You have been dreaming of your own website for years and finally, you have taken the first steps to make it happen. Congratulations! You are now faced with a difficult decision: Which web designer should I hire? There are many things that you need to consider when hiring a web designer, so we created this list of Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer.
1) WHAT DOES IT COST?
The first question we’re always asked is – how much does a website from you cost. The problem is, it’s not as easy as that. Or at least it shouldn’t be. A website is a serious commitment and it could make or break your business.
There’s a wide variety of pricing out there for web designers. Some charge £99, some charge £20,000. So which is right for you?
Ultimately, it comes down to your budget and your needs. Any web designer that offers you a generic price without having a conversation about your goals, needs and customers probably isn’t going to work for you in the long run. We offer general pricing, because everyone wants a ball park figure. But we’ve done websites for less and for more. It all comes down to the needs of the client. Be open with your budget. A good designer will have guide pricing, and they should be able to give you a ball-park figure – like we do on our web design packages. But you should always be willing to chat about your needs and figure out together what’s best for you.
Getting consultations and quotes can be daunting. But it’s important to remember that at this stage, it’s just costing you time.
2) WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WILL YOU DO ON MY BUSINESS, PRODUCTS AND CUSTOMERS?
A good designer will research your business and industry, as well your core customer base. If they don’t understand who you are, what your business offers and who your customers are – how can they build a site that works for you?
Most experienced web designers and agencies will do a consultation to understand all these things. We call it the ‘discovery meeting’. But ultimately it means spending time getting to know you and your objectives so they can put together a proposal that achieves your goals and appeals to your customers.
3) HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE IN WEB DESIGN?
It’s important to find out how much experience the potential web designer has in your field, or at least their general experience and work so far. Make sure you see previous projects and get an idea on their background before handing over any money or signing anything!
Good web designers will have a portfolio of work that you can look through to see the projects they’ve done before. You can check out ours here.
It’s always a good sign if the websites they’ve build before are ‘live’ – not just showing you pictures of them. This shows they’ve got current clients they’re still working with.
You should also check out reviews. A web design company with good reviews is more likely to be trustworthy and reliable. Make sure the reviews are on a third party site too, not just testimonials on their website. Anyone can type a review, but if you can see them on a site like Google or Facebook, they more likely to be authentic. Especially if they tie up with the designs you see on their portfolio.
4) WHAT DO YOU NEED FROM ME?
Even if you pay a designer to create your website they’ll still need a great deal of input from you. Yup, that’s right folks, it’s not just a pay and forget scenario. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
As well as initial consultations and discovery chats, most designers will need you to provide the core content for your new site. This can include, but isn’t limited to:
-Core site content, like info about your company
-Articles and blog posts
-Product and service descriptions, features (if you sell physical goods).
You may also need to provide any images for these too! Though often, like us, they’ll have access to stock image libraries if you’re a little short on pics!
If you struggle with writing, some designers will have access to copywriters – either as a skill themselves, or they might outsource it. Find out if they’ll help you with your written content. Good copy (text) can make a huge difference from how customers see you to your site rankings on Google.
5) WILL MY WEBSITE BE UNIQUE AND CUSTOM-BUILT OR ARE YOU USING TEMPLATES?
Templates are a shortcut for web designers to build websites without spending as much time and effort. This can cut down costs, and it’s one of the reasons some web designers are much cheaper than others.
Templates can be very useful, but they mean your site isn’t bespoke. This can result in your site looking like others in your industry and may not work as well if your business has something unique about it (maybe in the products you sell or service-type). The quality of templates also vary greatly, so you don’t always know what you’re getting.
However, if you’re not too concerned about the appearance and need something that’s quick to put together then templates might be a good option for your site.
We build all our websites totally from scratch. That means everything about your site is totally unique and custom-designed for you. That’s how we believe it should be. But it’s totally down to you what suits your business, and budget, the best.
6) HOW DO I PAY AND WHAT FLEXIBILITY DO YOU OFFER FOR PAYMENTS?
Most designers will at least require a deposit upfront. Some charge the entire cost of the project, others let you spread the cost. Ultimately, how you pay is a choice for you, but if a designer wants all the money before you’ve seen any work… that’s not an ideal scenario.
We work on a ‘payment in thirds’ model. This means you pay a deposit of one-third of the total cost upfront. This deposit secures your space on our schedule and starts the creative process. The second third is due once we’ve created a few pages, so you can see where the design is going and you know you’re happy with it before you pay anything else. The final payment is due once all the work is complete, just before the site goes live. Splitting it this way means you can spread the cost a little more and gives you the peace of mind to know you’re happy with the design before you commit further.
Just ensure you’ve checked out their terms for payment and that their costs and schedule work for you.
7) HOW WILL YOU OPTIMIZE MY WEBSITE FOR PAGE SPEED AND SEARCH ENGINES?
Building a website is one thing. Making sure it works effectively and will get seen by search engines and your customers is another.
The top web designers know that a website’s design is only one part of what needs to be done. They’ll also take into account site speed and SEO, so you can rest assured your customers will find their way back again in the future! If they don’t mention these things upfront or offer solutions for them – you may want to reconsider.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a critical part of what ensures your site gets noticed. Some designers will be trained in SEO, some won’t (some might outsource this) – provided you know it’s part of the considerations of the project, then you’ll be OK.
8) HOW WILL MY SITE BE HOSTED?
Your ‘hosting’ is where your site sits on the internet. Not to be confused with your ‘domain’ which is your web address e.g. www.yoursite.com. Your hosting is the platform that your website sits on – usually this is a server somewhere in the world where all the content from your site is pulled when your customers visit your pages.
Some web designers, like us, will offer hosting as part of their packages. Some won’t and might except you to organise this yourself.
In most cases (except for very big agencies) they’ll be using a hosting provider to do this.
Ask them who they use to host their sites, what kind of hosting it is and what it costs. This is normally an on-going cost, charged monthly or annually. If they’ve got a package with a hosting company, it’s likely the services you’ll get will be better than if you had to host it yourself.
9) ARE THERE ANY ON-GOING COSTS?
There are always on-going costs for keeping your website online. Typically these are:
-domain – you need to own the www.yoursite.com address that your site uses this is usually anything from £10-£20 per year, but it varies depending on your chosen domain.
-hosting – where your site sits (see question 8 above!). This cost varies too, usually it’ll be around £10 a month, but it can be more or less.
-maintenance – keeping your site updated is vital to the long term stability and security of your site. Some designers won’t offer these services. If they have maintenance services, like our Care Plans, get them to explain what they cost and what’s covered so you know your site is protected.
10) WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU OFFER ONCE THE SITE IS BUILT?
Some designers won’t offer any support after the site is complete, while others will. You should also keep in mind if you’re planning to get a maintenance contract for your website or not. If so, be sure that all of the terms are laid out and agreed upon before you move forward with the project.
The last thing you need is to have your new site working great, then something goes wrong. Who do you turn to? Knowing your designer has your back and the technical knowhow to fix things when they go wrong or help you with any problems that arise, is great peace of mind.
We offer our Care Plans to keep customers sites up to date and secure, and some of these include work hours to make changes or updates to your website. Always check what technical support they can offer you and ensure you know up front of any hourly costs or rates for work that falls outside of any maintenance plan you might have.
There are many important questions to ask when hiring a web designer. It’s vital that you explore these carefully and also feel free to be guided by our blog in any ways you’re unsure of what steps to take next.
Don’t be shy to ask questions about the project when asking for a quote. Make sure you understand what the project entails, fees and potential support after-the-fact.