Hiring a web designer: 5 important questions you need to ask

Your website is your business card; an extension of your brand. If I search for a business, and they don’t have a website, I’m moving on to the next one. That fact isn’t lost on you, because you’re here reading this. You may even be in the process of hiring a web designer to install a web presence for your business (blog, forum, etc.), or improve the site that you had built many years ago and is starting to show its age.

Before you make that very important decision of hiring a web designer, make sure you’re asking them these 5 questions.

Taking notes of the web designer's answers

1. When hiring a web designer, ask to see some of their previous work in your niche.

In some instances, it’s not a big deal if they don’t have experience in your particular niche. For example, if you need a website for your flower shop, as long as the designer can show you clean, professional-looking small business sites that he/she has created, it’s probably not a red flag that they haven’t done one specifically for a flower shop before.

However, you need to decide how important this is to you. If you decide you want someone who is an expert in your particular niche, make sure they meet this requirement.

2. Ask to speak with a former client.

Most designers and agencies will post testimonials on their site. However, when hiring a web designer, you’ll still want to hear from people who’ve worked with them. You can ask them questions as well, such as “Was the work done on time?, and “How was the communication?”.

They’re obviously going to give you the contact information of someone they feel like they had a good working relationship with, so if that person gives a less-than-glowing evaluation, or if they can’t give you the name of anyone at all, it’s time to look elsewhere.

3. Ask about the maintenance of your site after delivery.

My clients have generally been in 2 camps on this one. A lot of my clients have no desire to edit things themselves. This is often because they simply don’t have the time to do it, and they know that something that would take them 2 hours to change might take me 30 minutes. They may also not feel the most technically savvy and don’t want to risk breaking anything.

If this sounds like you, inquire about a maintenance plan. Ask whether your designer is fine with receiving emails requesting changes. They should be able to tell you how long these types of changes typically take, so you’ll know about how long of a turn around you can expect.

The other set of clients I work with want to learn how to make these small edits themselves and would rather not hire someone to make small changes. This is why I offer a personalized video to each of my clients, showing them how to make the changes to their site.

If this sounds like more your style, make sure you check if the designer’s workflow is something you can edit yourself comfortably. If they’re custom coding your site from scratch, this likely won’t be an option. What you’re likely looking for is a designer who uses WordPress and a good front-end builder that makes editing easy – such as Divi or Elementor.

4. Ask about revisions to your site

This question is pretty straightforward, and will likely be outlined in your contract. If it’s not, then that’s a red flag. It’s still a good question to get clarification on, as some designers offer 2 or 3 free revisions to the site after it’s presented to you, and some may only offer 1.

This is an important distinction. If you’re still not happy with your site after the 1 round of revisions, you may be stuck paying an additional hourly rate for revisions.

5. Ask about the payment

This is the least fun question you’ll need to ask, but maybe the most important. This is another item that should be in your contract (you know what? #6 Ask if they will have a contract for your project. The answer needs to be “Yes”). You’ll want to know if you’re paying a flat fee or an hourly rate. A lot of designers will do a flat fee for a website and then hourly for maintenance down the line. You’ll also want to find out if you need to put money down to start the project (this is common), and when the rest of the fee is due.

Again, having this present in a contract or agreement makes sure that no one is confused on when payment is going to take place. This also protects each of you.

SUMMARY

Ultimately, you need to open a line of communication with your developer and get a feel for their personality and the way they do business. I’ve seen a lot of posts suggesting 20, or even 30 questions to ask your web designer; this is excessive. Find a few questions that you feel are the most important and have a good conversation with your potential designer. You’re making an investment in yourself and your business, so inform and educate yourself about the process.

You’ll know when you’ve found the right designer because you’ll feel comfortable talking to them and going over their process. If they make you feel like an annoyance and are rushing their answers to you, keep looking. With these 5 questions, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for when hiring a web designer.

Click here to fill out my survey, telling me all about your idea! I’m more than happy to answer all of these questions for you as well (most of them you can find the answer by looking around my site!)

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