11 Questions To Ask A Web Designer Before Hiring Them

In this article I’m going to go through all the questions to ask a web designer before hiring them. I often see people getting ripped off or not quite getting what they’d expect from their web designer. They get a decent website built for them, only to find out it’s missing some key features down the line.

The issue is that a lot of web designers are only focused on how the site looks. Functionality, optimization and sustainability are often overlooked.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Your website, while also looking beautiful, should serve a purpose. I mean, you didn’t pay all that money just to have something nice to look at did you? I hope not…

Any site should be made with the intention of bringing you customers. It should serve as a portal, a method of communication between you and your customer. If it doesn’t, something is wrong.

So without further delay, let’s get into the questions everyone should ask their web designer before signing on the dotted line.

1. How Much Will It Cost?

Value is in the eye of the consumer.

There is no benchmark price for websites, nothing is too high or too low. That being said, you should always check out a designer’s other work and ask how much they charged for other work similar to what you’ll require.

This will give you a better idea of what you can expect in return for your cash. Personally, I’m incredibly frugal and will always shop around for the best deal.

However, when it comes to a website, you’re investing in an asset for your business. You should always see it as spending money on something that will bring more money into your business. A crappy website will yield a poor return on investment, whereas an well designed website may provide the opposite.

2. Do You Have Any Previous Work?

Always ask to see previous work.

Every designer out there has designed at least one website before – even if it’s only their own. Looking at their previous work will give you a better feel for their style and capabilities. (You can see our portfolio here)

If what you’re looking for on your site isn’t really exhibited on any their previous works, talk to them and be upfront about what you’re looking for. The web design agency should be able to tell you if they’re going to be capable of bringing your vision to life or not.

3. How Long Do You Expect It To Take?

What is the timeline for completion?

And within that, are there any checkpoints along the way? How quickly you want your site up is up to you, but these things can take time.

Communicate and work with your web designer to make sure that the website is delivered in a timely manner, but also isn’t rushed.

Make sure the timeline is clear beforehand, that way you won’t have any trouble down the line if things are moving a little slow. Everyone is happy.

4. Will You Be Providing Any Content?

Are you providing content? If so, what?

Some web designers will provide content for you. However, it takes time/money to write good copy and so to keep prices down you should probably consider supplying your own content.

If you’re no good at writing, consider asking a friend or outsourcing through a site like upwork.com.

Images and videos are also good forms of content that you should include providing yourself. There are plenty of stock image and video sources out there, but they’re often pretty obvious that they’re not of you or your business. Real photos of your business often tell the customer much more about you personally and help you to stand out.

5. What’s The Approval Process?

Some web designers will ask you for feedback as the project moves along (I know I do) to make sure they’re focusing their efforts in the right places and not completing a design without your input.

Others will design the whole website and then say “what do you think?” – at which point it’s a pain for them to completely redesign it, and so they may be reluctant.

Make sure, just like with the timeline, you have a clear approval process set out before starting.

6. Are Modifications Allowed?

If there is an approval process, how many modifications can be made?

I know a design company that completes 80% of the web design and then presents it. They then give the client one chance to make any final edits or ideas to incorporate into the finished product.

I don’t really like working that way. While it saves the designer time and therefore the client money, it can also leave the client feeling pressured into accepting something they weren’t sure if they wanted.

I would rather feel completely happy with a finished website with more feedback along the way  – both as a designer and a client.

7. Will You Be Providing SEO?

Are they going to optimize your website for search engines?

You may think that this is a pretty standard procedure and that all web designers do it. However, the truth is that most web designers are rarely SEOs too.

If you’re thinking of getting a site made, check with the designer if they will be performing Search Engine Optimization, and if not, if they have any associates that could. It always helps to have a plan in place.

8. Can You Include Conversion Optimization?

One of the most important factors.

This should automatically fall under “design”. As Steve Jobs said, design isn’t how it looks, it’s how it works. If your website doesn’t convert visitors into customers or followers, then what’s the point of having it?

Make sure your web designer always has conversions on the brain.

Also ask what happens if the website doesn’t convert? Will they do further optimization, and what would the cost be?

9. How About Speed Optimization?

Speed is crucial.

Studies show that around 50% expect all sites to load within 2 seconds or less, and most of those people abandon pages that take longer than 3 seconds to load.

That’s not long for your website to get on their screen, but it’s easily achievable through good design and speed boosting tactics. The main thing is not to have an overly slow site.

If you want to check your site’s speed right now, here’s a free tool to do just that.

10. And Um.. “Other” Optimization?

Has your designer thought about social media optimization? How about email list optimization?

Make sure you know what goals you want to achieve with your site and make them clear to your designer. If you make everything clear from the get-go, you’ll have a much smoother ride and better end result.

It’s likely that they’ll have their own ideas and advice on the direction to take your website anyway – communication is key.

11. What About Future Updates? What’s The Cost?

Okay, so you got your website, but what happens next?

How much is it going to cost to update it? Can you do it yourself, or will the designer have to do it? And if that’s the case, how much will it cost?

Again, finding this out ahead of time will save headaches later, make sure you discuss it with your web developer upfront.

So there you have it! These are all of the questions that I would ask a web designer before hiring them.

You could even turn this list around and go through and answer them yourself think about what you expect from your designer. That way you will already know what you’re looking for and can tell them.

Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments!

Tom Watts

AvatarTom is the proud Owner of Top Shelf Media in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's a seasoned blogger who writes about all things related to online marketing, web design and SEO. Feel free to ask him anything!

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