Thinking of hiring a website designer?
Business owners are a busy lot. From serving their customers to networking, finance, and HR, there’s always something important to do. With research showing that only 40% of U.K. businesses have a website, it seems that getting online is not one of their priorities but hiring a website designer could help you take charge of your project and make sure it’s completed to a high standard.
The explosion of e-commerce means you cannot afford to stick your head in the sand any more: You need a website. If the thought of discussing website technologies with a geek is putting you off, we have prepared a list of questions to ask when hiring a website designer so you can interview prospective agencies with authority. First, a little background knowledge:
What is a website designer?
Think of your web designer as the interior designer of your online presence: To create the look and feel of your website, your web designer will work with you to choose colours, develop any branding or logos you may need, discuss layouts for your website’s pages, and create mock-ups of the finished website.
What is a website developer?
A web developer takes a web designer’s mock-ups and turns them into a working website. Your designer and developer could well be the same person, although increasingly web design tools are giving graphic designers to build websites without traditional coding skills.
Now, here are the questions you need to ask before hiring a web designer or website developer:
- What are your qualifications and experience? The most important question of all when hiring a website designer. Ask to see a portfolio and take note of such factors as layouts, colours, and logos. Enquire about their most ambitious and simplest projects.
- How do you price your services, per hour, per page or by complete website?
- How do you expect payment? Do you offer options on deposits, stage payments and refunds?
- Can I see the contract? If there’s no contract, look elsewhere.
- What does your price cover? Design and development? In-house mock-ups? Be aware of all costs before you commit to anything.
- Is SEM (search engine marketing) / SEO (search engine optimisation) included? This is a key question to ask when hiring a website designer, it’s all very well having a beautiful website, but you want people to visit it too!
- Does the price cover maintenance of the site, and, if so, for how long?
- Will you train me to edit and maintain the website myself?
- If I cannot make changes to the website, how much do you charge for the service?
- Do you use templates to create website designs or do you build them from scratch?
- Does your package include domain name & web hosting? If so, what is the annual renewal cost for the domain name and web hosting space? Do we have to use your company for web hosting?
- Will my website be backed up on a regular basis? Is this included in my hosting cost?
- How long will it take you to build my website??
- What is your knowledge of my industry?
- What inputs do I need to provide? Will I be required to provide all the text, for example,? What about photography/images?
- If you provide photography/images, where do you get them from? Are they copyright compliant?
- Can I have a digital copy of my site once it is completed?
- What results have your clients recorded in terms of returns on their investment (ROI)? When hiring a website designer make sure they have trusted testimonials, from previous clients.
- Have you any case studies to prove ROI? Look for real numbers e.g. online sales rose 29% after the new website was launched.
- Take me through your research and planning process: How do you do your market and competitor research?
- Do you create wireframe designs or start building a concept development site immediately? (Wireframes are mock-ups that help you to see how the finished website will be laid out).
- Do you create the web content for me? Content creation requires planning to ensure it is optimised for search, includes the information your website visitors want, and encourages website visitors to become clients.
- Do you test the website to gauge its usability?
- How will your design advance my business goals? Ask about the reasons behind menu placement, page layout etc.
- Will you analyse my search traffic before and after the website is launched?
- Are your designs tested for multi-browser and cross-platform compatibility?
- Do I liaise with the designer directly or do I communicate through a project manager? There are obvious advantages in discussing issues directly with the designer.
- Will you create a logo for my site?
- Who owns the completed site design? This is an important issue to clarify in case of future disputes or business closure.
- Will you give me a copy of any working design files when the process is complete? The website design company should have no problem giving you original photoshop, illustrator or fireworks especially if you are updating the website yourself in the future.
- Will you add Google analytics to my website, and can I have access to it to view my website statistics?
- If you are building a new website what will happen to the old pages when visitors find them in search results? Make sure your web designer is adding some form of redirection plugin (WordPress) or 301 redirect script to your robots.txt – you don’t want to lose traffic because a page can no longer be found on your new website.
- Will you create a custom 404 page for my new site? This can be a really useful way to keep users on your site, even if they have come to a broken link – check out our 404 page as a good working example.
Where to Go Next
Now that you know what to ask when hiring a web designer, why not fire some questions at us? We think you will like the answers. Proactive offers web design and website development services that give you an original, responsive, user-friendly online presence, whether you are looking for a simple one-page solution or a full-scale web shop.
We design websites according to best SEO practices. You can also work with one of our SEO partners to maximise your chances of being found by the right online visitors. We will tailor landing pages to include irresistible calls to action, and we can also supply you with a Google account manager to manage an effective Adwords campaign for you.