12 Questions for The Designer
12 Questions for your potential web designer / web design company:
- Can I see your other work?
You should ask to see the type of work that you are going to be paying for. If you don’t like their design style or the functionality of their sites, then you might want to verify that they can support your needs.
- Can you send me some client references?
It might be unusual to ask for this, but I highly recommend it. By talking to former clients you will be able to find out if the web designer / web design company really does what they say they do. It can’t hurt to ask, and you will learn a lot and feel much more comfortable working with the company going forward. You should also look for a testimonials page on their site.
- Do you do custom design?
The are template websites and there are "custom" designed websites. If you aren’t looking for custom design, then this question doesn’t matter. Many businesses and individuals are looking for a custom design so that they are unique and are able to stand out from the rest. Make sure that your provider is able to give you the customization that you need.
- Do you outsource the work?
It is currently common in the web design world to outsource projects to coders overseas. The problem with this is that the code, though it works is often a mess and hard to manage, update, and edit. This is not good business. However, outsourcing to people that the company knows well, and can verify their work, is actually advantageous to the customer because it keeps the cost of the website down while providing a high quality product. All outsourcing is not bad, but working with a company that just outsources to anyone is not going to be best for your website.
- How many projects do you work on at one time?
Customer service is equally as important as the design. This will determine the web designer’s accessibility and how easy they can respond to unexpected problems, additions, or changes. You can only really gain an insight into this by looking at their testimonials and/or asking their clients for feedback. You may be hiring the best web designer in town but if they can’t deliver on deadline or budget then why hire them?
- What is your availability for communication?
When you called the company, did you talk to someone? If you left a message did they call you back quickly? If you emailed did they response quickly? Web designers and web design companies are somewhat notorious for being poor communicators. This provides for slow project turn around and unmet expectations on the clients part. Making sure you work with a company that communicates well will make a huge impact on your experience.
- Do you support all major web browsers?
There are dozens of web browsers that are available (including mobile devices such as phones), but the vast majority of users will use either Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Each of these browsers will display your website slightly different from the next, so it’s important that your developer optimises your website to provide a similar experience across all of the major browsers.
- Will my site have a Content Management System (CMS)?
This question is essential and you want the answer to be YES! If your site is built without a CMS then you will be unable to make changes to it on your own and you will be subject to paying the web designer / web design company to make edits for you.
- What are my hosting options if you build my site?
Many web designers / web design companies will make you host your site with them and will charge high prices. I have talked to people paying up to $50 a month for hosting! That is ridiculous. You shouldn’t need to pay any more than $100 per year for hosting. Of course this is assuming you are wanting a basic site that doesn’t need unusual hosting options.
- What SEO services do you offer?
Even though good SEO occurs naturally when sites are standards compliant, there are a large range of SEO techniques available to your web developer. Your developer’s SEO knowledge may be enough to get you on the first or second page of Google, but if being at the top of the results is a priority for your site, then you’ll need to know if the developer has the skill to achieve your goals. Alternatively there are a number of companies who specialise in SEO and search marketing who may be able to help you.
The golden rule is that if a company guarantees that your site will rank highest on Google, it’s probably best to shop around at that point. This is an impossible promise to make, and chances are they will use a variety of underhanded tactics. If your site is discovered using these so called “black hat” techniques, it could lead to search engines banning you from their indexes entirely.
- Do you provide after sales support?
After your website is developed there are likely to be updates you would like to make, or new ideas you are keen to implement. Depending on whether or not your site is CMS based, you will need the support of your developer. Ask your developer what warranty period they provide (if any), whether they provide training, and what their ongoing maintenance charges are.
- Where are you located?
Web design companies can be located “remotely” which means they have an online presence but do not have a traditional office or shop-front. This is not necessarily to their detriment, as you should still be able contact them directly via the phone or email or to get a reply quickly.
Tips for having a good interaction with the website designer:
1. Give the designer a good indication of the theme, colors and the overall style you like for the website. This will avoid any unnecessar delays in getting your project started.
2. Be ready to spend time with the website designer to indicate what you like and don’t like about the sample designs that the designer shows you.
3. Be upfront in telling your designer what you really think about the sample layouts. Give them your honest thoughts and opinion. This will be helpful for the designer to more quickly arrive at your desired design.
4. Have the content (text and images) ready when starting to work with the designer, or shortly after the initial contact.
5. Do not ask the designer to teach you any techniques in the graphics design software to achieve a desired result. You wouldn’t want the designer to ask you about your trade secrets…
6. Use your designer to interact with your web hosting provider if there is any problem with the hosting of your website. Give appropriate authorization to the designer to interact with the web hosting company on your behalf. The designer is able to communicate with the web hosting provider using the technical jargon that each other can understand.
7. Avoid trying to maintain the website by yourself and getting outside help only when you get into a problem.
8. Also avoid asking one designer to fix the problem created by another designer. A designer does not enjoy constantly having to fix problems in the website that were introduced by other persons, especially when the other persons have been using different software to make changes to the website that the designer is not familiar with.