The FIRST question is one you should ask yourself, before hiring anyone.
1. Do I need a web designer?
If you’re looking for a website that looks pretty and ehm..works, you need someone who is just as good on the backend as they are on the front.
If you’re also looking for someone to make you a logo, fix up your copy, take some pictures and hold your hand through the tech bumps and updates, then what need is a small, dedicated team.
Designer, developer, web dude, designer gal, your go-to team, whatever you want to call them, if you’re looking for help with your brand’s digital home, there are a few key questions you should ask before jumping into a relationship.
After you’ve clarified what it is you’re after, the first question you should ask your prospective web partner is:
2. What core services do they offer?
Do they strictly do simple, WordPress websites? Can they design a logo for your website? Produce content? What about more advanced dev work?
If you’re looking for a cheap, quick fix, you might not ask these questions. If you’re looking for a durable partner with whom you’ll grow your online presence as your business expands, then you’ll want to inquire about the full breadth of their capabilities from the onset.
3. How do they price their services?
Do they charge a flat rate, project basis or an hourly fee? There are freelancers out there charging as low as $200 for an entire website and agencies charging upward of $200/hr for more customized work. Where’s your sweet spot?
Avoid surprises and find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the project scope in a detailed proposal. How many revisions do you get? For anything that falls outside of the project scope, expect to be billed separately for it. Find out what that billing process looks like.
4. What is their estimated timeline?
There are those who will promise to deliver your fully finished website in 7 days flat and agencies that take up to a year for a customized project. The answer to this questions depends entirely on YOUR goals and the steps, tools and requirements needed to achieve them. Only then should your new partner be able to give you an estimated timeline.
Keep in mind, that estimated timeline will depend on a number of factors: how quickly YOU provide them with what they need (content, access to any necessary 3rd parties such as hosting, domain, etc.), feedback and their work time.
5. Do they custom design websites or use pre-made templates?
Do they install a template and run? Do they have advanced coding capabilities to further customize according to your preferences? Will you be making changes and updates or will they handle everything - from uploading new photos to adding that chat box feature for you?
6. Can they provide examples of websites that they've designed?
Ask to see sample sites to get a feel for their work capabilities and style. This can be links to websites they’ve created, a portfolio or individual case studies. Do you like their style?
7. How will they optimize your website for search engines?
Oh the phantasmal SEO. Everyone wants it. Few understand it. Go ahead, ask them about it. I know you want to. What, exactly, do they do to optimize for SEO?
The days of stuffing websites with keywords are long gone. Today, it’s quality AND quantity for the win. Do they create quality content? How often?
8. Will your website be compatible with smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices?
In the tech world this is called “responsive” or “mobile-friendly” design. In today’s on-the-go and give-it-to-me-now world, responsive design is no longer an option. It’s an industry standard. If it hasn’t become their standard yet, then they're not keeping up with the times.
9. Will your website be built to expand as your business grows?
Will your website support e-commerce when you’re ready to sell those nifty products or special service packages? Will your site support growth? Or, will you have to start from scratch in 2-5 years?
10. Will you have the ability to make updates?
This one requires some self reflection - how often will you be updating your site and what kind of regular changes will you be making? Will you be publishing regular blog posts yourself? Will you require new videos, photos or professional articles that rank on Google? Who will be in charge of handling this?
11. What do they need from you?
Find out exactly what they need from YOU - before work begins, during and after. Most professionals, solopreneurs or small teams, will require a contract. This is mutually beneficial. I cannot advise strongly enough against working under a verbal contract, or none at all.
Paying nothing up front leads to a lack of incentive for the person or team you’re working with. Paying the entire project upfront is dangerous for you - what if they take your money and run? There’s a sweet spot - 50% nonrefundable deposit upfront to lock in your spot and so they can get to work, and the other 50% due upon project completion, prior to launch.
12. Do they offer on-going maintenance after your site goes live?
Is this a one-and-done? What happens if you need some updates after the launch? Or if your site is attacked? What security and maintenance measures will be in place?
Find out how these packages are charged - is it a monthly retainer? Pack of hours? Inquire about potential future costs before you’re locked into a contract and relationship.
And finally, lucky number 13, the #1 question your web designer should ask YOU:
13. What are your goals?
Everything - project specs, design, budget and timeframe - depends on the detailed answer to this question.
If you're not sure what you need, take advantage of a free consultation. Get a feel for them BEFORE you throw down any cash.
Be wary of anyone who tells you a solid price, timeframe or project scope without asking you about your goals.
Have any web designer/developer/[insert any “technical” worker you’ve ever hired here] horror stories? Let out your rants in the comments below.
Who we are
At HiSpire, we navigate the tech so you can get back to what you actually enjoy doing. Our Co-founders, Jamie & Jorge are marriedpreneurs and cofounders of our bilingual digital agency. Jorge is the tech maven behind the scenes, powering your business online while Jamie translates it all into human, crafting the digestible bits of content your customers crave and holding your hand through the process. We believe in using the right mix of care and technology to grow your business in the digital space. We're serious about doing quality work, having fun and building durable relationships with the businesses we partner with.
Check out our portfolio to get a glimpse into what it’s like to partner with us.
Have questions about a web design project? Grab a virtual beer with us and give us whatchya got.