how to choose the right web designer

10 vital questions when choosing your web designer

Huzzar! You want a website, a redesign, or an update. Before you jump, you need to ask yourself and your prospective web designers a couple of questions. This should be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, go through these ten questions to ensure you find the right person.

1. How much experience does this web designer have?
Experience is key. How long have they been a web designer?
Your website designer will act as a project manager for your site. Hence it’s essential you find someone with the skillset, the employees, and the wherewithal to help you look after the pillars of online business: design, marketing, technical ability, and server administration.

Can they provide what you need? Ask them how much experience they have being a web designer.

2. Who is interviewing whom?

You are interviewing them.

It’s your business. You need to make sure you hire a web designer able to partner with you in achieving your vision.

Pay attention to the questions they ask you. Are they interested in your business plans, your customers, are they speaking to you or at you?

You need to be able to work with whomever you choose and come out the other side with a working relationship, preferably a healthy creative one.

3. Have you asked around?
Ask people you trust. Do you know anyone who has a had a successful website experience? Or even better, someone who is still working with their web designer.

Peer review and testimonials are important. Some web designers have a bad rep for not finishing the job, finishing the job and then disappearing into the ether, and or promising you the earth only to deliver a digital damp squib.

Don’t be fooled. Digital, web, social are not magic bullets that’ll make it rain money. Before you even discuss details, ask can they suggest some of their previous clients you can get in touch with.

Do they have testimonials on their website? If not – RED ALERT!

4. Ask yourself – what do you want?
What do I want my website to do? This is the starting point of any conversation about your website. And you need to have it with yourself and preferably a pen and paper.

Identify websites you admire or dislike as a starting point. What is your website going to do for you?

What are your expectations? Don’t worry about using the right terminology, vocab or any of that. If they can’t ‘get’ you, then they’re not going to work out.

5. Who will be doing the work?
Ask – Do you work with a team? This question is to identify web designers who simply farm out everything, this might not be what you want, or you don’t mind, either way it’s important to know. If they are going to outsource part of their service, you need to know.

It is important to start the relationship off with some truth. You should know who is doing the work, you are paying for it after all.

6. How much is it going to cost?
Ah yes, the oldest question in the world! Also, when it comes to websites the trickiest.

Cheapest is not best. Websites are like any other product, you get what you pay for, but only up to a point. Look for value for money. Is this web designer sitting in front of you going to provide value? Ask them how they are going to do this.

How will you pay, instalments? A good designer will probably look for some money upfront, and will map out a phased payment plan based on the development plan. Websites are not magic, they are a service, set the terms of payment and the amount, before you agree to anything.

7. Are you going to maintain the website yourself after it is finished?
Does your potential designer offer this service? Depending on your website it might need a lot or a little, but it will need some.

Is there training included in the quoted price? What if you want to change something in 3 months? What happens then? Maybe you periodically add more products, update services provided, who does that, who pays for that? All questions that need to be answered before you commit.

Remember getting the website up is only the beginning. Will you be able to reach them on the phone, by email? Will they be responsive. There are bound to be teething issues so you need to be working with someone who is there for you and your site. A good web designer will have a support plan in place for you for the first few months and longer.

8. Will the designer draw up a technology road map?
Will your website turn into a pumpkin in two or three years’ time? It needs to be future proofed, built in such a way that it will evolve as the web does.

Ask them about upcoming trends that will affect your website. What does the future hold for web sites, digital marketing and businesses like yours?

If the web designer cannot explain a trend simply, so that you can understand clearly, they are talking through their hat.

9. What does the designer know about marketing and SEO?
Building and designing is not just about technical expertise. A website should generate revenue and leads, these are its main functions. Handing over the website is not the end, it is the beginning.

What is your online marketing plan going to be? Who is responsible for SEO? SEO needs to be tended to constantly and there are no quick fixes.

10. How long is it going to take?
What is your deadline? Expect many of the better website designers to be booked a couple of weeks in advance. Agree on a timeframe, a schedule that you both can meet, if you are creating content for the site you will need to adhere to the schedule as well.

A realistic timeframe is better than a pipe dream.

Summary
You need to be involved, yup, you need to do some research, and learn as you go. It is your business, don’t entrust its future to anyone you don’t fully trust. Like with your children, it is all well and good getting someone to look after them, but no one cares more, or will do a better job than you will.

P.S. – Don’t let them bamboozle you with jargon, jargon is camouflage for lack of knowledge.

There’s a big difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
Richard Feynman

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