You’re ready to get a website for your business, and now it’s time to hire someone to help you do it. Here are the questions you need to ask so you can hire a great website designer.
You’re finally ready to do it.
You’re going to get a website for your business. And you’re going to hire someone to help you do it well.
Truly, your website may be one of the most important investments you make in your company, if you do it right. I’m genuinely excited for you!
So, how do you get started? First, get familiar with some of the common website terms you may have skipped over up until now. (I wrote about those right here.)
And then, you’re about ready to hire someone. But who will you hire? Most likely, you need someone who can design your website.
(Now, you may also need a copywriter or lead generation specialist or someone who does all of the above, but for the sake of simplicity, today we’re just talking about website designers.)
Before you go out and hire the first website designer you can find (or, more likely, the friend of a friend of a friend that said, “Oh, she does websites!”), you need to take a few minutes to get to know her and see if it’s a fit.
Think of it as the equivalent of your equine pre-purchase exam. Just as you’d look over a horse with a specific set of criteria in mind before buying him, there are some things you need to know about your website designer before you make the hiring decision.
We’ll actually break this post down into two parts. Because, before you ask your potential website designer any questions, you need to ask yourself a few key questions.
Why? You need to be clear about what you want and need from your website before you start the conversation with a designer or developer.
If you don’t know what you want out of your website, then you’ll likely spend (actually, waste) time asking irrelevant questions and even getting a website built that doesn’t do what you need it to do.
That’s why first I want you to ask yourself these questions before you start talking with someone to build your website. Go ahead and grab a pen and paper or your favorite notes app and jot down your answers.
7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Web Designer
What’s my main reason for getting a website?
Am I going to write all the words for the site or will I hire that out?
How will I go about collecting leads (email addresses)—i.e. What will my opt-in be?
Do I plan to have a blog?
Will I be selling anything on my website?
Will I need to make ongoing updates to my site such as horses for sale?
What requests or needs do I have for my site that are unique to my business?
Okay, now that you’ve got a better picture in mind of what you’re looking for, you can have a much more productive conversation with your potential website designer.
Here are the 7 questions you should ask your web designer before you make a hiring decision.
Are you a website designer or developer? Why you should ask this question: There’s a difference between a designer and a developer. The easiest way to think about it is the designer is typically concerned with what you’d expect from any kind of designer—the visual look and navigation of your site. While the developer is typically the one doing custom coding to get unique functionality in place. Both designers and developers also usually help with back-end set-up but not aways so be sure to check. With the many website templates available nowadays, most small business owners hire a designer and if they need help with something specific or custom then they or the designer will contract with a developer.
Can you share links to three projects you’ve completed and tell me about your role in each project? Why you should ask this question: Every website designer has a different style and expertise, so you want to be sure what they do matches what you’re looking for on your own website. Plus, if they don’t have any recent website projects they can share, then you might want to inquire about that. Have they been out of the loop for a while? Are there reasons people aren’t hiring them? I wouldn’t exactly call no recent projects a red flag but it is something to ask about.
If I hire you for my website, what’s the timeline, and what does the design process look like? Why you should ask this question: First of all, you want to avoid any assumptions that as soon as you say you’d like to hire them they’ll start on your project. Most designers are working on more than one website project at a time. So, you’ll want to ask when they will start on your website as well as their expected finish date. And, of course, find out what’s going to happen in between those dates in terms of how you’ll communicate, how often they’ll send you updates, what they need from you to get started, etc. The more you’re on the same page ahead of time, the better the experience will be for both of you. Your website is a big deal and it’s exciting, so you want it to be a fun and exciting experience!
How many revisions are included in your fee? Why you should ask this question: Ideally, you two will get on the same page before the actual design is presented so there are no surprises—this is where your preparation and notes on the questions I provided specifically for you will come into play. At the same time, almost no website or design project is 100% the way you want it on the first try. So, slight revisions are to be expected. Yet, as you can imagine, overhauls and major revisions require more time from the designer. That’s why most designers have a maximum number of revisions they’ll do, and once you reach that max, they’ll charge a predetermined hourly rate. For some perspective, with my clients, I’ll do up to three revisions but at the same time, part of working with me is that you receive basic training on your website platform. So, when it comes to minor copy edits and tweaks, my clients can easily make those updates to their website when needed. So, I advise clients to focus on the major elements of the site when it comes to revisions.
If custom imagery or design is needed, will I get all of the original art files? Why you should ask this question: Nearly all designers are going to provide you with the original art files for any custom imagery or design that’s needed for your project. But there are no guarantees so it’s important to get that settled up front. That way, later on when you ask for the files, there are no surprises. You may be thinking, “Why do I need the art files?” Well, a few months or years down the road you may hire a graphic designer and you want what they create for you to match the look and feel of your website. That’ll be much easier when you can share the original artwork.
My website goals are [insert your goals here]. How will your expertise help me meet those goals? Why you should ask this question: Each designer has their own specialties. And each website owner has specific goals for their site and their business. You need to know if your designer’s expertise matches what you want for your website. If you’re working with a designer who is all about search engine optimization (SEO) but doesn’t know much about lead generation and collecting email addresses is important to you, then this is the time to have that conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’d never hire that person. But having the conversation up-front will let you know if they can help you meet your website goals or not.
Will you handle future updates to my site, or will you be training me to do that? Why you should ask this question: I hinted at this a bit in a previous question about revisions, but it’s important to know what’s going to happen after they hand the site over to you. Will you receive any training? Are you the one to be trained, or is someone on your team going to handle website updates for you? The great thing about using a hosted platform like Wix or Squarespace is that less overall website maintenance is required compared to a self-hosted WordPress site which requires plug-in updates, WordPress updates, etc. But either way, you’re going to need to know how to do basic things like publish a new blog post, reply to contact forms, and change out a picture or paragraph later on.
Of course, as you talk about these specific questions, other questions may come up naturally that will give you even more insight. But these are what I would call the “biggies.” As in, don’t hire someone until you’ve got the answer to these questions in some form or another.
Okay, now you have it! You’re ready to start those pre-purchase conversations and get the ball rolling. Here’s to your new website!