If you’re looking to hire a web designer to help you with your small business website you’ve come to the right place. To help you make the best decision possible, we’ve put together a list of 20 questions to ask before hiring a web designer.
Asking smart questions will help you determine how the process works and what level of quality to expect. We recommend scheduling a video call to determine if the designer is the right choice before you move ahead hiring them. This way, you can get a feel for how they operate as a business and determine if your personalities are a good fit for the working relationship.
20 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer
1. Do you have a process in place to learn about my business?
A well optimized website requires knowledge of your business culture, products, services and the industry as a whole. Before even thinking about creating content or a website layout, the web designer should have a process in place to:
- Understand your goals and requirements for the project;
- Identify who your target market is;
- Know your key services and how they benefit your customers;
- Research relevant keywords; and
- Capture your input and feedback.
All before writing content, designing visuals, or building your website.
Many designers can create a website for any business, but agencies like ours may also have specialized knowledge in particular industries. Regardless, your business should be treated as unique when it comes to designing your website.
2. Will you outsource any of the work on my project?
Some agencies offer web design and development as a service and will outsource the work. This can sometimes lead to communication challenges, poor and inconsistent quality, project delays and additional costs. It may also contradict your own organizational values. For example, at Original Ginger, we believe in purchasing supplies and services locally whenever possible. And we are happy to pay a higher price if it means that we are supporting quality work for fair wages.
Our service rates reflect reasonable compensation to our team for their talent and expertise. They are also competitive based on our expertise, years of experience, professional project management, boutique quality of service and quality of work.
3. What other services do you offer besides web design?
If your web designer has other skills related to strategy, design, content writing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’re more likely to get a high-performance website that will attract traffic and generate leads. Through your web design project, the designer should become very familiar with your brand. This makes other branding and marketing activities such as logo design, illustration, video, photography, and marketing more authentic and consistent.
It’s rare to find one designer skilled in every area of design, so this is where hiring an agency has its advantages. With an agency, you get an entire team of talented experts at your disposal to maintain a cohesive brand strategy.
4. Can you design a website that fits my budget?
Setting a reasonable budget for a quality website should be a priority. This is an investment in your business success and should not be a place where you cut corners. Your website is the hub of your online presence, and you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s important to clearly communicate your budget before starting any project. Some companies list pricing on their websites and some require more information before providing a custom quote. This is understandable since there are so many elements that go into creating an effective website and not all web designers have the same level of experience or quality of service.
Ask the web designer what options they offer within your budget. Typically, it will depend on the complexity of site functionality, volume of content, depth of keyword research (SEO), and other factors. Web hosting, domain registration, plugins and stock images can be additional costs to you, unless otherwise noted.
We are very transparent about what we include in our website packages for the price. And if you are on a small business budget, we will always be clear with you about the value of meeting a minimum standard when building a website.
5. How do you plan to manage my project?
Working with a team of people on your website can be efficient but it can also cause unexpected miscommunications. Ask if you will have a central point of contact dedicated to your project to ensure that one person is managing the project every step of the way. Given that there are multiple phases to a web design project, professional project management is key to meeting deadlines, keeping the team on point and adhering to client requirements.
Ask the web designer to define each stage of their web design process. An experienced designer should have at least 6 stages: research, strategy, design, development, launch and user acceptance. Make sure you understand when your company can expect to receive progress reports. In your questions to ask before hiring a web designer, this one is key!
At Original Ginger, we assign one Project Manager as your primary point of contact. They will be your guide through the entire process from start to finish. They will be your front line of communication for timelines, tasks, questions, feedback and any other information necessary for completion of your web design.
6. Will you integrate a third-party platform with my website?
It will depend on what business you are in, as to what third-party platforms you may need to integrate with your website. Perhaps you use a specific customer-relationship management system (CRM), or maybe an e-commerce storefront is a priority for you. Not all web designers have the capability or expertise to implement an integration. Many integrations have a lot of moving parts that require an in-depth knowledge of code. Even adding a simple contact form gets more complicated when it needs to connect to a specific CRM.
If you are building your website on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, chances are that compatibility won’t be an issue. But, if you choose to build your website on WIX, Squarespace or other similar proprietary platform, your options for integration are likely more limited. Whatever the case, ask your web designer to clearly explain how your CRM, storefront, or other third-party platform will integrate with your website.
Our expertise in e-commerce and content marketing integration is integral to our web design work at Original Ginger. We can recommend robust platforms and implement seamless integration when you need it.
7. How long will it take to complete my web design and development?
A web designer should be able to give you a time frame for your project based on deliverables and input from you before the project begins. It’s a good idea to ensure that project phases are clearly defined in a formal agreement with your designer.
You should allow extra time for unexpected issues or changes. Clearly communicate the project deadline at the start of the project. Always read the agreement as some designers charge late fees if a project pushes past the deadline. This is typically an effort on the designer’s side to motivate a client not to procrastinate when providing deliverables, feedback or approvals. We understand that you’re busy running your business while the project is in progress but both parties need to respect timelines.
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This guide will help you understand the balance between design, function, customer experience and user experience for an effective website. It’s a strong resource, an informative read, and would be very helpful prior to meeting with an agency like Original Ginger.
8. What do you need from me before we can begin work on the project?
Ask this at the start of the project to avoid stress while scrambling for content, photos, reviews, passwords, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask your web designer for a list of what you’ll need to give them.
At Original Ginger, we schedule an online orientation and kick-off meeting via video chat. We want you to know exactly what to expect during the project as we guide you through each phase step by step with clear direction on timelines.
9. Who writes the content for my website?
Most web designers aren’t copywriters, so they will outsource the work to a copywriter who will be responsible for creating the marketing-focused content for your site. Again, this is where hiring an Agency like Original Ginger has its advantages. We have an entire team of talented experts at our disposal, including professional writers.
Alternatively, you can create your own content for your website. Just remember, website content is a key factor in SEO. Some tasks are best left to an expert to ensure they are done right the first time.
10. Should I provide photos and graphics for my website?
That all depends! It’s a good idea to gather any existing custom photos, graphics, videos, or brand materials (i.e., a Brand Guide and logo files). Even if you are going in a new direction, these may still be helpful to your designer. You should also discuss if professional brand photography is needed, or if you’ll use stock images instead. Budget is usually a big factor in deciding which approach to take.
11. May I see a portfolio of your recent work?
Many design agencies showcase their work directly on their website. Take a look at their design styles and user experience. to decide if you like the type of work they do. Is it modern? Is it responsive for smart phones and tablets? Do you feel they are capable of delivering the type of website you want for your business? Do they have lots of positive reviews from past clients? Have they worked with any large brands you are familiar with?
Below is a selection of creative web design projects from our portfolio. Visit our case studies page to see more. We are proud of the work we do!
12. What content management system do you use?
First, what is a content management system (CMS)? It’s the platform the designer uses to create and organize content on your website. Most designers specialize in one or two types of content management systems. This is probably one of the most important questions to ask before hiring a web designer. You need to choose a designer proficient in the CMS that will best suit your needs and budget.
Since you are a crucial decision maker in choosing the CMS for your website, here are some key factors to consider:
- What type of budget do you have?
- How easy is it to use?
- Will you be adding content yourself? If so, how tech savvy are you?
- Will you be securing, maintaining and monitoring the website yourself post-launch?
- Does the CMS support your required integrations now and in the future?
- Do you have all the functionality required for your business now and in the future? Or does the platform have limitations?
- Are there any concerns about issues with SEO?
- Can you migrate your website elsewhere if you ever want to change web hosting? Some proprietary content management systems like WIX or Squarespace are not portable.
- Are you able to build and test the website prior to taking it live?
- Will the website be responsive for customers using smart phones and tablets?
At Original Ginger, we build websites on WordPress. WordPress is an open-source platform that allows any customization, function, or integration you could ever need. However, for smaller budget clients, we can provide expertise and recommendations to other platforms that may be more suitable, along with ways we can support you.
13. Do you build custom websites?
Web designers may offer completely custom websites, template websites, or a hybrid of the two. The key here is that you don’t want your website to look like everyone else’s. You want to stand out from the crowd. Not all CMS platforms are created equally.
Ask in advance about any specific features your website requires and clarify if there are any limitations on what can be done. You should also ask about any additional fees attached to the features you are requesting. If your designer has a proper client onboarding process in place, they’re likely to anticipate this question before you even ask!
14. Will my website design be responsive?
Responsive web design is about creating web pages that look good on all devices! Search engines like Google make having a mobile-friendly website imperative. If it’s not responsive, Google sends less search traffic to your website. Don’t waste your money on an outdated website!
15. Do you optimize web designs for search engines?
Search engine optimization should be included from the beginning of your project. SEO strategies like image and content optimization, alt tagging, up-to-date and accurate code, secure hosting, and responsiveness will help your site rank higher on Google. SEO built into your web design is your best chance to get targeted website traffic.
16. How many pages should my website have?
For most small business websites, 5 pages is enough: Home, About, Services, Blog and a Contact page. After some initial discussion with you, a savvy web designer will be able to help you determine how many website pages you should have.
If you plan to do any content marketing, ask the web designer if they have experience building landing pages. Landing pages for marketing campaigns are typically quoted separately from the initial website build.
17. Are you an e-commerce expert?
The design of an e-commerce site differs from a brochure service business website. Depending on the type of business you are in, you may require a hybrid approach. Is this something the web designer is comfortable with? Can they walk you through your options? Do they understand what questions to ask and how to guide you through the setup of an online store?
It’s crucial to consider the possible introduction of e-commerce into a web design project before determining what CMS to use. Proprietary platforms like WIX and Squarespace will limit the integration capability of certain e-commerce options. Also, if you want to integrate your e-commerce with your in-store inventory system or POS system, you’ll need guidance from a well-informed web designer who is very familiar with the e-commerce options available.
Since there are a lot of moving parts to setting up e-commerce, you should ask if the designer has a process for obtaining information from you about your products/services, pricing, skus, options, inventory etc.
If you aren’t ready to add a store just yet, be sure it will be possible to add a store to your existing website when you are ready. You want your customer’s shopping experience to be seamless.
At Original Ginger, we are experts at e-commerce. We can walk you through your options and help you make an informed decision for your business. We can show you examples of storefronts we’ve built and even give you a mini demo on what to expect.
18. How many design revisions do you allow?
A good designer will draft a formal agreement and outline how many revisions are included in the price. It’s important for both parties to establish checkpoints throughout the project where you can review and approve the work. But what happens if the first draft of your website design or content comes back and you don’t love it? There should be a mechanism in place for you to request changes and provide constructive feedback.
At Original Ginger, our process is very thorough and comprehensive from the start, so we may only offer one round of minor revisions. Then, if a client requires further exploration, or they want to introduce completely new ideas at that point, we quote the cost for further exploration.
19. What training or support do you offer after the website goes live?
If you want to make changes and updates on your own after the site goes live, make sure you discuss this with the web designer before choosing a CMS (See point 13 above). If the designer has a proper onboarding process, they’ve probably already anticipated this question. It’s unusual for most web designers to provide training after launching your website. Either you hire them to maintain the site for you, or you choose to go it alone!
At Original Ginger, we offer several options. Our membership area is open to clients for a period of time following project completion. Here, clients can find helpful video tutorials on how-to’s related to WordPress, blogging, email marketing, ecommerce and more. If a client chooses to hire us for long-term support, they receive access to the membership area for as long as they are an active client.
20. Who owns the website and its contents after it launches?
You own the content you upload to the website, but you don’t own the platform/template being used. Make sure your domain name and web hosting are registered in your name. Find out if your business will be required to lock into an ongoing service agreement after the website launches and if the designer plans to deliver any of the project files after launch.
Following project completion, we always upload project files to dropbox for clients to download. We also recommend that clients keep a backup of all files.
Do you feel more confident about what questions to ask before hiring a web designer? We hope our Top 20 list was helpful in preparing you for this exciting process!
Are you curious to know how Original Ginger can assist with your website design? Contact us at Toll Free at 1.855.298.8650 or complete our online form. We can’t wait to hear all about your project.