Whether you’re redesigning a website or starting fresh, you’ll need to ask certain questions when hiring a website designer to make sure you choose the right company. What should you ask? Here are seven questions to get you started.

1. Can I see examples of your websites
Reviewing previous designs will give you a sense of the web designer’s style.  You might not know what you want, but you know what you don’t want.  If they show you some designs and, you simply don’t like them, then you probably won’t be happy with what they design for you.   This question also leads naturally into a request for references and a discussion of experience. While a new company may be hungry and ready to go the extra mile, it hasn’t yet proven that it can actually make it work. Companies that have been around for a while have shown that they can succeed and even learned a few tricks along the way that you’re likely to benefit from. Since Design 4 Dot Com has been in business for 15 years, we’ve graduated from the school of hard knocks.

2. What content management system package do you use?
A content management system, which is often referred to as CMS, is the key to developing and managing the content that appears on your website. Some web designers use a proprietary system that leaves you dependent on them. This can be a real headache if you have a falling out with them or they go out of business. Other designers use an open source package that can be updated by anyone with the necessary knowledge. We’ve found that WordPress works well for both us and our clients.  It’s a secure content management system that is widely used among the web development community and easily customizable.  This creates a win-win for all involved.

3. What about SEO?
Having a website only benefits your business if people can find it, and that means that you need a website that is Google-friendly. Search engine optimization is a blend of art, science and hard work that strives to help search engines find and list your website.  Frankly, SEO should be built into your website’s design. But most web designers are not SEO experts.  It’s important to find a web design company who also understands website marketing and can  build the site with SEO in  mind.  Of course, SEO isn’t a once-and-done kind of thing. Like a garden, it needs to be tended to regularly  If you plan on hiring an SEO company after the site is competed, ask if the web designer offers SEO optimization services.

4. What other services can you provide?
Will your site be an e-commerce site? Then you’ll want a designer who can create online shopping carts and understand website usability. Are you interested in hosting services or help capitalizing on social media? What about corporate blogging as a way to add content to your website that is valuable to your target audience? Do you want to start an email campaign to keep in touch with your clients as well as attract new clients? As you explore the web design company’s menu of services, think about what you need for your website now and how you want to developing your marketing the future.

5. What do you need from me?
Every craftsman needs certain tools and materials, and website designers are no exception. Be sure to inquire about what you’ll need to provide in order to get the job done right.  Most web design companies only need content and images from you?  But what if you don’t have that and need help?  Can they help procure the content for your company?  Do they have access to royalty-free stock images that best portray your message to your target audience?  It’s important to find a web design company who can help fill those gaps.  We understand you are busy running your business.  It would be great to hand off some of the technical details to a trusted partner.

6. How much will this cost?
A high-quality website can really pay off for your business, but you have to be able to pay for it first. Ask about pricing and determine how the costs of your wants and your needs will fit into your budget. Most development companies work on a 50% deposit and 50% at completion.  Do you want to set benchmarks for payment?  This should be a conversation with you and your development company.  If your website is small and does not have a lot of different types of functionality, then 50/50 works fine.  If you are launching multiple features at different times, then maybe treat each of those as independent jobs.

7. Do we have a good rapport?
This question is more for you than your prospective website designer. Will you be comfortable working with them? Is there a sense of professionalism that builds confidence? What about communication? Do you feel like they understand what you are saying? When they talk about websites and their design, do they use plain English? Are they responsive when you try to get in touch with them? If you are thinking about enlisting them for continuing SEO or blogging services, would you be interested in building a long-term relationship with them? While the answers are somewhat subjective, they matter.

At Design 4 Dot Com, we’re ready to assist you with all your website design needs. Put our 15 years of experience to work for you.  Contact us today to learn more about our services or request a quote.

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