The Important Questions to Ask a Web Designer Before Hiring Them
Knowing the questions to ask a web designer before hiring is essential to finding the best candidate. Hiring a web designer can be a daunting task. A Google search result lists web designers in the 100’s or 1000’s based on the city you live in.
Each web designer and company is unique. Finding the perfect fit based on both your timeline, cost, and scope vary in the quality one will receive. There are three things to consider -- cost, scope and timeline. Let's dive right in.
1. Cost: How Much is it Going to Cost to Hire a Web Designer?
Let’s start with the most common question everyone is thinking. How much is it going to cost to hire a web designer? It can cost anywhere from $500 to $25,000+ for a basic business website of 5 to 10 pages.
The lowest cost is a basic website build with little graphics, no consulting, and basic text. The most expensive a well branded, SEO, heavily advertised and marketed website. Most websites fall in the $3,000 to $5,000 range for a website that has basic SEO, beautiful graphics and a customer-driven website.
Hourly vs. Project-based Cost
Depending upon the scope of the project and the web designers style, the web design project may be based upon hourly or a flat-rate fee. A flat-rate fee, you have the idea of what the website will cost. An hourly rate, the web designer will give an estimate and try to hit the middle of the hourly rate. There are pros and cons to each approach.
With an hourly rate, the web designer will work on creating exactly what you like without having to feel like they are nickel and diming you. A flat rate gives a better feeling of a static price. Each web designer is different.
2. Timeline: How Long is it Going to Take to Build a Website?
Most websites can be built anywhere from one week to several months. It all depends upon how prepared the customer is and how available the web designer is. If the customer understands what they like and what they want from the website the faster the process will move.
Additionally, it also depends upon how popular the web designer is and where one gets put on their schedule. Some web designers have waitlists up to 3 – 6 months. Are you able to wait for your website?
3. Scope: What Does a Web Design Project Include?
The scope of a project is what truly sets the price. You, as the customer, need to know what you would like and what you are looking for. Let’s take a look at some factors you should look for in the scope of your website and how it relates to finding the right web designer. In turn, this will help determine the right questions to ask a web designer before hiring.
Before you begin your web design for your business, you need to understand your branding. I’m not only talking about colors and font but who your target audience is and who you serve.
The more you understand what your niche is the better your website will be in attracting your target audience. Does the web designer understand your brand and has a plan to attract your target audience?
Most web designers have a particular style when they design and develop a website. Are they more graphical, lots of white space, more colors? Does their style match your ideas? Take a look at their portfolio. Does their portfolio match your vision? If your idea is not in their portfolio, will they be able to match the vision you have in mind?
If you don’t have a vision, that is okay too. A great web designer can match your brand style and create a beautiful vision for you. In the call with the web designer, ask what vision do they have in mind for your website?
Is there an option to purchase web hosting through the web design company or the option to purchase your own web hosting through the company that you choose? If you purchase your web hosting through the web designer, you will be paying a monthly hosting and maintenance fee. Your website is not a project to just drop and then run.
You will want to continue to maintain your website, so this is a good option especially if you are not technical. The downside of purchasing your hosting with the web designer is that you are stuck with your website on their host with the web designer’s prices and fees.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects. A website is not just a statistic project. Websites continually need to be checked and the plugins, themes, and CMS need to be updated with each new release. This helps prevent you from being hacked, your website running slow, and errors displaying on the pages.
Website maintenance is important and essential for your ongoing business. Does the web designer offer maintenance plans and what are the prices?
What website platform do they use? This is a question that most people don’t know to ask, but it is an important one. What platform does the web designer build with -- Wix, Squarespace, Joomla, Weebly, WordPress, Woocommerce, Drupal, Shopify, etc? Wix, Squarespace and Weebly are website template builders with limited functionality. Joomla and Drupal are more advanced coding style websites mainly used by large corporations that want specific website coding done.
Shopify is an excellent choice for e-commerce shops that have lots of items but don’t want to blog. Woocommerce is a great shopping platform that is part of WordPress. WooCommerce is recommended if your business is already using WordPress. The best choice for a website is WordPress -- and for good reason -- WordPress powers 34.6 percent of websites.
This is the largest share of the market and is growing steadily in the past few years. One of the reasons behind this success is the unparalleled versatility that allows WordPress to be deployed everywhere from personal blogs and small businesses to large Fortune 500 companies, such as Disney, CNN and BBC America. It is also the only platform that allows you to “own your data.”
If your website is built on WordPress, what theme does the web designer use? Knowing the name of the theme is not always important, but understanding they use a theme from an established theme company is. Do they purchase a theme or create it themselves? Steer away from web designers that create their own theme, unless you are specifically looking for a website function not available.
I recently had a customer contact me to help them because, with the latest WordPress update, their theme shows errors on all their pages. The web designer is out of business and they are stuck with a broken website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO can mean 100s of different things. SEO allows you to rank higher in a search engine for specific keywords. Google looks at 200+ items, which is all considered SEO. To make it even more confusing is that there are 100s of tools to use to help with SEO.
The first steps of SEO should be to understand who your ideal customer is and hit the keywords on the web pages of your website. This is called On-Page SEO. This is the foundation of SEO. I won’t get into the 199 other aspects of SEO, but starting here is the most important part. Does the web designer offer on-page SEO services?
How fast are the websites that they create? The last thing you want is for your website to be slow and have a high bounce rate. What is the speed of the websites in the customer’s portfolio? Do they have solutions to speed up a website if the website is slow?
Do you want to write your own website content or have someone write it for you? Most web designers do not write website content, but they can help you create more dynamic wording, help the wording to flow better, and make sure the wording is customer-driven.
They also have a list of professional copywriters that you may work with to help with your website writing.
How does the designer communicate? Do you want to meet the web designer in person for a face to face meeting? Are you comfortable working with them over the phone? Or do you prefer email or text?
Communication is important throughout the project to keep the project moving and executed to the customers liking. Are you comfortable with the designer’s style of communication?
Solopreneur vs. Design Agency
What team or individual is assigned to the project? Is your web designer part of a team where you need to work with multiple people or are you just working with the web designer? If you are hiring a larger company, are you comfortable with working with multiple people or do you want to work with a solopreneur? Multiple people mean that each person has a specific role, but it also can slow a project down waiting on each person and understand each person’s communication style.
I recommend supporting your local web designers and go local as much as possible. If you don’t find a great match, you can expand your search criteria.
A web designer that matches your style within your budget and timeline is out there. Interview several designers to find the right fit.
Knowing the right questions to ask a web designer and understanding what you want from your web design project is essential to having a successful website.