It is important to ensure you ask the right questions when selecting your website designer. Firstly this helps you get familiar with them, who they are, and how they will be to work with. Additionally, you will be able to evaluate their expertise and make sure that they are the right fit for you and your company.
There are two potential answers you are looking for to this question. The first is that they are familiar with your industry and have completed several similar projects in the past. If this is their response you can then ask that they send you through these designs so you can evaluate their style and confirm they are what you are looking for.
The other answer that you are looking for is no they are not familiar, however, they perform in-depth research on any industry they aren't completely familiar with to ensure they create a design that is competitive. What do I mean by competitive? Well a website design needs to take into account the end features the website will have if all your competitors share a common feature on their website, then you will likely need that same feature to retain a competitive edge.
For smaller businesses there can be a genuine benefit to finding a designer who can help your company in multiple areas. Of course, speaking to a single designer rather than 3 or 4 designers can help save you a lot of time. You might also be able to negotiate a package. Different skills you right look for are graphic design, web development, search engine optimisation, and even marketing skills. These will all help make the process of getting a high-quality website even more attainable.
This is a very important question as you can learn a little about what the designer intends to achieve with the updated version of your website. From here you can evaluate the value the designer bring and understand the direct impact their work will have on improving your business. Additionally, you might wish to ask if it is possible to achieve what they are trying to achieve by making a few tweaks to your existing website.
Working out how much you can afford to spend on an incredible website can be hard. Ultimately, if you end up with a website that will help you boost your sales this number is not as important, however, if you are going for a small design upgrade that isn't a complete overhaul then you need to consider what your expected returns will be to evaluate the total you are willing to spend.
When discussing budget it is also important to remember that purchasing your domain, buying stock images, paying for web hosting and paying for plugins are additional costs that you will likely need to cover. Depending on your business these costs will differ greatly. Hence, if your designer is also going to develop your website discuss these options with them and ask them if they can give you any guidance on pricing.
There is a large stigma that exists around outsourcing, as often individuals feel as if they are paying for one thing and getting another. However, just because a company outsources doesn't necessarily mean you should avoid them, many companies that outsource will pass on these savings straight to you and if done well you can end up with an even better project for a lower price.
So if they tell you they are outsourcing, how can you ensure there are no added risks?
There are a few extra questions you may wish to ask should your designer say they do outsource. You should ask about how this will affect the timeline, will there be a time difference and how will this affect communication, and last, is it likely to have additional costs. Hence, this is not about whether or not outsourcing is bad, it is more about enabling you to understand what you are agreeing to.
It is important that you have someone to reach out to should you need anything during the project. Many larger companies will have dedicated project managers, however, it is not uncommon for you to be working directly with your designer. Having a dedicated project manager can help make sure your project progresses through each stage smoothly, especially when the project you are undertaking has multiple stages involving a range of individuals.
Additionally, having a single dedicated contact means you never have to explain yourself twice, simply relay your thoughts, feelings and goals to your project manager and they will take care of the rest.
Ensuring your designer has a tried and tested process can help ensure you end up achieving exactly what you have asked for. This means a complete project that meets the requirements you discussed, on time and all on budget.
This is essential to ask as sometimes a designer might not even be fully aware of their current project completion time. This is because the time taken to complete a project is impacted by a number of factors. Things your designer will need to consider when giving you an answer to this question are:
With different factors affecting the project in different ways, it is often impossible to give an accurate estimate, so many will often give a range. For example, if clients are extremely quick to respond this can help move things along more quickly, similarly, if a client takes a week to respond each time, then the project will get delayed by this amount of time each time the designer pauses work to wait on a response.
This is a great question to ask especially if you have a busy schedule. Depending on what you want, you will likely hope for different answers. For example, if you love to be involved in everything that your company does including heavy involvement in your branding, then you may appreciate being more involved in the process, have the opportunity to select the right colours, choose from different options then you may appreciate designers that invite you to be heavily involved. Alternatively, if you are busy and are wanting to find a designer who you can trust to simply do an incredible job with minimal input then you may opt for a designer who only requires you to attend 1 or 2 meetings.
Most web designers major in design, some will work with separate copywriters however, this is far from being guaranteed. Hence, you can either outsource your copywriting, ask your designer if they would be able to connect you with a copywriter or use your expertise to create your own content if you are a confident writer yourself. If you choose to create it yourself then we highly recommend giving it to an editor or asking colleagues to critique it for you. The text on your website is incredibly important so we recommend taking this process very seriously.
In most cases, you do not need to provide images and your designer will use free stock imagery to populate your designs. However, if you have images it is a smart idea to provide these to your designer as soon as possible. This will ensure that they can create a design that complements your photography and creates a seamless design.
Some more affordable designers will base their designs on templates. This again is only as important as you make it. From templates, skilled designers can create unique feeling websites for more affordable prices. However, it is important that you understand what you are agreeing to and whether or not you are going to receive a completely unique design or a unique design based on a template.
A good designer's best sales tool is their previous work, hence they should be more than happy to send you through some of their previous designs. This will help you determine whether their style fits your brand and give you a good idea of the end product you can expect. When reviewing their previous work check whether they have created a user-friendly design with enough calls to action and a good flow to the final conversion.
This is a great question to ask as it allows you to get a little more insight into your designers head. Do their goals as a designer align with your goals as a business? Will the prioritise form over function? Depending on your brand you may want to priorities the look of your website over a focus on conversion, however, for most businesses, targeting conversions is the single most important goal of any website.
In most cases, designers will give you an option to approve the design and make any alterations you believe will improve your overall website. Depending on how much control your like to have, different designers will be a better fit. Some designers will create a design with no iterations and only minor changes whilst others may present you with several designs to choose from.
Basic website design and eCommerce website design are two very different things. The design of an eCommerce site is fundamentally different from a website for a service-based business. If you arent ready to add products or create a store but you are wanting to in the future, make sure you have a design that is scalable when the time comes.
Most designers will give you rights to the designs after they are complete. However, this does not mean that you can then sell on these designs, rather you have the right to use these designs on your website. It is also important to ask if you have the licence for all the images and fonts used on the website and if you could have these files to use across other marketing material and supply to your web developer if they are separate from your designer.
This is a tricky question, often designing and developing with different companies is more expensive than designing and developing with a single company. However, if there is a certain designer you really want to go with then skilled developers will be able to bring their designs to life. The cost difference comes from the lack of control the developers have on design. Hence, if you use a designer with little knowledge of how websites are created, then they might make designs that look simple but are incredibly complex to develop because they don't work directly with developers they are unaware. Of course, development complexity drives up costs.
Therefore there is a genuine benefit to choosing a company that does both design and development, you get quoted the cost upfront, you work with designers who have insight into the inner workings of the web and you will likely achieve the end product in a shorter period of time.
If you are looking for a skilled design and development agency that works with both service-based businesses and large e-commerce brands please get in touch we would love to talk.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema