Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
If you are looking for a web designer to help with your next small business website, ask the following questions, to avoid major issues during the project.
Take the time to conduct a phone interview or meet in person, to ask these key questions. Building a relationship and open line of communication with a web designer from the outset helps ensure that your project will be set up for success.
(Feel free to download our sample questionnaire here, which you can use when interviewing prospective web designers.)
1. Can you send me a list of sites that you have designed previously?
Ask for a few live working examples of sites the designer has completed for other clients. Don’t accept screenshots or mockups. Seeing a live site will give you a sense of the person’s attention to detail.
2. How much do you charge?
Find out if you will be paying a fixed fee for the whole site or if you will be charged hourly for all requests. Some web designers will charge per page design or for each page on the site.
3. Will I have a project manager or one central contact?
Working with a team of people on your website can be efficient, but having a central point of contact dedicated to your site will ensure that one person stays informed on the status of the project.
4. How many rounds of revisions am I allowed?
Establishing your limits when it comes to edits and revisions can be critical. Will you be allowed to make edits at each stage of the project, such as design and development, or will you only be allowed revisions at the end of the project? Are you allowed two rounds of revisions (or more) or just one?
5. What are your payment terms?
Many web designers will request a deposit to begin work, with either the final payment due upon project completion or partial payments at key stages during the site’s development. Avoid projects that require payment in full as it leaves no room for changes or issues that may come up.
6. Can I edit the website myself, and which parts?
Ask the designer if she will be setting up a content management system or if the site will be static? How many people have access to edit the site? Will she provide training to your staff? Is there any documentation on editing the site? Also, ask which parts you will be able to edit and how difficult those sections will be to edit.
7. What support do you offer after the site goes live?
Ask about ongoing maintenance and monitoring packages. What happens if the site gets hacked or if something stops working? Does the designer provide routine backups?
8. Do you start from templates or build custom sites?
If the designer is starting from a template, ask about licensing and whether other local business sites have the same template? Does she update templates or provide support if the site is broken following core updates? If custom, does she provide ample testing and browser compatibility?
9. How long do typical website design projects take?
Every project is different but ask how long sites typically take to complete. Are there any incentives if it is completed early or any penalties for missed deadlines? Also, ask how long particular phases of a project take, to ensure things stay on time. Ask about the length of time you have to review and provide feedback.
10. Will it be a responsive site that works on multiple mobile and tablet devices?
Will the site be coded for responsive design? Will she design for just mobile breakpoints, or tablets as well? Will she provide mockups of the mobile and tablet interfaces? Will it be load-optimized for mobile or be just a smaller version of the desktop site?
11. What are the client expectations during the process? What assets do I need to supply?
Clarify your responsibilities and those that the web designer will handle. Get in writing all expectations and requirements for each party so that everyone is held accountable.
Get clear dates and deadlines on when deliverables are due or when you need to provide assets and feedback. Will you need to provide any copy, images, hosting, or other items to the web designer, or will she handle it?
12. Who will write the content?
Some web designers employ copywriters to manage the writing and optimization of your website’s text. If that is the case, ask if you need to provide bullet points for each page. If you are writing the copy, ask for guidance on length, tone, and style. Ask for suggested word counts for each page. Lastly, ask the designer to provide any SEO keywords to include in the copy.
13. What search engine optimization or marketing do you do for the site?
Will the web designer be performing on-site search engine optimization during the setup process? Does she offer off-site optimization? Also, does she submit your site to local or niche directories? Will she continue to optimize blog posts or compose additional ongoing content? If so, does this service require ongoing fees?
14. What other services do you provide?
Although you might have engaged the designer to create your website, ask if she provides additional services, such as email templates and social media content or tools? This could help make your design and online marketing tools more consistent.
15. What type of results can I expect?
Every business is different, but ask the web designer if she has any expectations of what kind of growth you can expect? How long before you begin seeing results? Does she expect a dip in results after launch? How will you track conversions? Will you have access to analytics from the CMS or a service such as Google Analytics? Will you still have historical data on your old site after launch?