Working with a web designer can either be a smooth, easy and delightful process from start to finish, where your web designer just ‘gets’ you and your business; or it can be a nightmare that goes on for far too long and results in a not-fit-for-purpose website that doesn’t help your business.
A new website is a big investment, and, like any big investment, it’s important to do your research before committing. But where to begin? How do you know what to look for and what to ask if you don’t know much about how websites are built?
To help your business, I’ve created this list of questions you should ask a web designer before hiring them. This is a great starting point to finding a good-fit, trustworthy and strategy-driven web designer for your brand.
1 – What’s your approach to designing websites?
The main purpose of a website is to act as a strategic marketing tool for your business. Websites grow businesses.
What is a good answer? Ideally, the web designer should tell you that they take a strategic approach to web design. In practice, this means that before any design work begins, the web designer will spend time learning more about your business. Then, in consultation with you, the web designer will create clear goals for the project. These goals are what guide the web design. The web designer should also help you structure the website (decide what pages and features it needs) and help you decide what content it needs.
(Be wary of web designers who simply ask you to send them all content for the website before even talking to you).
2 – Do you build SEO-friendly websites?
SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation, means optimising a website so that search engines like Google favour it when displaying search engine results. The number 1 goal of SEO is to help the website appear on the first page of search engine results. SEO is complex; many factors influence a website’s search engine ranking, but what’s important when working with a website designer is that you find out whether they design with SEO in mind.
What is a good answer? A web designer that designs with SEO in mind should tell you that their service includes something called on-page SEO. On-page SEO is about making a website search engine friendly and includes adding elements and features such as h (heading tags) and p (paragraph tags); meta information like page titles and descriptions (which is information specifically for search engines); social media sharing information; and image alt tags. They should also help you connect your website to Google Analytics and Search Console, which are two free tools used to understand and improve a website’s search engine ranking. All SEO-friendly websites also need a sitemap.
Bear in mind that on-page SEO is usually not enough to push a website onto the first page of Google search results; it’s just the starting point, so don’t expect this of your new website. But do ask your web designer if they offer ongoing SEO support.
3 – Which website building system do you use and why?
There are many different ways to build a website. Some of the popular website building platforms on the market include WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly. Each has pros and cons.
With Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly you don’t have to worry about website hosting; that’s all taken care of as part of your monthly subscription. The problem with this is that you don’t 100% own or have full access to your website files. You also don’t have full design flexibility.
WordPress is known as a self-hosted solution. This means you organise your own web hosting with a web hosting company and install the open-source WordPress software onto your server (don’t worry – your web designer will do this for you). The benefits? You 100% own and control all your website files and have full design flexibility. WordPress is the most popular website building system in the world.
Ask the web designer to tell you what platform they use, and why. Make sure that their preferred system makes sense for your business.
4 – Can I see your portfolio / websites you’ve designed?
Spend time looking at the web designer’s portfolio and ask yourself these questions: Do you actually like the websites they’ve designed? Do you like their style? Do the websites work on smaller screens, like a mobile phone? Do they function properly? Are they fit for purpose?
5 – When will you be able to start designing my website?
Some designers are booked out months in advance, so it’s important to ask this question right at the start, particularly if your project is time-sensitive. Also, ask them how long it will take to build your website.
6 – How many design revisions / reviews do you allow?
If the first design draft comes back and you’re not completely in love, you should be able to ask for revisions. Most designers allow for 2 -3 rounds of revisions before they start charging at their hourly rate. Find out how many revisions you’re allowed and what the designer’s hourly rate is.
7 – Can you help me build a website sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a strategy for collecting your website visitors’ email addresses. Most people who visit your website won’t be ready to take action just yet (purchase something from you, fill in your enquiry form, etc). In fact, it generally takes at least 7 interactions with a brand for someone to take action. This makes it important to figure out a way to stay in contact with your potential clients or customers so you can nurture the relationship. A sales funnel works by asking a visitor for their email address in exchange for a free piece of content, discount or offer in the case of eCommerce (a guide, a workbook, a checklist, a webinar, a tutorial video, a % discount off their first order, free shipping etc).
A funnel will help your website become the marketing or sales automation tool that it needs to be.
8 What’s your process?
Asking this question will help you figure out whether the web designer is a newbie just starting out or an experienced designer with a solid and efficient web design work process.
It will also help you to understand what to expect from working with them.
9 Will you install a backup and security / malware system?
This question relates to WordPress web designers. WordPress is the most popular website building system in the world, which also makes it the one that hackers are most likely to attack.
Ask your web designer whether their service includes setting up an automated website backup system and a security system that protects the site from malware and brute force attacks.
10 What happens after my website launches?
A website should not be left alone and forgotten about. Successful websites are constantly evolving, growing and improving. Ask your web designer how they can help with this.
What this looks like in practice:
- Publishing regular blog posts on the website. Blogging is a great way to improve a website’s search engine ranking; get more people to visit the website (via sharing the post on social media) and build authority and trust in your brand.
- Improving and further developing the sales funnel.
- Measuring traffic to the website using a tool such as Google Analytics.
- Ongoing conversion optimisation.
- Ongoing SEO.
I hope you found this guide useful
Planning a new website can feel intimidating at first; there’s so much you don’t know about. Working with the right web designer makes the process that much easier and smoother. It really is important to find someone you like and trust.
If you have any more questions, I’m always just an email away – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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