Here’s why your questions are critical:
It’s vital to know what to ask when hiring a web designer because your website might be one of the most important investments that your business makes.
It’s often the primary factor in convincing someone to become a paying customer, or at least to get on the phone with you.
Your website’s ability to convert visitors into customers has a large impact on the profitability of your various marketing efforts.
Whether you get customers through paid advertising, referrals, or anything else… your potential customers will almost always check your website before making their final decision.
It’s crucial to think of your website as a strategic investment that will impact the bottom line of your business, rather than just another expense to minimize.
What to ask when hiring a web designer:
Doing proper due diligence when choosing your web designer will enable you to select the right partner for the job, and ultimately increase your future revenue.
Be sure to ask these 16 questions when interviewing web designers:
1. Can you help me write the content?
Most web designers don’t help with content creation, even though it’s one of the most critical elements in your website’s performance and its ability to generate a return on investment.
If a web designer doesn’t help with content creation, it means 1 of 2 things:
- They’re not good at writing content, OR:
- They want to eliminate the hassle of writing content
This leaves you alone to tackle one of the most daunting tasks…
You might be an outstanding writer, but that doesn’t mean you know what type of content works best from a digital marketing perspective. It’s a different skill set.
And even if you’ve been trained in content creation for websites, it’s still important for the web designer to play a major role.
Your website’s design and content are intimately related – you can’t do one without the other.
The design and content must be created simultaneously to achieve perfect harmony and elegance.
If any of your content is too long or too short (or if you’re using the wrong content entirely), you can say goodbye to having a beautiful design.
On top of that – your content needs to contain specific keywords to get your website ranked on Google, and you probably don’t know what keywords to use… but your web designer should.
2. Can you optimize my website for Google?
Even if you don’t care about getting traffic from Google right now, it’s always best to choose a web designer who also focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in case you change your mind later on.
You’ll very likely want to focus on SEO at some point down the road, and you’ll end up saving a lot of money if you get it right from the beginning.
If the website is not set up correctly for SEO from the beginning, you’ll need to undo a lot of the previous work and potentially start everything over from scratch – leading to a higher cost overall.
You might think you’re saving money by not caring about SEO right now, but in the long run it might come back to haunt you… that’s why we almost always include SEO as a part of our web design service in Toronto.
3. Will I be communicating directly with the person who is actually building my website?
Many web designers outsource the actual work to other web designers that charge next to nothing.
This allows them to make money without doing the actual work AND without having their own employees.
But to get the perfect website, it’s vital to have a direct line of communication with the person who’s actually building it.
Here are 3 things that happen when you don’t have a direct line of communication:
- Feedback gets misinterpreted, ideas get lost or forgotten, and the whole vision becomes misaligned.
- It takes forever to hear back from your “project manager” because of the long line of communication. This gets even worse if the people who are “fulfilling the work” are outsourcing the work as well. Web designers don’t usually disclose when they’re outsourcing the work… which can create a long chain of outsourcing…
- You get overcharged. When there’s a “middle person” involved, you’re paying for the time of multiple people instead of just 1 person. By paying for only 1 person’s time, not only will you avoid getting overcharged, but you’re also more likely to be satisfied with your website.
Make sure you’ve got a direct line of communication!
4. How many rounds of revisions do I get?
You’re not fully satisfied by your web designer’s work and you’d like to make a few changes.
But then your web designer says “you’ve already made the maximum number of revisions so you’ll need to pay extra”.
Does that sound fair to you? Of course not! You hired them to make your website perfect, so why should you pay extra if they failed to meet your expectations?
Make sure your web designer provides unlimited revisions… or you might end up paying much more than you expected!
5. Can I find your reviews on any online review platforms?
Do you fully trust “testimonials” when you see them on someone’s website?
The unfortunate reality is that testimonials are often tampered with. The wording can easily be changed to make it sound better. Sometimes they’re even fake!
And of course, only their happiest clients will be showcased.
Check their actual reviews on trusted online platforms by Googling “company name reviews”. This will get you a better picture of their average client satisfaction.
And if you can’t find legitimate reviews anywhere, that’s a big red flag.
The web designer’s portfolio is important too, but reviews tell you whether they listen to what the client wants. Their portfolio might look good to you, but that doesn’t mean their clients are satisfied. Everyone has a unique vision for their website.
Also, keep in mind that their portfolio only contains the projects that they’re most proud of, and it might not reflect the work you’ll actually get.
And what if their process isn’t smooth? What if they’re frustrating to deal with?
Check their reviews!
6. Do I have full ownership and control of my website?
Too many web design agencies will unethically handcuff you to their services by holding your website hostage.
If they go out of business or fail to provide quality service, you won’t be able to leave and take your website with you… because it’s theirs.
Don’t forget to ask if the website is in fact YOURS!
7. What strategies will you use to convert my website visitors into real leads?
The whole point of your website is to convert website visitors into paying customers.
So your web designer should have a conversion strategy in place… they shouldn’t just be trying to make it “look pretty”.
What’s the point of looking good if it doesn’t increase your bottom line?
When building a website, it’s important to have an understanding of psychology, design principles, copywriting, site structure, and how to develop a successful conversion strategy.
Ask your web designer: “How exactly will my website convert visitors into leads?”
The right answer depends on your industry, but if they can’t answer the question with confidence and clarity, it’s probably not a good fit.
8. Can you help maintain my website on an ongoing basis?
Some web designers fail to mention that they won’t be able to help you after the site is launched.
If you want to make any changes to the site later on, they might tell you to find someone else. Or they’ll make a referral if you’re lucky.
But even if they make a referral – this isn’t the ideal process for you. You probably don’t want to go through the hassle of interviewing another designer.
More importantly – the new designer might not fully understand the overall strategy or structure of your website, causing mistakes to be made.
Also, keep in mind that website “maintenance” means more than just making changes when your website is built on WordPress (which it most likely is).
WordPress websites need to be maintained from a technical perspective too – so that things don’t break or get hacked.
If nobody is maintaining your website on an ongoing basis (from a technical perspective) it’ll end up costing you MORE money and time in the long run.
So make sure your web designer will maintain your website on an ongoing basis – from both an editing perspective AND a technical perspective. For more information, read our in-depth article on why you need WordPress maintenance.
9. What platform do you use to build websites?
There are dozens of notable website building platforms out there, but by far the most popular platform is WordPress.
The dominant market share held by WordPress is well deserved.
Simply put, WordPress is the most customizable platform on the market.
In many cases, if you’re using a different platform, you’ll still be able to build everything that you want. However, you never know what kind of additional functionality you’ll need to build in the future.
If you need to add something complex to your website in the future (on a platform other than WordPress), there’s a good chance that you’ll be out of luck due to the limited customization capabilities of other platforms.
This is why most professional web designers and developers exclusively use WordPress. If you’re using a platform other than WordPress, you might have a harder time finding elite talent to help you out.
In almost all cases, the best choice is to hire someone who uses WordPress. At Azuro Digital, we’re the top rated WordPress design and development company in Canada and would love to diagnose your website requirements.
10. Can you help streamline my company’s operations?
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a good chance that you can automate some of your key workflows.
It’s ideal to work with a web designer who can get you set up with the right software for your business, whether it’s integrated with your website or not.
Here are some things you might want:
- Online payment processing
- Appointment scheduling system
- Email marketing / email automation
- CRM setup and integrations (to minimize manual data entry)
- Live chat / chat bots / chat agents
- Dynamic content management system
- User signup & login
- Third party app integrations
- And so much more!
Ask your web designer for recommendations on how to streamline your processes and make your business more efficient and effective!
11. Can I see a portfolio of LIVE websites?
Most web designers have portfolios on their websites, but it’s common for them to consist of images rather than links to live websites.
When this is the case, be sure to ask them for the links. There are 3 reasons why it’s important to see the actual live websites:
- Images can easily be altered to make the design look better, and in some cases the images are of websites that weren’t designed by them at all. By using images, they’re able to conceal the real identity and contact information of the company to make it impossible for you to reach out to them and confirm who their web designer was.
- Images typically only show the desktop version of the website, but it’s equally (if not more) important to see the mobile version of the website too. You’ll be able to see the mobile version if you have access to the live URL.
- In addition to designing and developing your website, another job of your web designer is to handle the ongoing technical maintenance of your website on WordPress. Some web designers do a great job of designing the website but then they fail to properly maintain the website from a technical perspective. Failing to perform essential upkeep can cause the website’s layout to change, pages to load slower, and functionalities to break. When you don’t have access to the live URL, you won’t be able to see whether they’re doing a good job maintaining it.
12. What strategy do you recommend for my industry?
While it’s not essential for your web designer to have direct experience working with a company in your exact industry, it’s important to know what their game plan would be.
Your web designer should have a specific strategy for the design aesthetic, call-to-actions, search engine optimization, and more. They should be able to clearly articulate when their strategy is for your industry.
13. What support/involvement will be required from my side?
In an ideal world, your web designer would be able to design and develop your website without any input from your end – so that you can focus on running your business.
However, this simply isn’t possible (especially if you want the best results). Web design is a collaborative process between the client and the designer.
If the web designer says that you won’t need to do ANYTHING, that’s a red flag because it means that they don’t genuinely care about your results and they’re just trying to get the website finished as quickly as possible – and you’ll end up dissatisfied with your website.
The right web designer will be transparent upfront about the expected amount of communication and deliverables from your end. The right web designer will also make an effort to minimize the amount of work required from your end whenever it makes sense.
Most importantly, before moving forward with a designer, it’s best to receive a written timeline of events that would take place during the project. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting into – increasing the likelihood that you’ll finish the project on-time and without frustration.
14. Will the website be mobile-friendly and responsive?
In a world where the majority of people use phones instead of computers to surf the web, your web designer’s answer to this question is paramount.
In the vast majority of cases, web designers will say “yes” to this question, but it’s better to take the live URLs of their portfolio items and run it through Google’s mobile-friendly test software.
A website might appear mobile friendly to you, but there are hundreds of small factors that you might not notice and it’s vital for EVERYTHING to be perfect in order to have a chance of getting your website ranked on Google through search engine optimization (SEO). Mobile responsiveness is a critical factor in SEO and it’s important for every aspect of your mobile experience to be flawless.
15. What is the estimated (realistic) deadline for the project?
The launch date is heavily dependent on how quickly the client sends content, provides feedback, and gives approvals.
However, the web designer should still be able to give an estimate on the timeline under the assumption that the client always responds within a few days.
So, how long should it take for the website to get built? There’s no 100% correct answer to this question as it depends on the complexity and size of the project.
If it’s a very simple website, 2-4 weeks is realistic as long as the client responds quickly. If it’s a complex or large website, it might take much longer than that.
In any case, you’ll want your web designer to provide some sort of estimate so that you don’t end up getting your website finished too far into the future.
16. Can you design a website to fit my budget?
If you’re on a tight budget and the web designer’s price is a little too high, you might be able to eliminate some of the non-essential features in order to bring the price down a little bit.
However, after all of the non-essential features have been eliminated to provide a lower price, it’s in the best interests of the client to not bargain for a cheaper price (without a real reason for a cheaper price).
The main reason is due to the fact that if your web designer is willing to lower their price for no reason, it probably means that they’re not great at what they do. Great web designers have respect for their work and they don’t provide unjustified discounts.
Another reason why you don’t want to bargain with your web designer is because it starts your relationship out on the wrong foot. Your website has a significant impact on the bottom line of your business, so it’s important for your web designer to be motivated and to give 100% of their effort. If you force them to lower their price, they might put less effort into ensuring that your website is perfect. You get what you pay for!
Are you thinking about getting a new website soon?
At Azuro Digital, we build websites that stand out from the crowd and we’re also an award-winning SEO company in Canada – producing a strong return on investment for our clients.
We would love to discuss your project and provide you with an actionable strategy for your website. Click here to get a quote today!