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12 critical questions to ask your website designer before making a decision

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A website is the first point of contact for your business. It’s where you can tell your story, share your products and services, and reach out to new clients.

But if you don’t have a website, it’s as if you’re not even there. And without a professional-looking site, it’s hard to get clients in the door. 

Website design is not just about the looks of your website. It is also about how easy it is to find information on your website, how easy it is to navigate the site, and how well it functions.

When it comes to designing a website, there are many things that need to be considered. The design should be not only aesthetically pleasing but also user-friendly and informative.

Hiring a website designer is one of the most important things a business owner will experience. Whether you’re creating a brand new website for your company for the first time or redesigning a current one, the website designer you choose will determine the success of your website.

So, what are the most important questions to ask your website designer before hiring?

When building your new website, it’s vital to consider what questions to ask your website designer. A website is a serious investment, so I’ve gathered a list of questions to ask your website designer to ensure you get your money’s worth and enjoy the process.

What platform will you use to build my website?

Choosing a website platform, also known as a website builder, is like choosing a foundation for your home. All of the following, appearance, features, user experience, maintenance, additions, etc. are influenced by this choice.

The most important question in choosing the right platform for building your website is what you want to achieve with your website. Some platforms are better for e-commerce (like Shopify), while others are good for business websites (like Wix, Squarespace), and some are best for both of them (like my personal favorite, WordPress.org).

Some platforms are free to use, like WordPress.org but you have to pay for a hosting service, and some are based on a subscription plan, like Squarespace. The idea is to choose a platform that not only works for you today but can grow at the same speed as your business. 

I recommend choosing a website platform with a CMS (content management system). This gives you more control and freedom over your website. You can use the  CMS  to save images, PDFs, and more. This usually makes it much easier to organize your files, edit content, and manage and scale your site.

When you ask your website designer about this, you need to consider all the features you currently want and what you would like to do with your website in the future, because some platforms may not be able to easily implement the desired functionality. If it is important to you that you can easily manage your website without a lot of help from the website designer, then you need a platform that can provide that.

Besides all this, there are website designers who are specialized in one platform only, like in my case, where I exclusively use WordPress.org (together with Elementor PRO). So if you want a website on Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, etc. I couldn’t help you because I don’t have the experience to offer you a quality service.

What do you need from me to create my website?

This is another one from the list of good questions to ask your website designer before you start building your website. This will help you avoid wasting time during the build process and avoid delays in launching your site.

I always tell my clients that this is the hardest part – getting the content ready for the site. In my work experience, I’ve rarely had a client that was 100% ready with content before we started the site and each time, the deadline was extended because we had to wait for the pictures, copy, lead magnets, payment processor information, and legal terms to be ready.

Your website designer should at least provide you with a checklist of what you need to prepare based on the pages needed and the goal of your site. If you need help with this, I have a free Website Planner you can check out. You will definitely need website copy, photography, a logo, a color palette, fonts, and SEO optimization. But content creation depends very much on the process and services of the website designer, and the budget you have available.

A low budget means that you will be in charge of preparing all the content, while a higher budget gives you the freedom to outsource some of these tasks.

Make sure you get all the information you need and if your website designer can handle partial or complete creation of content for your website. Some website designers offer more than web design services, some can create your website copy, brand identity, or photography too. Or they can outsource these tasks to other people.

Besides the content part, your website designer will also need access to the accounts where you bought the domain and hosting. If you don’t have this already, ask him if he can recommend a specific company where you can buy both. For international clients, I always recommend Siteground, and for Romanian clients the local company – Hosterion.

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Can you help me with branding, marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO)?

This leads us to the next questions to ask your website designer. 

As I said before, it is possible that your website designer can help you with other tasks related to the website, or he can take care of the outsourcing and project management side, and you just have to give him the necessary information.

Some website designers have related skills such as search engine optimization, graphic and logo design, content writing, or other relevant marketing experience. This means they’ll be able to help you with a lot more than just designing your website.

Regardless of your website designer’s skills, it’s important to let them know what you need their help with, what you’ll want to outsource, and what you’ll personally handle. Communicating this information gives you an overview of the different parts you need to integrate during the project, how long you need to wait until the content is ready, and what the timeline for creating the site will be.

Also, if your website designer doesn’t have the necessary experience to handle the extra work you want, he or she may know other creative people who specialize in that field and can recommend them.

For example, although I am knowledgeable about SEO (search engine optimization) and copywriting, I don’t have enough experience to offer this to my clients and it’s not my zone of genius either, so I prefer to recommend other female entrepreneurs I work with who specialize in these fields. 

Are you a freelancer or part of a bigger agency?

Add this one to the list of questions to ask your website designer because it’s a big one! So why does this question you need to ask your website designer matter? Because there is a significant difference between the two and how they manage a project.

A freelancer can usually help you with a specific service they specialize in, like in my case web design. An agency, on the other hand, can most likely offer you a complete digital solution, without you having to look for other specialists to handle SEO, brand identity, content writing, etc. However, in the case of an agency, you can’t choose the website designer you work with, because you will most likely be assigned a random person depending on the size of your business.

Because freelancers work on their own, their reputation and recommendations are very important for their business. They will make sure you get excellent service and that everything you need is taken care of. It is in their best interest to get the best results so that you can recommend them to other businesses.

Reputation for an agency is just as important, but the employee assigned to you may not feel the same need as a freelancer to deliver an excellent service. After all, he will get his pay at the end of the month, no matter what the service looks like. 

The freelancer, unlike an agency, generally handles fewer projects at the same time so will also be able to prioritize the design of your website. For example, if I have a project that is bigger, I prefer to work exclusively on it so that I can dedicate all my time and focus 100% on delivering a great website and service. For an agency, the prioritization and focus are based on the size of the business. If your business is a small one, it may not be at the top of their list, as they prefer to deal with big clients that bring in more money, and your project may not get the attention it deserves.

Communicating with an agency can be more cumbersome and infrequent, as some agencies prefer to allocate weekly or monthly calls to specific projects. A freelancer may accept more informal communication and be able to chat with them via messaging or social media. Also, because they are not dealing with many clients at the same time, the freelancer’s response and access can also be quicker and more timely.

Another difference between the two comes from a cost perspective. A freelancer doesn’t charge you a fixed, monthly salary, but can be paid per project or per hour, depending on the type of work you need. An agency has higher expenses for office space and various employees, which can make the price for your project much higher.

The decision to choose between a freelance website designer or a digital agency is a difficult one. You have to consider the stage of your business, your budget, what tasks you’re prepared to outsource, how important it is to have a contact person with whom you can communicate quickly and easily, etc.

What is your process like?

Besides seeing a portfolio, there’s another way to tell if a website designer has experience. It’s a great idea to have some questions to ask your website designer about their web design process.

A great sign that your website designer has the experience and has worked with several clients is to ask them about their process. Ask the website designer about what the whole process of building the website looks like, from start to finish. Besides, validating his experience, you’ll also feel more confident in the project knowing what happens at each step and what phases you’ll follow.

You need your website designer to be in charge of project management and know the process you are going through because after all, that is what you are hiring him for. She is the expert and needs to ensure an efficient and easy working process that takes the stress out of building the website and makes it enjoyable for everyone (because it can be!).

In general, my web design process includes the brief, planning, design and development, and launch phases. The brief is the first contact, where we get to know each other and I find out details about what you want, what you and your business do, what your ideal website looks like, etc. Then in the planning phase, I research your competition, and your domain, determine what pages will be on the site, color palettes and fonts (if you don’t already have a brand identity created), and how we structure the information on the pages. In the design and development phase, we start the actual building of the website. We will now work together to determine the design direction and refine the details through constant feedback so that in the launch phase you can feel proud of your site and promote it freely. 

Knowing the process creates a transparent, trusting relationship and increases credibility between client and website designer. So don’t forget to put this on the checklist of questions to ask your website designer.

Do you have experience in the type of design I’m looking for?

Or other similar questions to ask your website designer are: “Do you have some examples of your work?”, “How many websites have you designed before?”

With these types of questions to ask your website designer, your goal is to find out if and what kind of experience the website designer has. Having a portfolio with 3-5 examples of websites it’s a good sign that you’re not their first client (no problem with that if you’re on a tight budget!)

Also, browsing a portfolio helps you see if your style matches the website designer’s style. We’re all different people and we have different styles (there’s nothing wrong with that!) but it means that if you have a vision of your website that’s completely different from the website designer’s style, you could have some issues getting aligned down the road.

For example, my style it’s a minimalistic, airy, feminine one, with a precise framework for information structure that I follow. If you want a more masculine or flashy, glittery website, we’re probably not going to be a good match.

So, when you pick a website designer, make sure to see plenty of examples from their portfolio and ask yourself if you want your website to have a similar style and look. Would that make you happy? If your answer it’s no, then you should keep looking for other website designers’ style that fits you better.

What do you estimate this will cost?

One of the most important questions to ask your website designer is the cost of your website. 

If the website designer doesn’t have their pricing published on their website, make sure that before starting a website project you’re clear about your budget. This saves a lot of time for everybody. It’s not a trick for us, website designers, to charge you all of your money, but to see how your budget can fit the requirements and what you can get for that budget. Most website designers will tell you if they are way out of your price range and refer you to someone who might be a better fit.

When making an offer, the website designer takes into consideration a lot of things like the number of the pages, integrations, complex functionality, if we have to source stock photography, plugins, e-commerce, email marketing, or other third-party software integration.

Remember that the price they offer is also a reflection of their work and experience.

I’m all about price transparency and you can always check the pricing of my web design services on my website, and never have I added hidden costs to my services. Putting myself and my client in this awkward situation is not something to wish for.

You know better what your budget for website design is. Don’t be afraid to say “no”, to negotiate a lower price, or ask what you can get for your budget (if you really want to work with that website designer). You can always walk away if you don’t agree with the quote. But keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and a cheap website often has a lot of drawbacks.

And, before signing any contracts, make sure you fully understand what you’re paying for, as well as how and when you’ll pay for it.

How many revisions/rounds of edits are included?

Or “What happens if I don’t like the final design?” are basic questions to ask your website designer.

Usually, website designers offer 2-3 rounds of revision depending highly on the size of your website. In case you need more than what is included in your package, you may pay an hourly rate depending on what changes you need until your website is finished. So be sure to talk about your website designer’s hourly rate as well. Website designers’ hourly rates range from $50 to $150 per hour.

Even if you were deeply involved in the web design process, there’s a chance that something about the final design feels not right when you see it all put together. And that’s fine! You understand your website’s vision better than anyone else, and you should let the website designer know if you notice anything that needs to be changed. So it’s important to find out if and how much wiggle room you have for revisions.

It’s essential to establish feedback milestones throughout your website project so that you’ll be able to know what and when to review the website designer’s work. Regardless of their process, you should choose a website designer that gives you the option to see the website’s status and progress.

How long does it take to design a website?

Based on the size of your website, you should have different expectations for turnaround time. Make sure to add this to the list of questions to ask your website designer. This should be talked about before beginning any website design so that both the website designer and the client are on the same page. It is critical to understand that any projected timeline provided during your meeting is only an estimate, not a certainty. Unexpected events can occur at any time, slowing down the web design process. 

Search for a website designer who guarantees an open channel of communication if any setbacks occur that cause your expected launch date to be pushed back.

You must speak with the website designer if your website must be live within a specific timeframe. In addition, request a list of milestones and their expected delivery dates. Fixed milestones will allow you to track the project’s progress.

But keep in mind that even the best website designer cannot adhere to a timeline if you fail to provide feedback, deliver content and respond to questions on time. As a result, make sure you include your time restrictions in your website planning process.

A good website designer will probably need 4 – 6 weeks to complete your website from idea to launch. However, the time it will take is determined by a variety of factors, such as the number of pages on your website, what you want it to do, and how fast you can reply to their requests.

I’m a firm believer that launching your website and business online shouldn’t take months, not to mention the mental strain involving a never-ending project. My Website in a Week is the living proof that a small-sized website can be done and launched within a week. 

How will you handle the security and backups of my site?

If the answer to these questions to ask your website designer is anything other than a strong “yes,” it’s time to look for another website designer! It is critical that your website is secure to protect any sensitive data on your site and for SEO purposes. Google requires SSL certificates (HTTPS) for pages to be indexed, and any website that does not have one will be buried and/or blocked by Google. Talk about the protections that will be implemented to ensure that your new website is strong enough to defend your data and the data of your clients.

Also, if something goes wrong you don’t want to lose everything, so regular backups are critical. If your website is constantly modified, this should be at least once a week.

Maintaining a website properly entails keeping it free of glitches, cyber-attacks, and spam. Updating your site’s software and plugins, as well as securing routine backups and an SSL certificate, are all essential for ensuring long-term performance.

What is your strategy for designing my site?

This is one of the questions to ask your website designer that you shouldn’t overlook.

With so much emphasis on the general appearance of your new website, it’s easy to ignore its functionality as it relates to your goals. After all, how useful is the world’s most beautiful website if it isn’t designed to convert visitors into customers? Ask your potential website designer to show you how your new website will be optimized to generate and capture leads while going over the layout and strategy behind your proposed new website.

Be clear with the website designer about your goals and why you want to build a website. Will their design make you stand out from your competitors and how? Discuss with them which aspects of your website you are most enthusiastic about, such as increasing email list subscribers, boosting sales, receiving more client inquiries, and so on.

What happens if I need to change something later?

Or other similar questions to ask your website designer are: “Can I update things myself later?”, “Do you offer maintenance and updates?”, “How available will you be once the site is live?”

This is defined by the characteristics of your web design package. If website care is already included in the base price, your website designer will make any necessary changes for you. If not, you have two options: buy a maintenance package if one is available, or learn how to do it yourself. If you decide to do it yourself, your website designer should train you on the ins and outs of your website’s backend until you feel confident making future changes on your own.

If you want to make changes and updates on your own, make sure your website designer uses a user-friendly and simple web platform so you can own and maintain your website yourself.

Make sure you have a few questions to ask your website designer about website training sessions, too. For clients, some website designers provide 1:1 training, group workshops, and custom video tutorials.

If you prefer to delegate edits and updates rather than doing it yourself, talk with your website designer about a post-launch website care package for long-term support.

I include complimentary custom video tutorials after launch to help you understand how to self-manage and update your website.

Final thoughts on questions to ask your website designer

You want to make sure your website designer is the right fit for your business. Understanding what to expect when hiring a website designer helps ensure that everything goes smoothly.

By asking the right questions early on, you can prevent most of the biggest difficulties that lead to the failure of many web design projects. Because your website is the core of your company’s online success, having a good partnership with your website designer is essential. Before taking this key next step, it is well worth your time to research, ask relevant questions, and gather all necessary details.

I hope that now you feel more confident and you understand better what questions to ask your website designer before starting working on your website. If you’re in search of a website designer for your website, I’d love to hear from you (you already know what questions to ask me!). Send me a message with your requirements and let’s build that website!

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Affiliate Disclosure – Some blog posts and web pages within this site contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click the link then purchase a product or service from the third-party website. For instance, Elementor Pro, Siteground, and Astra Pro affiliate links. Purchasing a product or service from the links does not increase your purchase cost, but it is a great way to say ‘thanks’ to me if you enjoy my content and find my suggestions helpful. Please note that I only recommend products and services that I have personally used or have thoroughly researched. The recommendations are based on my personal experience and research. 

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