When we talk to potential clients, we are often surprised to learn they’ve put off developing or updating their website because they didn’t know how to find a web designer/developer.
Whenever you are hiring a professional – no matter what the industry – it is vital to do some homework so you are informed and prepared.
Ask around. Referrals from other business owners or friends, provides you names and insight into a web designer’s work and personality.
Check out their portfolio. The best way to see the type and quality of work they do is to look at it. Ask for client references and contact them.
Interview a few designers. You need to find someone whose work you like and who you want to work with.
Questions to ask:
- What will they require from you? Do you provide content, or do they? What about pictures and other information? Understanding this up front, will prevent delays in the middle of the process.
- What is their turn-a-round time? Basic sites might only take a few weeks to produce; more complicated sites take longer. Be sure to understand deadlines and expectations you have of each other.
- What is the step-by-step plan for development and launch? A project plan should include:
- A basic free consultation before a quote is made. An onboarding questionnaire will ask you what you want for your site design and functionality. It will also ask questions about your target market. A good designer needs to know what you want before they price the work.
- An agreement outlining time expectations on all stages of development from mockups to revisions to launch.
- Outline of the testing phase. This should be done on a test server as well as the live server. It allows you to make sure everything works and functions correctly – from links to sign up forms.
- Payment deadlines should be clear.
- Will the site be easy to maintain? Working with a content management system that is easy to understand (such as WordPress) eliminates future costs of having your web designer do updates and changes for you.
- Does the quote include a “how to” update tutorial? If not, ask for one.
Some additional tips:
- Browse the web and come to your consultation with a solid idea of what type of sites you like the look of.
- Think about what you want your website to do. Do you want a brochure style site, a lead generation site, or e-Commerce?
- Buy your own domain and hosting, after consulting with your designer; some web hosting packages may not provide the software or hardware needed to run an e-Commerce web site, for example. Provide the designer with login information, but you should maintain ultimate control of the site.
- Ask questions about the process. How many revisions or mockups do you get at each stage?
Understanding the design process and working with a trusted professional web designer will produce a website that best reflects your business and brand.