I don’t know about you, but hiring someone to do something for me always makes me a little bit nervous. I never know if I’m asking all the right questions or if this person is really the right fit for me. I find that people tend to get this way about hiring me as well! So I wrote down a few things that I think people should ask me before hiring me on to design a site or logo for them. Typically, when these questions are answered up front, the process is much smoother and free of confusion!
“What are the services you offer?”
Some web designers just offer design. Some offer design and development (the actual building and launch of the site). Some offer content creation and logo design, too. It’s important to know what your options are when shopping around. It’s more convenient to hire one person or company to cover the entire project so you don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. Some designers offer packages so you can save money the more services you sign on for.
You’ll also want to make sure you know whether you’re getting a custom or template design. A theme can be used to accomplish both. Is hosting included? Will they maintain your site after launch? Find out what services are available and which are included, that way you don’t assume you’re getting a service that you aren’t actually getting.
“Can you do all of what I need?”
You may just need 5 pages. You may need an e-commerce shop. You may need a complex application forum-like structure. Maybe you need them to write the content for you or to design graphic elements. Communicate to the potential designer all of what you will need in the end. Not only does this ensure that they are capable of these things, but your pricing will be more accurate. Don’t assume that just because you’re getting a website, it automatically comes with any and all functionalities you can think of.
RED FLAG! If the designer you’re working with seems like they can do absolutely everything under the sun, that may be suspicious. It’s common for designers to subcontract out work to others, which is fine. But if that’s the case, they should be up front and honest about their process. If they offer every single service you ask for and promise you results or traffic, they may not be telling you the whole truth about how they operate.
“Have you worked with companies like me before?”
This question is a little tricky. Your new designer may have never built a restaurant website. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t. Someone who has built 50 restaurant websites may still not be the best fit for you. However, knowing if they have worked within your industry before may mean there would be less to explain about your niche and the designer may reach your goals more easily. Take a look at their past work and see how well they have accomplished your goals with other clients. If they have worked with a business like yours, they may have a better grasp on your target market, which can result in a better performing site.
“How do you base your pricing?”
Some designers have packages where the size of the site determines pricing. Some designers work hourly. Some work page-by-page. Some will build an estimate in a completely different way altogether. Make sure you ask your designers how your quote will be built. This way you have an understanding of the value of the work you’re getting. You’ll also know roughly how much you’d pay if you needed more work in the future.
Asking about pricing is also an opportunity to see how dedicated the designer will be. The best designers will ask you a ton of questions before building your quote so that they can only price you for the work they know you want. Be wary of designers who promise a $200-page website, no strings. A specific and itemized bid is the best kind of bid. Otherwise, you leave yourself vulnerable for add-on services later and more money than you bargained for.
“What do you need from me?”
Some web designers need you to provide the content and images used on the site. Some need you to provide the font files or the theme. Some include all of that! So that there are no misunderstandings, make sure you know up front what you will need to be doing to help move the project along. A good designer will tell you this, but it’s best to get as much information up front. If you’re not comfortable writing content or you know you won’t have the time to browse and choose images, make sure that your designer will include it in the scope of the project before signing on with them.
RED FLAG! If the designers says they need nothing frmo you … maybe reconsider. Your business website is a very personal thing. The designer should need something from you, even if it’s just a call or two or a questionnaire answered in order to really understand who you are and what you need out of your site.
“How much control do I have over the site when it’s finished?”
Your designer should be willing to train you on how to update your site in the future. Take advantage of any training or education that is included. Also, make sure that you will have full and unrestricted access to your website in the end. (This should be in the contract you sign!) Some designers offer a plan where you “rent” the site as long as you continuously pay. If that’s what you’re agreeing to, that’s fine! But if that’s not what you want, make sure you get:
- Training on how to edit site content
- Training on how to update the site’s plugins, themes, etc.
- An administrator or high-level access to the site and it’s hosting account
“How many revisions do I get?”
As you work on your project with the designer, you should be able to offer revisions, suggestions, and changes to the site. In my web design projects, I offer 2 sets of revisions at 3 different points in the process. That means my clients have 9 total opportunities to revise their site. This ensures that they are always pleased with the end product. Your designer should offer plenty of opportunities for you to not only view the site before launch but offer up suggestions on how to improve. Design is very subjective, so they cannot be expected to get it exactly right the first time! Some designers offer unlimited revisions, some only offer a few.
“What if I’m unhappy with the design?”
Even if you do get to revise the design now and again, you may never reach a full understanding and you may hate the design. Do you get revisions until you like it? Is there a certain point where you can cancel and get a refund? Make sure you ask your designer what their process is for a design that you won’t want to use. It’s not uncommon for designers to refuse full refunds – what if you do like it, but say you don’t, get your money back, and use the site anyway?
RED FLAG! Understand that designers have to protect their work and their time, but they should give you time to back out if you don’t like their work after a certain period of time. There should be a cut-off point where you can cancel the project without owing more money. But don’t be surprised if there is a point of no return where refunds are not accepted.
“What will I own vs. what will you own?”
Ownership of a website is tricky. “You paid for it, so you own it” seems like the easy answer. But the design is the intellectual property of the designer unless they sign that over to you in a contract. If they have paid licensing fees for your theme or any plugins, that part of the site belongs to them. It’s best to clarify with the designer who will own what in the end.