5 Questions To Ask A Potential Website Designer Part 1

So you’ve decided to hire a website designer.

But how do you know who to hire?

What questions should you ask before you get started?

In a previous post we covered the questions you need to ask yourself (you can read that post here), but now it’s time to start interviewing potential designers.  We’re going to cover the five questions you need to ask before getting started,  if you have any deal breakers you could always address those in the beginning too.

First things first, check the designer’s website. If they have a thorough Frequently Asked Questions section on their website, it’s possible you can find all the information there. If not, most designers do a free consult to see if you’re a good fit. Either way it’s helpful to know all this stuff before you sign on because these are the details that can make or break a project.

We’ve focused on hiring a website designer but in our experience, these questions can apply to basically any service provider you hire for your website (like a copywriter or a brand photographer).

Question 1: What’s your timeline?

Each designer is going to have different timelines. Some people require a day or two (our intro package has a 48 hour turnaround). Other people have a turnaround of weeks (or even months depending on their current availability). It’s important to know if their timeline matches your goals before you start the project. Even if it’s as general as, I want to launch this year after I’ve finished my course, or as specific as I want to finish next week because I’m super ready to make this happen. You should find a designer that has the resources and availability to help you reach your goals.

For example we’re planning on re-launching our custom site option this summer, those generally take 3 to 4 weeks to complete. However, we’re only taking on one custom project per month. So if someone came to us in June and said they want to launch in July that would be fine if we don’t currently have a project. But if we’re in the middle of a project then we could only take the project on if the timeline is flexible.

The important part is to figure out how long it generally takes them to finish a project and what their current availability is so you’ll know if it’s going to work with your timeline.

Question 2: What’s included in the package?

There are a lot of things that go into building a website so it’s important to know up front what is and isn’t included.

For example, hosting can range from $1 a month to hundreds of dollars a month. The higher priced plans are generally for companies that need multiple websites, so figure out what you need first then you can choose the right plan. You’ll need to know if hosting is included in your package or if you’ll need to purchase it prior to starting the project.

Other things to consider are how many pages will come with the website and how many rounds of edits are included? What about the setup of plugins or software like e-mail marketing? These details are super important because if they aren’t discussed upfront you might be left assuming you get X edits while the package includes Y edits. It can lead to some awkward conversations when you’re like, “Oh I thought we would do this for as long as it takes to get it right” and your designer is like, “No that’s not how it works”.

Or worse you feel like you’ve been bait and switched because your designer tells you the package costs only $2500 (which is under budget, yay!) then you realize that it will cost another $1000 to add e-commerce, which is a must have for your site. We’re going to assume the best of people and chalk it up to a miscommunication rather than a bait and switch by the designer. That’s why it’s important to ask these questions early on and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Again we want to stress that there’s no hard and fast rules about what should be included. The takeaway is to know what IS included in the package so you’ll know if it fits your needs.

Question 3: What does it cost?

People often say web design is expensive. To that I say, “compared to what?” Ok, I can’t really take credit for that but I think it makes a lot of sense. What’s expensive to one person is really cheap for another. Someone who is used to paying $10000 to his suppliers won’t think twice about paying $5000 to set up an e-commerce website to sell his products, but a small business owner who is bootstrapping pretty much everything might get sticker shock at the same price.

The thing is, there’s no set price for how much a website should cost (or at least there isn’t one that we’ve come across in the last 8 years). If you Google WordPress website design you’ll see a whole range of prices, which really depends on the designer’s experience and the complexity of the site you’re looking for. Obviously a pre-made design will be more cost effective than a custom coded website which requires design and development work. Or someone who provides an all in one service, with a full team of design and content experts, versus a designer who designs and builds the site with content you provide.

As with anything else, it’s all based on what you’re looking for and what’s going to be a good fit for you. If you want an all in one solution, you can totally find someone to do that but it will be a higher price tag. If you’ve fallen in love with a copywriter and just need to find a website designer, you can do that too.

The bottom line is, we can’t tell you how much your website should cost. But we want to stress the importance of using price as the biggest factor. Yes, if two designers are basically evenly matched and one happens to cost less, you can easily choose the cheaper option because they will both get the job done. But if you find someone that fits all your needs but doesn’t happen to fit the budget, it might be time to reconsider what’s flexible and what isn’t, or what you can do to bump up your budget so you can get the job done right the first time.

Check back soon for Part 2 of this post!

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