So you’re finally ready to design – or redesign – your website. It seems like a big decision. And you don’t know where to start.
Here are some questions you can ask to to find the right person to create your website, aka your online portal that represents your business to the world.
1. How do you find a web person?
Answer (a): ask around. Ask your colleagues or network contacts who they would recommend for web design. Be sure to ask them why they’d recommend this person.
Answer (b): browse the web for sites you like in your industry. When you find sites you like the look and feel of, contact the business and ask who designed their site.
Once you’ve collected a list of 3-5 web designers, check out their website, and their portfolio. Ask yourself, do all of the client sites in their portfolio look the same? That’s a red flag. You want your website to stand out, so it needs to be unique and branded to your business, not the same as everyone else’s.
After reviewing the portfolios, decide which designs you like best and contact those web persons to schedule a phone call or in-person meeting to get acquainted. Think of it like an interview.
If you’re planning to hand over your hard-earned money, you want to make sure you’re working with someone you can trust and whose work you actually like (or better yet, love).
2. What’s the best way to work with a web designer?
It’s important to understand a web designer’s process before you hire them and determine if it matches your needs. For example, you might ask:
- how long will it take them to design your site?
- will they present you with several design layouts to choose from, or do you just get one?
- will you have input on the site, and what is their feedback cycle?
- do they offer copywriting or editing services?
- how and how often will they communicate with you about the progress of your site design?
- do they know anything about your business, or your industry (or have they even asked)?
- how can they be reached if you have questions (or haven’t heard from them)?
- will they provide you with your site login/s when it’s finished? (this answer should be yes)
I can’t tell you how many unfortunate stories I’ve heard from clients when they hired someone previously to design their site.
That person gladly took their money, then disappeared, or reappeared 4 months later and hadn’t even started designing their site. Worse yet, the person did design their site but didn’t listen to what the client wanted, and the client hated their new site and had to start over.
You have the right to ask as many questions as you like, in order to get the answers you need to feel confident in making a decision.
3. What’s the most important factor in hiring a web designer?
The two most important aspects to consider when hiring a web designer are their design skills and communication. As mentioned above, make sure you like what’s in someone’s portfolio before you hire them. Don’t just choose a web person because they’re in your weekly networking group. Review their work and make sure it’s in alignment with what you want before you decide to hand over your money.
Communication is a biggie. Pay attention to this one. At your initial meeting, does the web person listen to what your needs are, and take notes? If you feel dismissed or ignored, don’t hire them. They way they communicate with you at your first meeting will show you how they’ll communicate with you throughout the process of designing your site. It’s not too much to ask to be heard and acknowledged.
Rest assured, there are web designers out there who care and will listen, will advise you and deliver a site that is perfect for your business. Sometimes it just takes a couple of tries to find the right one. Be persistent. Take the time to meet with several designers until you find the one whose the perfect match.
4. What do they specialize in?
Not all web persons are made alike. Some specialize in branding, some copywriting, others SEO, user experience, back end coding, or search engine advertising or graphic design. Many of these folks are decent web designers. A few may be great designers. Understand what their strengths are and how those strengths will help you create a strong online presence that helps you grow your business.
If you don’t understand what the above things are, ask the web designer to explain it. The good ones will take the time to walk you through it. That being said, if you’re not a technology-oriented person, re-read #3 above and use those factors as the criteria to help you choose a designer.
5. How much will they charge to design your site?
This is always a tricky question. The answer is, it depends. It depends on the simplicity or complexity of your site. Think of it like buying a car. There’s the base model, or the model with all the options, bells and whistles.
A website can be simply informational, or it could have a long list of additional requirements, with such add-ons as online forms, landing pages, appointment scheduling, online payment, a web store, etc.
The requirements you specify at your intake meeting with the designer will determine how much it will cost to design the site. Go into that meeting knowing what elements you want on your site, so the design parameters are clear from the get-go.
You’re probably still waiting for me to tell you a number, huh? It still depends. I’ll give you a general answer. A solid, professionally-designed website built by someone in the USA may start at a couple thousand dollars. This is normal, and reasonable for the value. If the person offers copywriting, editing or graphic design services, knows your industry well, and takes the time to understand your business, these are added bonuses. If the cost is outside your immediate budget, ask the designer if they offer a payment plan, or trim your requirements for the site.
So… your neighbor’s son said he could design you a site for $300, right? Has he ever designed a website before? Be clear on what you want your site to do, and ask if he can deliver. If he has a girlfriend or is leaving for college soon, think about who will be managing your site once it’s up. Will you make your own text changes? Who has the logins? Who will manage the back end software updates so your site isn’t vulnerable to hackers? All good questions, so you will know if he can fulfill your expectations (or not) before you hire him.
And like many things these days, it is possible to have a site designed overseas for cheap(er). But when you pay a small price for something, you usually get what you pay for. When you hire a designer overseas, not only do you face time zone and language barriers, but keep in mind you are outsourcing.
If it’s important to you to support American jobs, align your money with your values. Consider paying a little more to support an American small businesses and keep your hard-earned money working in our economy at home. The quality and value you’ll receive in return will be well worth your investment.
images: ornithology.com, dreamstime.com, wmtrading.com.br