Top 12 Questions to Ask a Web Designer
Top 12 Questions to Ask a Web Designer
So you’re looking to hire a web designer. If you’re like most people, you have been asking, “What should I ask before choosing who to go with?”
Before you hire a web designer, you need to ask a few simple questions. Maybe you’re thinking, “Mackenly, I don’t know what any of these mean.” No worries, we’re going to go over them in detail so that you are not taken advantage of.
First, let’s go over what a web designer does and the average cost to hire a web designer.
Web designers are part graphic designers, part copywriters, and part developers. Most web designers tend to be stronger in one or the other of those three essential skills but should be able to do good work in them all. Where it gets tricky is how much it costs. The word Web Designer is used by people that do as much as code sites completely by hand, all the way to people who do as little as signing up for a cheap DIY builder. If your website isn't done right it could mean that it doesn’t follow modern standards and actually hurts your brand. Between those two skill levels are prices ranging from $50 on a site like Fiverr to millions of dollars at the world’s top design agencies.
- $50 – Get’s you a website from a template. Hopefully your business name is spelled right. You get what you pay for.
- $500 – You can get a decent site at this range but don’t expect much. At this price point, you’re probably better off building it yourself and using a template with a DIY builder tool.
- $5,000 – Most intermediate to expert web designers fall in this range depending on the complexity of the site. Most web designers at this point are one-person businesses that are significantly stronger in one of the three essential skills but should have a working knowledge of it all.
- $50,000+ – You’re getting into the big leagues now. At this point, you can expect top quality in design, performance, and branding. Most agencies in this range will have multiple people working on your project and will not only make a great site but develop a strong strategy behind it.
So now that we know what to expect as far as pricing goes, let’s get into the important questions you need to ask during negotiations.
What Do You Use To Build Sites?
Most Pros will say WordPress or WebFlow. Run from anyone who says Wix, Squarespace, or GoDaddy. If someone says they code it by hand, be sure to review their portfolio. While custom code can be great, it will probably require technical knowledge to update.
Will I Be Able To Make Updates Myself?
It’s fairly easy to make basic changes in a site built with a good content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Webflow. However, note that some sites are better-built custom coded which might not allow you to make updates yourself. Some web designers will even offer a discounted retainer agreement to make changes for you.
How Will The Site Be Hosted?
This is a big deal. Most web designers will give you two options: they will install the website on your hosting account or host it for you in exchange for a reoccurring contract. Your web host plays a crucial role in your website performance, therefore, also in your bounce and conversion rates. (That’s marketing lingo for your website, not helping you make money.)
Are You A Developer?
Do You Out Source Any Of The Work?
This can be a red flag. A lot of people in the less than $5k range outsource their work often to overseas freelancers. If you're paying a middleman, know that you're not going to get what you paid for.
How Many Revisions Do I Get?
A fairly common industry standard is 3. If you, as the client, go over 3 don’t be offended when your web designer sends you an extra bill. Nobody works for free, but it’s important to establish expectations and what is allowed before any money exchanges. More on that next.
Do I Need To Sign A Contract?
Yes! If the web designer doesn’t ask you to that’s one of the biggest red flags there can be. Contracts don’t have to be hard to understand or full of things only lawyers can read. A contract is just a written agreement between two or more parties that outlines expectations and consequences.
There are plenty of free-to-use web design contract templates out there, so budget is no excuse. However, it’s always wise to have a lawyer review your contracts to make sure nothing is hidden in there.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Contracts are essential to establish expectations and define the scope of the engagement. Without a good contract, you could easily have copyright and other legal issues.
Will I Have To Pay Upfront?
More than likely, yes. It may even be considered a red flag if you’re not required to pay some upfront. The industry standard is 50% before work starts and 50% after deliverables are delivered. I probably wouldn’t pay 100% upfront so that you do have some security, but that’s where contracts come into play.
Will I Get The Source Files?
Probably. Some people would consider this a major red flag if the designer doesn’t include them, but it really depends on your contract and how the IP is distributed. Just make it clear if you want them because some designers may give you a lower rate if they don’t have to provide the source. The reason being is that if a designer uses something from a 3rd party tool to speed up or optimize their workflow, it is usually licensed differently for source files than if they are the only ones with access. It may even be impossible to license it in a way that they can give it to you. If you trust your designer and/or have strong contracts in place, you don’t really have to have the source.
Do You Include SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major contributor to your site’s success. However, not all designers are skilled in it. It’s very important to find out if your designer does SEO, and if so, what do they include in SEO? SEO, like the word web designer, can mean different things to different people, so it’s best to lay out your expectations clearly.
The problem with SEO is that it’s not an exact science. What works today might not work next year, so it’s not a do it once and forget about it kind of thing. It’s hard to measure success right away, and it often takes a long time for results to start showing up, so it’s one of those things that you have to be in for the long haul.
The best SEO strategy centers around following the guidelines for making HTML code SEO-friendly and creating web pages with good content. Google and other search engines want users to find what they're looking for. If you cover the basics and provide quality content, your site will get traffic.
Do You Use Presets Or Templates?
Some cheaper web designers will just download a template, fill in your information, and be done. The problem with that isn’t that your site won’t look good but that it won’t match your brand or be unique. The last thing you want is for someone to mistake your site for your competitor’s.
Do You Offer Ongoing Maintenance And Hosting?
This is kinda a big deal too. Some designers offer ongoing maintenance and hosting retainers which tend to be a smart option for you to take as a non-web-designer client. If you are hosting it yourself, you have to deal with the issues that arise and may have to pay to get someone to come in and fix them. If you have an ongoing maintenance and hosting contract with your designer, they take care of it. Pretty sweet, right?
Whew, that was a lot. Do you feel like a web design expert now? I hope so!
Now that you’re ready to start asking the right questions, you need to find someone to ask them to. We can help with that! We (Tricities Media Group) specialize in crafting modern and engaging websites engineered from the ground up to boost sales and conversions for your brand.
Updated October 2, 2022
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Jones, Mackenly."Top 12 Questions to Ask a Web Designer." Tricities Media Group, 2 Oct 2022, https://tricitiesmediagroup.com/posts/top-12-questions-to-ask-a-web-designer. Accessed 13 Feb. 2024.
Cite this post in MLA
Jones, M. (2022, Oct 2) Top 12 Questions to Ask a Web Designer. Tricities Media Group. https://tricitiesmediagroup.com/posts/top-12-questions-to-ask-a-web-designer