The answer is simple. Do your homework. Ask plenty of questions and take notes. There are tons of people who claim to be experienced in web design, but will they be around in a few months when you need updates for your website? Remember that your web designer is your business partner in a sense. Make sure you get a designer who makes your business a priority.
So, what questions should you ask?
Here are some of the most important considerations to help you choose the right web designer from the start and avoid having to make costly and time consuming changes later.
- How much web design experience do you have?
This is a big deal. You want someone who has done a lot of websites and knows what to do to help you be successful online. See if your designer has created websites similar to yours. Do they specialize in small businesses or large corporations? Do they offer the features you are looking for?
I’ve been building websites for over 20 years for small businesses in Gainesville, Florida, and nationwide. Get a free quote to see if we are a match for working together.
- Do you have a good portfolio?
Good web design speaks for itself. Look through a designer’s work to see if it matches the kind of style you are looking for. They should have a variety of sites they have done for real clients.
Check out my portfolio to see what I can build for you.
- Do you have references and reviews?
Legitimate web designers have several good reviews that are posted on a directory site such as Google or Yelp. You can also ask your designer for a list of references you can call to see if they were happy with their website and the service they received. Is your designer prompt? Personable? Affordable? Responsive to inquiries?
You can see my 5-star reviews on Google.
- What are your prices?
Pricing is important, but remember that you get what you pay for. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you get a quote in writing that includes everything. Ask if there are any hidden costs, and always read the fine print.
Hint: A freelance web designer usually charges less, because they don’t have a big overhead. I’ve been an independent designer for over two decades now, and I’m able to keep my prices reasonable for small businesses on a budget.
Quotes should be free, and usually, your first consultation is free, too. Get a free quote for your website project now.
- Do you do SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
These days not all web designers will do off-site SEO, because web marketing has become a very specialized field in its own right. However, your designer should be able to do on-page SEO to make sure that you get listed correctly on Google and other search engines. On-page SEO involves placing keyword phrases in your content that help people who are searching for what you offer.
I’ve been doing SEO since I started doing web design over 20 years ago. It has evolved a lot since then, but the basic concepts are the same, and I make sure my websites are optimized to help people find you.
- What is your process for building websites?
Is your web designer mostly a programmer who writes code and builds sites? Or do they actually have design experience? You can usually tell from their portfolio if they have an eye for design and can make the site look professional and appealing.
I personally design website graphics and use WordPress for building out the site structure. WordPress is a popular and powerful website platform that allows you to make changes to your own site easily by just logging into a simple editor online. About 1 in 4 websites worldwide use WordPress.
- How long will it take to design my site?
The time estimate should be spelled out in the proposal. It shouldn’t take more than 2 to 3 weeks for most small to medium sites, but timing depends on how quickly you can get content to your web designer and how much work they have right now. Make sure they have time to get your site done in a timely manner.
Most of my sites take 7 to 10 business days, or about two weeks total. But remember that you need to allow time to email back and forth to give feedback and approvals.
- Do you maintain my website if I need changes and updates?
If your web designer doesn’t offer maintenance on your site, you might want to keep looking. Designers should be able to help you with any updates you need as you go along.
I maintain only websites that I create, so I am dedicated to helping my clients keep their content fresh.
- Do you offer web hosting?
Your web designer should either offer hosting for your website or work closely with a web hosting company. A web host is a provider that stores your website on their servers so that it is available 24/7.
I am a hosting reseller, and I personally maintain the websites on my server block for my clients. Clients pay me directly for web hosting, so they don’t need to deal with another company. Web hosting and a dot-com domain name are included with the design price. Hosting needs to be renewed annually and the current pricing is only $120 for the entire year for business class hosting services.
I hope this list of questions helps you find the right web designer for your needs. Remember that doing your homework now will save you time and money in the future.
Sharon Julien has over 20 years of experience creating websites for small businesses in Gainesville, Florida, and nationwide. If you would like to explore working together, get a free quote for your website project.