Once you decide to get a web designer, in all the excitement, do you know what questions to ask? Here is an introductory list before you get into the nitty-gritty.
This is an important one - in order for the designer to give you a price range, they need to know what you have in mind. So this is a conversation, not a simple Q & A. Tell them what you have in mind first, then the answer may be more realistic. This may be an elimination question.
If their typical website development price is $3,500.00, and your budget is $600.00, the outcome is obvious. The steep difference in price rests in the difference between coding a website from scratch, and designing a template-based website.
If the designer includes advice, guidelines, and research on your behalf, you can expect the price to be a little higher.
2) May I see examples of your work?
Great to see examples of the designer's work. Bear in mind that the actual designs reflect the tastes of the website owner who commissioned that site. Rather than looking at the superficial aspects like colours and fonts, look at the functionality on the reference websites.
3) Will the domain name and hosting be in my name?
Think of your website as a business asset - both domain name and hosting should be in your name. You own these assets. Your designer may talk you through the process and purchases - I recommend this, as it is not in your area of expertise.
4) What will you do to make my website Search Engine Friendly?
Your designer should perform basic Search Engine Optimisation for you. Their primary deliverable is the website, designed according to your specifications.
5) How long will it take to build & launch my site?
The designer should be able to give you a ball-park estimate, but it really depends on you. Typically, the cycle is Build-Review-Change-Review-Change-Launch. The designer is dependent on you to provide the initial information, then to review (often twice).
So, the longer you take, the longer they take. You do your bit, they do their bit, everybody's happy.
6) How do I make changes to my site in future?
A mistake here could be costly. Consider the type of business you run - that should be your guide for how often you're likely to require changes.
These are the primary options:
- You make basic changes through a Content Management System (CMS). How will you get training in this?
- You pay them an hourly rate whenever you want changes.
- You pay them a monthly retainer for a specific number of hours, in the event you require changes.
7) What will my annual site costs be?
A domain name and hosting fees are generally quite low, from about $60.00 per annum at the lower end of the scale, depending on your choice of host and other variables. If you choose free hosting, remember that you often get exactly what you pay for.
8) What are your payment terms - deposits, stage payments, refunds?
Always good to know up-front what the expectations are.
9) Do you have a warranty period?
Some designers offer a warranty period - if so, you need to know what it entails. It can be reassuring to know that you have recourse to your designer in the first few weeks after launch. Better to have it & not need it, than have to pay more if you need it.
10) How much do you know about my industry?
This is not an elimination question. It gives you an idea of how much information you need to give the designer, that's all.
11) What information do you need from me?
Typically, the client provides the logo, images, the written content, and a design briefing detailing the pages. Preferences on colours, styles, and layout are additional options. You can reasonably expect your designer to provide you with a Requirements document listing what you need to supply.
12) What pages do you recommend?
This depends on your business type and processes.
At the minimum, you want a Home page, About Us/Me, Contact Us/Me. What about a Product/Service page?
If you have a wide variety of products, what about a Porfolio, a Gallery, or a Slide-show?
Do you need a Blog?
Do you plan to have articles on your site? Perhaps a map?
Do you plan to embed video / audio files? YouTube videos?
13) What exactly do you deliver to me?
Obviously, your designer will deliver your website, fully launched. But you also want a backup of your website content - you have ownership and copyright of this.
Will there be any documentation? Will they do any hand-over training? Nobody likes to be dumped overnight - it's good to clarify up-front, so your expectations are clear.