Yeah, I know, the title was a little dramatic but for good reason.
Gone are the days when a person needed to study how to code a website from scratch.
Instead, thanks to the dozens of do-it-yourself website builders out there today, anyone can sign up, create a few practice sites and then decide to go into business for themselves as a “web designer”.
The reality is, there’s a lot more to creating a successful website than that.
So before you hand over your hard-earned cash, you need to be certain that you and your web guy/gal know what they’re doing and that they’re a good fit for you and your business.
Below, you’ll find 16 questions that you should ask in an interview before deciding to hire them.
Question 1: Have you any experience in creating websites for my industry?
Every business is different and so it’s important that your designer has some first-hand experience in your industry.
At the very least, they should be willing to put in some hard research into not only your competitors but also your target audience.
They’ll need a good grasp of what makes your potential customers tick in order to give them a great user experience that makes them want to pick up the phone.
Question 2: How much will the site cost?
It’s impossible to say as it depends on a plethora of things such as where you’re located, the industry you’re in, and the complexity of the site.
My best guess would be a couple of hundred dollars to 1,000+.
Again, this depends on if you want a simple 1-page online brochure, or you’re looking for more functionality such as the ability to take bookings online or be able to sell products on your site.
The designer’s experience will also play a big part in the price.
Question 3: Can you show me examples of similar sites?
Once you’ve received an estimate that you’re happy with, ask the designer if they can show you examples of other sites that they’ve built in the same price range.
You’ll probably notice a few similarities between them and it’s crucial that you’re happy with the quality and functionality of these examples before proceeding.
Question 4: What will be required from me?
Many business owners don’t like the idea of making their own site and think they can simply pass off the whole thing to a web designer and not have to think about it again.
As you’re about to find out, that’s not quite how it works.
You’ll need to be involved in the initial planning stages, provide your business details, possibly some written content, images, and you’ll be expected to provide feedback at various stages of the process.
That’s why it’s important to understand what’s required from you so you know exactly what to expect.
Question 5: Are the ongoing costs such as hosting, changes, and updates?
What if three months down the line you change your business address or you add another service to your offering?
Will your web designer make these changes for free or will there be a charge?
On top of that, are there any additional costs that will be billed monthly or annually for things like your website address (domain name) or hosting account?
Be clear on this so you don’t receive any expensive surprises further down the line.
Question 6: Can I update the site myself? If so, is there training?
If your designer is willing to make all future changes for free (which I doubt) then great.
If not, ask if they can show you the back end of your site and teach you how to edit things like text and images so you can do it on the fly.
Question 7: Who actually owns the site?
Personally, if I was going to ask someone to build my site for me then I’d want to be sure the domain name and hosting account were registered in my name, not to mention ownership of the website itself.
Should the company disappear one day, I’d want to be safe in the knowledge that I had full control and ownership of my site which will likely turn into a very valuable asset to your business.
If this isn’t the case, I’d think twice about hiring them in the first place.
Question 8: What if I don’t like the finished design?
The chances of the site being perfect after the initial draft are pretty slim.
Maybe you won’t like how the text is laid out, the position of an image, or maybe you won’t like anything at all.
Find out beforehand how many revisions you’ll be allowed for free before they begin charging you extra.
Some companies offer unlimited revisions until the client is happy which is fantastic.
The key here is being as involved as much as possible in the initial planning stages. It stands to reason that the more input you have early on, the fewer revisions will be needed later.
Question 9: Will the site be mobile friendly?
More people are turning to their phones each day to research and buy stuff online.
This is especially true if you have a local business as around 90% of searches for local services happen on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.
If your website isn’t going to be mobile-friendly or “responsive” then in my humble opinion, it’s not worth having it built in the first place.
I’d go and find someone else who can offer you this.
Question 10: Will my website be search engine friendly?
I’d like to be clear about this as it often causes a lot of confusion.
Just because you have a website, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be on the first page of Google where people will be able to find you.
It is the job of a web designer to make sure that your website is “search engine friendly” in the sense that it is coded properly and easy for the search engines like Google to read so they can understand what your website is about.
It is not their responsibility to get you onto the first page of Google as this requires ongoing marketing efforts.
They may offer you this as an ongoing service but if not, you may have to pay someone else to help you or learn how to do it yourself.
Question 11: What if my site is hacked or breaks?
I know first hand that things can and do go wrong occasionally so should this happen to you, is the designer willing to jump in and fix it for free or will there be an additional charge?
Whilst you there, ask what security measures are in place to prevent hackers breaking into your site.
The last thing you want is someone hacking in and getting hold of your private data or worse still, your client’s details.
It might be worth paying a small monthly fee for this type of stuff because even if you never need it, it’ll probably help you sleep a little easier at night.
Question 12: Do you do the work in-house or outsource?
I’ve heard of many companies charging a client a certain price to build a website and then simply outsourcing some, or all of the work overseas for cheaper and then taking the difference as a profit.
Is there anything wrong with that?
Well, that’s debatable and the only thing that really matters is the end result.
Personally, I’d prefer the work to be done in-house but it’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
Question 13: How long will it realistically take to complete the site?
Will it take a week, a month, or longer to build your site?
The time it takes will again depend on the scope of the project.
It’s always a good idea to get an idea of a timeframe but be warned, if you’re slow to respond to feedback requests, sending over details or content, then the time it takes to complete your site will obviously increase.
Question 14: Can I see references from previous clients?
Call me cynical, but sometimes I wonder if all of those glowing testimonials you see over company websites are entirely true.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that your designer is dishonest but having said that, I’d prefer to see references from previous clients.
I’d be inclined to contact one or two of them to find out if they were happy with their experience and the finished product.
Question 15: Will I be assigned a dedicated project manager?
Regardless of whether the work will be done in-house or outsourced, I’d like to have a dedicated project manager that I could pick up the phone to at any point of the process and ask questions or request changes.
This way, they’ll already know your details and you won’t just be passed to whoever in the office is free at the time.
If your web designer’s a “one man band” then this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about.
Question 16: Do you offer ongoing marketing services?
I mentioned earlier that it’s the job of your designer to build your website but they aren’t responsible for getting you to the top of Google.
This is a whole different area of expertise altogether.
This can be achieved in a variety of ways depending on your business type.
Just because it isn’t their job, it doesn’t mean that they won’t offer these services as many designers definitely will.
These types of marketing services can easily run into several hundred dollars each month and will depend on the value of your average client and how competitive your industry is.
Talk to your web designer and see what they suggest.
Now, May I Ask you a Question?
You’ll have a much easier time finding the right web designer if you go into the interview armed with these questions but just before you do….
Have you considered making your own website?
Website builders these days make it a fairly painless process and by doing it yourself, you’ll maintain full control and keep most of your advertising budget safely in your pocket.
Sure, there’s a learning curve involved, but if you have the time I think you’ll find it a very rewarding and dare I say it, enjoyable experience.
You can learn more about building your own website with my free beginner’s guide.
It’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step.
Do you have any questions about the questions above, or have you already met with a web designer but unsure about what exactly is being offered?
If so, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll do my very best to help you out.