Every now and then we get a client that comes to us with a history of abuse – telling us their heart-breaking malpractice stories. They’ve worked with a web designer in the past that misled them in some way or delivered such an unprofessional experience, that they don’t know who to trust or how to prevent the same thing from happening again.
This kind of thing seems to happen all too often in our industry, making it that much more difficult for those of us that carefully manage our process and our client’s satisfaction. So we’d like to offer a list of questions that small businesses can ask when interviewing their prospective web designers so that they don’t get burned.
1. How Long Have You Been in Business?
Seems simple enough, right? But the fact is, web design is a serious business that involves creative prowess, project management skills, technical expertise, and some serious customer service. Designers that are not seasoned, may not know how to deal with the unpredictable parts of the process, and if they decide that it’s more work than they realized, they may bail on you.
2. Are You a Designer AND a Developer?
There are some designers who only design, meaning that they do not construct the web files. So, make sure that you are paying for design AND development.
3. Will I be Able to Make Revisions to the Site on my Own?
Many clients want a site that they will be able to modify on their own. For example, they may want to use seasonal coupon codes, or add and remove employees, or update their home page with news and events. If this is the type of site you want, make sure the designer is planning on building that type of site (a content-managed site).
4. Do You have Experience with Content Managed Sites?
Content-managed sites are built differently than static sites and require a specialized knowledge base. (A static site is a site that cannot be modified by the client). You do not want to hire a designer to build a content managed site, such as a WordPress or Joomla site if they have little or no experience using these platforms.
5. How does the Process Work?
A professional, responsible web designer will be able to tell you exactly how the process will begin, move forward, and complete. You will know exactly what you will receive and what you are responsible for providing.
6. How Long will the Process Take?
If you have a deadline by which you need your site to be live, let your designer know and make sure they will be able to meet that deadline.
7. Can I See your Portfolio?
It is an absolute MUST that you review a designer’s portfolio. See what type of work they usually produce an what types of clients they have. Are you a good fit?
8. Call Their Clients.
This one isn’t a question, but getting a referral is a great way to insure yourself and learn more about what it’s like to work with the designer.
9. Are You my Nephew?
If your prospective web designer is your nephew, uncle, or a friend that “knows how to use the computer really well,” you might be going down the wrong path. Your website is your most powerful marketing tool. Professional web designers bring an enormous amount of knowledge and talent to the table. Their expertise all but guarantees you a successful website that will communicate your brand appropriately and help you achieve your on-line goals. Can your nephew do that?
10. How will you Optimize my Site?
Optimization refers to Search Engine Optimization. This is a series of practices taken during the construction of your site and in some part, after the site is live, that makes sure your site communicates the content of your website effectively to the search engines. This process is necessary to help the right customers find your website and set you apart from your competition.