If you own your own business, you are probably used to doing everything yourself: making large and small decisions for your business on a daily basis. The last thing you may want to do is rely on someone else to handle your website and online assets. However, there are important questions that you should be asking your Web Designer before hiring them to build your website because you will be relying on an important part of your business - your online presence.
The answer to the following questions will help you determine who you can trust and who has the experience and skills to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes you may have a gut feeling, but it’s always wise to know what you should be asking your Web Designer before hiring them.
Can I See Your Portfolio?
Asking to see the work that they have done to date is common and expected. Web Designers have a wide range of skills. Some are better at design and some are better at development. Think about what you are looking for and if it matches the skills of the Web Designer you are thinking of hiring.
Also take a look in their portfolio to see if there is a project similar to what you are looking for. This can help in the planning process and you can request that they use a previous project as inspiration for a new website.
Will I Be Able to Update The Site?
Determining who will be updating the website is something that needs to be established early on. It's important for your Web Designer to set the expectation and offer options on who will be the one that makes changes to the website going forward when information needs to be changed or updated. Will you and your Web Designer both take part in updating the site or will it be left up to one person?
A lot of this depends on the platform being used. If you use are using a WYSIWG page builder, then most likely you will be able to update the site on your own. If your Web Designer uses a content management system like WordPress, then most likely you will not be able to make all the changes on your own unless you are knowledgeable on how to use WordPress or your web designer sits with you for a lesson on how to edit the site.
Who Is Going To Provide The Content?
If the content is going to be provided from your Web Designer and they are grabbing photos off the internet, you want to make sure that he or she has the copyrights for those images because ultimately you are responsible for what goes on your website. The last thing any small business owner needs when they are getting started is a lawsuit about copyrights.
Will I Officially Own The Site?
If your Web Designer buys your domain for you in their ow account with their own information, you technically do not own your domain. You then have a serious problem at this point because you will not have control of your website, even though you can login to your WordPress site. If you decide to part ways with your Web Designer or Web Developer, then the issue of domain ownership comes up. Your contractor will have to initiate a domain transfer to move the domain to your own account. I have seen what a headache this can be. Make sure you clarify with your Web Designer who will own the domain and to get this in writing.
Can I See The Website Before It Goes Live?
This is actually really important - that you are able to see your website before it will be live to the world. You want to make sure that all the information is accurate, that there are no spelling errors, and that everything makes sense. Your Web Designer should be checking this, but you need to be able to tell your Web Designer if there is any mistakes that need to be fixed.
Once something is published on the internet, there is a record of it there forever. If Google crawls your site and the content is incorrect or doesn’t position you the way that you want it to, there is a potential that you will not appear for the searches that you want to appear for. It’s really important that you get to see a draft of your website before it gets published.
How Will People Find Me On Google?
This is a great question - just because a website is built, does not mean that people will find it. Make sure your Web Designer can clearly answer this question for you and that you fully understand what is required in order to get found online. Getting found on Google is a complex process and an important conversation to have in order to clarify your expectations.
Do You Have References?
It’s important that your Web Designer is open to providing contact info to previous clients. Previous clients can provide a lot of insight into a contractor’s work ethics, response time, and how satisfied they were overall with the project. You can also look up your web designer or web agency's profile on directory sites like Design Rush's Atlanta Digital Agencies directory.
I hope this can give you some insight on what you should as a Web Designer before hiring them. It's important that there is an understanding of who is responsible for the different aspects of creating a website. Web development should be a collaborate process and the most successful websites are ones that generate leads and act as a 24/7 sales tool.