Looking for a Web Designer? Ask these questions!

Looking for a web designer may be a daunting task for the small business owner.  This web designer will be the one that will be showcasing your business and personal reputation online for everyone in the world to see.

You want to make sure you get a professional designer but at a fair and reasonable price, while meeting the expectations and requirements you may have.

Before questions can be asked, you first have to find several reputable company’s. Make sure to check out our (Finding a Reputable Web Design Firm for Small Businesses).

Questions to Ask the Potential Web Designer

Once you have narrowed it done to three web firms in mind, setup up a meeting time for either a conference call or face to face meeting and have the following questions ready.  Experienced and well-rounded web firms should offer the answers to most of these without even asking during introduction and providing information about their company.

  1. How long have you been in business and producing web designs for small businesses?

    1. This will help weed out those single kid startup firms that will only use you as a test bed to fine tune their skill, potentially harming your online presence in the process.
  2. Do you have any professional schooling and certificates related to web and graphic design?

    1. Experience and their portfolio page will help with showcasing their qualifications, but there should still official schooling completed as there is a lot of standards and correct flow of how websites work and ultimately should be built to adhere to the standards of the world wide web.
  3. How do you calculate the cost of websites, per hour or package price?

    1. Developing a website is like building a complex house, it really depends on what your needs are.  For folks that have been doing web design for a long time will offer different pricing packages up front that can generally meet the needs of many small business online presence requirements.  Others may use the per hour rule to guesstimate the amount of hours needed.
  4. What search engine / internet marketing Is offered as standard and if additional advanced SEO services if offered?

    1. Most design firms will add your site to major search engines and should assure the website code meets the SEO guidelines so your new website don’t get penalized by the major search engines like Google or Bing once published.   If they also offer SEO Strategy services like we do, it’s always a plus as one they understand it and can answer any questions you may have, and two you can go the next step to help market / promote your website without starting all over in finding a web design firm that provides reputable SEO / internet marketing services.
  5. Do you provide and manage the website hosting?

    1. It’s a huge plus if your potential web designer is knowledgeable and provides the hosting of your website. (Just make sure it’s not a requirement)  If you host with your web designer and issues arise with hosting, you already have the relationship with the web designer.  Otherwise you are forced to work through and handle all technical details with a 3rd party hosting system and support.  There is generally annual fees for this service.
  6. Is their web maintenance and or security plans offered?

    1. Website Maintenance and security plans are important services now a days to not only assure the website stays up to date, but the website continues to perform well and stays secure in the years to come without any unexpected costs.  If no maintenance services are offered then you really don’t know what to budget for as unexpected issues with the website can occur.  There is generally annual fees for this service.
  7. Is the website built with proprietary system or is open source products used?

    1. This is extremely important to know. Some firms use proprietary systems, which means if things are just not working out between you and the web firm, you can’t take your website with you if you chose to leave.  You want a web design firm to use open source products to design and construct your website (html, css, java, WordPress Content Management System (CMS), Joomla CMS etc..).  This way you own the website and no licenses or ownership is tied to the website designer company.  Northwoods Web Designs uses open source products and you, the client will own your website after its developed.
  8. How long will the website design take?

    1. This depends on the size of the website and you require but it’s worth asking how long in general the design process will take.  Many factors do determine the time scale, and remember that you have some obligations along the way, so any delays on your part may hold up the design process.  But generally a 5 page basic information website should take around 2-4 weeks. You can view our 4 steps to success Website Design Process here.

In summary, we based many of these question around our own experience here at Northwoods Web Designs.  Many of these questions we openly provide as we found many small to medium sized businesses not sure what to ask.  Knowing what to ask often provides value and a better understanding regarding the web design process. Not to mention it builds a better working relationship.
Are there any questions missed that we should add?

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