12 Vital Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

When you begin looking for a web designer, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You go to the internet and see dozens of firms promising to deliver the best results, and the more tabs you open, the more confused you get. Rest assured, we’ve got you covered with our list of 12 vital questions to ask before hiring a web designer.

Don’t worry. Hiring a designer doesn’t have to be an arduous and stressful task. And if you go about it the right way, you can take steps to ensure the end product will be worth it. It all comes down to knowing what questions to ask a web designer before hiring them.

Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Web Designer

1.  Do you have experience in my industry and with similar sites?

While you don’t have to hire an agency with experience in your field, it certainly gives you an advantage. To design a successful site, a designer needs insight into your business model and brand identity. If they work in your field, you’ve already got a head start on the first, which saves you time on the second.

It also means you’re not going in blind because now you can go straight to their portfolio to get an accurate idea of what they have to offer. If you’re unsure of what to expect from a website designer, look at their past projects and customer reviews. If these aren’t prominently displayed on a company’s site, that’s a red flag.

A designer with similar experience will know what works in terms of content, site architecture, and functionality. This is valuable insight, especially for complex projects like ecommerce sites where requirements include an online store, product catalogue, and payment options. That said, an agency with a variety of projects under its belt can bring innovative ideas to the table, so what you really need is a mixture of both.

2.  Can you explain your web design and development process?

One of the first questions to ask a web designer in an interview. The best way to figure out “what” a designer can deliver is by having them explain “how” they intend to do it. While all designers will claim they are the best, most fall flat when faced with the actual task of breaking down their process.

As part of this step, some of the points they should cover include:

  • what research they do before starting the project
  • strategies they intend to use and how these will impact your business
  • who will be working on your project and what their qualifications are
  • how many drafts and revisions they include as well as their feedback process

This open-ended question gives a designer the chance to volunteer information about themselves. You can follow up by asking specific questions to cover whatever points they miss.

Pro tip: Designers who are misrepresenting themselves will often use technical terms to confuse you.

3.  What information do you need from me?

To build a personalised and profitable site, a designer needs active contribution from their client. In the initial stages, this can mean information on how your business works, who your target audience is, branding guidelines, and other design assets like content, pictures, etc. The faster you can compile this material, the sooner they can begin designing your site. 

A candid discussion early on helps ensure you’re both on the same page. For example, let the designer know if you cannot provide high-resolution graphics for your site and need them to source images for you, the same for content and logo design. Blindsiding the designer with additional deliverables once the project starts will upset their process, the timeline and the budget.

Conducting field and competitor research is standard practice at Web Design Depot and helps us develop a comprehensive branding strategy for your site. Our basic package includes on-page SEO services, marketing-focused content, and logo design, with the option to add off-page SEO services.

4.  What CMS do you intend to use?

The content management system is the foundation of your site’s design because it affects how the interface works on the back end. While there are numerous CMS options, most design agencies will have a preference.

Which CMS they use greatly affects how your site functions and the ease with which you can update content after its launch. Is it customisable and intuitive? Does it support long-term growth? Knowing why a firm uses a specific CMS platform can help you decide which agency to choose.

At Web Design Depot, we use WordPress to build our sites. A CMS popular because of its wide range of plugins and user-friendliness. That means you can easily adapt your site to meet your long-term business needs. When you’re building a website making sure it’s scalable is a critical consideration. Additionally, WordPress is open source, so our team can adapt the backend code to fit your needs.

5. What steps do you take for hosting, security and maintenance?

No CMS is perfect, and with a little research, you can find the pros and cons for each. The biggest disadvantage of using WordPress is that its open-source code makes it an easy target for hackers. Hence, security is a priority. At Web Design Depot, daily malware scans are a part of our maintenance and care policies. We also offer clients the option to add high-security measures like a Website Application Firewall.

Other good questions to ask a web developer include policies for CMS updates. Find out whether the agency offers regular or consistent updates and full-site backups. Asking these questions outright is important because many designers lack the skill and training to integrate CMS updates with existing plugins and often run into software compatibility concerns.

You also need to decide on a hosting provider, of which there are endless options to choose from. You can choose to outsource this task or let your design agency handle it internally. Web Design Depot clients face neither issue since regular CMS updates are part of our maintenance and care plans. We also offer hosting services. Our team of experts is well equipped to handle these backend concerns with ease.

6.  Are your site designs responsive?

Responsive design refers to websites that aren’t just accessible but optimised to function perfectly on all devices, whether desktop, mobile, tablet, or otherwise. Recent statistics show that more than 50 percent of sales and 64 percent of retail traffic comes from mobile users. And if you want your site to rank high in the search engines, Google policies make building a responsive site design non-negotiable.

So, when it comes to what to know before hiring a web designer, this question tops the list. You want a site that loads quickly and never lags, with a mobile interface that is twice as good as the laptop version. That is why at Web Design Depot, we design from a mobile-first approach and ensure all our sites are responsive.

7.  Can you provide an estimated timeline and cost analysis?

Estimated Timeline

Both the estimated finishing date and cost for a project depend on the type of site you require. This includes the complexity of design, plugins, features, security settings, etc. So only ask this question after discussing all other relevant details about the project with your designer. Once you’re done, ask for a comprehensive list of everything included in the final price.

However, if you have a budget, you should let the designer know earlier to help you pick features accordingly. For example, if you have a low ceiling, adding extra features like a Firewall will push you past your limit.

8.  What level of communication can I expect?

An open channel of communication is the key to a successful site design. If you’re hiring a design agency, find out who you will be speaking to, how often they will contact you, and where you can reach them. Also, inquire if they have a set process for feedback, discussion, and revisions.

How often a designer shares drafts will vary. Most agencies will set an upper limit to the number of revisions, usually three. Typically, the designer will discuss ideas with you in detail before the project starts. Then they will show you a mockup wireframe with a rough layout. At this point, you can give feedback to adapt the final design. Once the site is complete, you’ll get a second chance to review it before it’s up and running.

At Web Design Depot, we believe in adapting our process to fit the customer’s needs. We let you set the pace. You can decide how often you want updates and discuss a schedule with your designer. Some clients are more hands on with their site, while others only want to see the final design. Either way, we encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas.

9.  How do you include SEO in your design?

As anyone in the content creation business knows SEO has changed drastically over the past few years. Once, you could get your site on the first page of Google by meeting specific technical requirements, but now your only path to high rankings is engaging original content. That means finding out what your audience wants and serving it to them on a silver platter with a careful sprinkling of well-placed keywords.

Search engine optimisation may be the key to creating a high ranking site. But, it’s about more than simply creating original content. SEO should never be an afterthought. A credible designer will know to include SEO strategies from the beginning of the site-building process, whether it’s image optimisation, keyword research, alt tagging, or device responsiveness. Any missteps in the design process can cause your site to tank.

At Web Design Depot, we offer all of our clients content creation services and on-page SEO as part of their site design. If you want additional off-page SEO services, all you need to do is inform your designer, and they will add it to your package.

10. What other services do you offer?

If you go to a designer and ask for the bare minimum, they’ll give you a five-page layout with:

  • Home
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact details

This will include graphic design, an intuitive layout with typography, and your choice of colour palette. Then they’ll add some basic SEO, maintenance, and security. Beyond the basics, different web designers will also offer additional services.

These can include logo design, video, and sound editing, graphics, or copywriting. Find out what features an agency offers and see what fits within your budget. You’ll also want landing pages like a custom 404 page, a privacy policy, a cookie policy, and terms and conditions so be sure to find out if these are included in your bill.

11. Do you outsource tasks or rely on an in-house team?

Any agency may list certain services on their site, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their team has the skilled workers to complete them. This is especially true for the additional services listed earlier. After all, building a website requires a team with various experts, from marketing strategists and content writers to photographers and graphics designers.

While outsourcing isn’t always a bad thing, you should find out what parts of your project the designer intends to outsource, if any. Then ask for information on the third-party vendors that will be working on your site. Outsourcing is only helpful if it doesn’t add to the expense or timeline of your project.

12. What support do you offer after the site is launched?

A website isn’t a one-time expense. As your business grows and your customers increase, you’ll need to make changes to your site. Even routine updates require a certain amount of assistance. So, you should definitely ask your designer if they provide long-term support.

We understand how stressful running a website can be for a new site owner. That is why Web Design Depot offers support for a significant period after the site is launched. This gives you time to learn the ropes. And while this facility ends after a certain period, you can always contact your designer and ask for continued support if needs be.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer – Conclusion

When you hire a designer to build a website, you’re paying for a product you haven’t seen, which means it’s essential that you verify their credentials thoroughly. Take your time asking your designer all the questions on this list. And only decide once you’re completely satisfied with their answers. Also, make sure you know exactly what services your budget is covering.