The phone rings and I hear a nervous voice on the other end. “I need a website, but I’m not sure how to find the right company to build it for me. Can you help?”
I only wish more people were this honest and open!
“Absolutely! Let’s cover a few questions and answers for you.”
Here is my short list of 10 questions you should ask anyone you are considering to hire to work on your website.
Click on a question below to reveal its answer…
1. Do you have examples of live sites I can see?
You want to view the actual url of a website built by someone so you can test the functionality, the speed, the user experience. It’s not enough to just view a static portfolio. But please keep in mind, many sites get out of date due to neglect by clients, to no fault of the designer, so it’s reasonable to only ask for recent examples.
2. Do you have 3 referrals I can call?
Always nice to hear a client explain what they like and don’t like about a web pro. Ask for some context: how did they find out about the web pro, would they recommend them?
3. What is your pricing, and what exactly is (and is not) included?
This is the motherload question. You want to avoid any surprises, so I suggest removing any possibility of vagueness. You want to know EXACTLY how much this project will cost you IN RELATION TO THE SCHEDULE. Create milestones throughout the project where you can approve and confirm progress. Clarify when payments are due, if there are any out-of-pocket expenses you might incur. Most website designers do not include any out-of-pocket expenses, which might include WordPress themes, image licensing, videography, photography, plugins, hosting, domain purchase, so you’ll want to establish a small budget for these items (or confirm you won’t need them). Have them walk you through as many times as you need to feel confident and comfortable that you are getting what you are paying for.
4. How long is a project?
Make sure there is a clear end date to your project, which is when you can expect to launch your new website, have all assets in your possession and be super happy with how everything works. Make sure to include time for you to learn HOW to work your website.
5. When can you start?
Many web pros book 4-6 weeks in advance, or further. Make sure you’re clear on when they will officially be on your clock, and feel free to ask how many clients they serve at any given time.
6. Will I own all of my work product?
The answer should be yes. Confirm how and when you will receive all work product from your project.
If they are constructing your site on a testing environment, be sure to have full access to this. And, be clear on how the site will be migrated to your live site. You want to be clear that the test site is part of your work product, and you own all assets in development.
7. Will you help me learn to manage my own website?
This may depend on how much you want to learn, and how much the web pro is offering. I have 3 different levels of service, which offer different amounts of support. Take the time to schedule this at the very beginning, as often this depends on your availability and attention span.
8. After our project is complete, do you offer any support?
Be sure to find out your options, as you don’t want to expect this and find it is not available to you! However, it’s not really fair to expect the web pro to be available 24/7 after your project is complete, so a discussion can really clear that up for both parties. I provide my clients with customer service numbers for their hosting, which is a free 24/7 service that can answer most questions. I answer quick questions for free, but I charge an hourly rate for more extensive support after a project is complete.
9. Will I get logins for any accounts you create for me?
Essential for obvious reasons. You NEVER want to depend on a 3rd party to accessÂ your own content. That’s plain crazy!
10. What file types do you provide for any graphics you create?
Also essential. You’ll want to know what kind of files you should expect, especially for design graphics. If a logo was designed for you, this is especially important to know. Typical formats include PNG, JPEG, PSD, AI, PDF. Web pros often do NOT do vector formats, which are needed for signage, or posters, or physical design items. You’ll need to have a print graphic designer prepare these for you.
Bonus: What if I don't like what you do?
This is a biggie. What is built into the project with regard to revisions and draft reviews? I make sure that all DECISION MAKERS are in on every draft review. There’s nothing worse that an important party coming in at the 11th hour to say they require a significant edit. So, this discussion can help BOTH you and the web pro know what to expect for feedback and edits.
For goodness sake, make sure to always have a clear agreement in writing covering all of the points above that are important to you. Don’t be afraid to add notes to any agreement sent to you, if you feel it is incomplete.
We send anyone considering hiring our services a Questionnaire covering the above, and more, as well as a clear Agreement we go over in detail before having everyone sign. This establishes the agenda for our initial consultation and our clients tell us this is extremely helpful for them, just in general, to figure out what their needs, preferences and priorities are.
Good luck to you! Let us know if you’d like us to send you a Questionnaire and you can see for yourself!