Being in an industry with a low barrier to entry like web design has its pros and cons. On one hand, capital requirements and overhead have always been very affordable for us. On the other hand, it seems like just about any yay-hoo with a laptop and a copy of Adobe Photoshop tries to compete with us.
Unfortunately for us, many of these “competitors” compensate for their lack of experience with really low prices that are unsustainable (even for them), which leads to a general devaluation of our service offering. Unfortunately for you the business owner, the same lack of experience by novice web designers leads to websites that are low in quality, low in ROI and high in frustration.
Therefore, I present to you 5 questions to ask when hiring a web designer:
- Do you understand why I need a website?
I’m routinely amazed at how often this question doesn’t even come up. At Skyhook, knowing why we’re building a website is the most important thing we can take away from a client strategy workshop. Once your web designer understands the business objectives, they can start acting like an agency and suggest strategies and tactics that are in line with what you’re trying to accomplish. Occasionally, this means they will push back on your bad ideas — but that’s okay, you WANT that!
- Can I see your visual portfolio?
Do a quick check to ensure that your customers will dig the web designer’s visual style. Every designer has a visual signature, which needs to align with your brand. Notice that I said your customers. It’s not nearly as important that you like your website as it is that your customers respond to it (positively, with their wallets).
- What process do you use to test your websites?
One of the easiest ways for a web designer to skimp is in browser testing. A website needs to look good on a wide variety of browsers and operating systems, not just the one you or your web designer is using. It takes extra time to test thoroughly, but doing things right the first time avoids discovering headaches and landmines down the road.
- How much experience do you have in the industry? Have you worked on a site like mine before?
HTML and CSS aren’t difficult languages to grasp on a basic level, but it literally takes years to master them. How many websites has your web developer built? It’s not AS important that they have built a website in your industry before, but it helps.
- What support do you offer after my website is built?
Is your website’s code going to be held hostage after it is built? Will your web designer be responsive to make changes when you need them? Will you have the tools to make simple changes yourself? Most importantly, will your web designer continue to act like a true partner by notifying you when your website needs updating, improving or expansion?
There are obviously a lot of other questions that are important to ask, especially if you’re planning to treat your web developer like a long-term partner (as you should).
What has your experience been in hiring a web designer? Chime in below.