Building a new website is a project many companies take on with excitement, however, after countless hours of confusing proposals from web designers, the project can quickly turn tedious.
In order to ensure you're getting the most out of this endeavor, I've compiled a list of five important questions you need to ask when interviewing potential website designers.
1. What platform do you recommend for my business?
There's a range of different website building platforms out there, and understanding which one your designer is most skilled in is very important. More so, you need to know why they would recommend your site to be built on a specific platform.
If you work as a photographer Square Space may be best for you, whereas if you have an online store, Drupal may be the top option as it has the highest rating for multiple users at a time. WordPress works great for many CMS (Content Management Systems) needs and is usually the "go-to" platform due to its versatility.
Your site should reflect the needs of your customer, not solely the expertise of the web-designer. A web-designer must be well-versed in all the top options in order to best evaluate which one would fit the needs of your site, while also assessing what type of online experience your customers are looking for.
2. Does my package come with a responsive design?
Responsive design refers to a site providing an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet etc.) while minimizing the need to re-size words or navigations. In April, 2015, Google began to boost ratings and positions of sites that have responsive design.
In today's world, you shouldn't be charged extra for a mobile ready site. Any theme created in the last 5 years is already made with a responsive design option and all custom designs should include that in the package. Paying extra for a responsive site in 2017 is like paying extra for air-conditioning in a car after 1970. The demand ís that 100% of sites need it, therefore it shouldn't be an optional "add on".
3. Will you be using a premade template or custom building one?
This question is important because the price between the two options varies immensely. If your designer is using a pre-made template, or a "theme", it means they don't have to build the infrastructure of the site, rather they're just using modules or plugins to "fill the pieces in". If the designer's custom building the site, they're doing everything from the ground up.
There are certainly pros and cons to both. Overall, a pre-made template will cost you a lot less at the end of the day. Using a pre-made template means updates are provided by the theme designer, not your website designer, usually at no extra cost, requiring less effort from your end. If you have an employee on your team that can routinely press the update button on the site when prompted, this may be the best choice for you.
A pro to building your own custom site is that it's made exactly how you choose, so you won't feel constricted by what a theme can or cannot do. A con to building a custom site, however, is you'll likely have to pay your web designer an ongoing fee to maintain it. What if they go out of business or show a lack of responsiveness? You have to consider how a long term relationship will play out in this scenario.
4. How will the site be optimized?
The goal of your business website is to attract leads and develop them into customers. If your site's not optimized from the backend with meta data, to the front end with on page relevant keywords and call to actions, you'll likely fail on this front.
As a result of search engines now measuring on-site engagement in their rankings, you need to also ask your designer what they plan for the "user experience". Will there be a user flow plan? What actions do you anticipate the potential customer to take on each and every page and how will your site nurture their interest?
5. Who will update it and how often?
It's important to understand the ongoing expectations before you sign any contracts. If you have someone on your team that can manage the site, great, but if not, make sure to ask your website designer what type of retainer fees/programs they offer to maintain your site updates.
The last thing you want is a beautiful site and no idea how to manage it. Ask that your web-designer include an hour or two of training to learn how to maintain the site right before you go "live".