8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer
It’s hard to understate just how much the world of business websites, and the Internet at large, has changed since we began Radar Hill way back in 2001. When we started out, simply having a website of any kind was a major point of difference for a business.
Fast forward to 2022, and having a website isn’t just the norm for businesses; it’s an expectation that everyone from customers through to employees has. Not only that, but the Internet itself is a far more complex ecosystem, and that means aspects such as SSL, SEO, PPC, Schema, Google Business Profiles, Social Media Profiles, and more, are becoming essential parts of a standard package for having an online presence.
In our most recent blog, we wrote about the importance of developing a focused strategy for your marketing, instead of constantly trying to do every possible thing regardless of utility. No matter what your strategy though, your website will be the focus for it, making it a vitally important foundation no matter what your business is.
To get the most out of your website, we think it’s best to go into the process as you would a job interview or a business negotiation, by being prepared and knowing what the outcomes you want are. To help with that, here are the key questions to think about before hiring a web designer.
What knowledge of our industry will they be able to bring to the table?
In order to be able to build an effective website, you need to also be able to understand the business you’re designing for. Positioning a website so that it will appeal to customers, be in keeping with market trends, and offer the right information and content, means understanding exactly what other companies in that niche are offering, and what customers expect.
The best way of acquiring this knowledge is through experience, so looking for a company with a proven track record of designing websites in your sector can be hugely beneficial. For example, we’ve worked with hundreds of Realtors over the years and are confident in our ability to deliver on that front.
However this isn’t always possible, or desirable. Whether because you’re unable to find a company with a track record in your area, or because those that do simply aren’t of the right quality or a good fit, and that’s where the value of research comes in. A good website designer should be willing to put in the work of researching and understanding your business to tailor the website to your needs, something we always go to great lengths to do. Asking questions in these areas will help you to avoid the outcome of a cut and paste, generic feeling, or simply poorly suited website.
Are they willing to perform an audit on the existing website?
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does your new website. One potential red flag for a web designer is one that doesn’t have any interest in looking at any existing website you may already have.
Performing an audit on your existing website not only helps a designer understand your business but it can give them an idea of what you’ve been doing well, and where you need to improve. It’s an important step in developing a strategy for your new website, and one that should not be skipped.
Do they offer services beyond just building the website?
As we alluded to in our introduction, a website is the foundation of a bigger strategy, and ultimately this means it isn’t enough for the website to simply look good. Yes, it is necessary, but no matter how good your website is, if no one is visiting it, or if it doesn't match up with your business strategies, it simply won’t be effective.
That’s why it’s important to make sure your web designers have a strategy for marketing the site and a long-term vision for your online presence that will ensure your success.
What is their process?
One of the most important things you can do as a customer is to gain an understanding of exactly how the process of building your website will work. There isn’t a set approach, and things will differ greatly depending on the agency you are working with. Knowing what their process is can help to make an informed decision, and allows you to plan ahead with your business strategy.
We understand how important this is, which is why we’ve outlined our process here. And we’re always happy to answer any questions you might have.
Do they build custom sites or use templates?
There are three main sets of approaches when it comes to building a website, either a template, a customs build, or a hybrid approach, and it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting, and what the pros and cons are.
If they’re utilizing a hybrid approach, they will most likely be using a CMS such as WordPress or SquareSpace and customizing off an existing template. In these instances, be sure to ask more about why they choose a particular CMS, and some of the pros and cons, to ensure you’re getting the right approach for the needs of your website.
While a template website can work for many, it isn’t necessarily going to be the best option, as it can be restricting. A custom website is likely to be able to do many more things and have custom features, however it can cost more, so make sure the platform is within budget.
Will I have the ability to edit the website independently?
Some business owners will prefer the freedom and flexibility of being able to edit their websites themselves, but this isn’t something you can assume will always be possible. Depending on the CMS that is used to build the website, the interface and administrative functionality will differ tremendously.
Requesting a demonstration will help you better understand exactly what the website will be like to edit on the back end, and give you an idea of whether that works for you, as well as the chance to ask any questions.
On many of our websites, we give access to edit the text and add some images, but many clients do not want to be able to edit things as they don’t want to “break anything”. Consider your level of comfort with technology when deciding how necessary edits and access is. If you have a good relationship with your web designer you can always ask them to make changes.
Do they integrate or create existing marketing strategies?
As we’ve alluded to previously, your website is ultimately a digital marketing asset. And as such, it needs to be a key part of any existing or future marketing strategy, which requires a cohesive and integrated approach that not all web design companies will be able to achieve.
Not all web designers and web design companies have the requisite knowledge and experience when it comes to marketing, and working with a company that can provide an integrated strategy is a huge asset to generate the best returns for your business. To find out more about how we offer exactly that, just ask us and we’ll be happy to explain!
Do they have a portfolio or case studies available to view?
One of the most useful things you can do when it comes to choosing a web design company is to get a feel for their style and process by looking at their portfolios and case studies, which should be easily viewable on their website.
We have a large portfolio that is accessible here, with website projects ranging from recent endeavors to work from several years ago. The aim is to showcase the variety of our designs, and how each one is tailored to align with the specific needs and goals of the business.
Being able to view multiple projects like this is useful, as it allows you to get a feel for how much detail goes into different works, or if most of their websites look the same regardless of the client.
Another thing that can be incredibly useful is being able to view case studies. A business website is something that is designed to generate returns and to help you achieve business goals, and ideally you want to work with a web design company that can prove their track record in that area.
Your website is the single most visible representation of your business, and the most important part of most customer journeys in the digital age. This means working with a web design company that can produce high quality results that is suited for your goals and approach.
To find out how we can help you with that, and talk about how we can work together to find the right website for your business, get in touch with us today.