10 Questions to ask before you hire a web designer

1. Do you like their body of work?

First, you should look at their previous work. If somebodies portfolio is just so-so in your eyes then cross them off the list. Look at whether they’ve previously made sites that are similar to what you need. Is their portfolio diverse? You probably want a developer who has made a wide range of sites, rather than doing the exact same thing for every client, so that your site is uniquely designed for your needs. 

2.  Do you want a freelancer or an agency?

There are benefits to both. Freelancers are often cheaper than agencies as their overheads are usually lower. You’ll be working with the same person the whole time which means you often have more involvement in the creative process, which may mean reaching the overall design that you love quicker. However, it does of course mean you’re relying on one person. Using an agency may mean you’re dealing with lots of different people. This can be both positive and negative – there will always be someone able to help, but you may find it frustrating relaying information to multiple people. Much more complex websites are sometimes better off with an agency as they have specific people who specializes in each area. Or get the best of both and look for a small agency – like us!

3. What’s their timeline?

If you’ve got a launch date in mind, you’ll want to make sure your designer has space to fit you in. Of course, unexpected issues can happen and not all deadlines can be met. But they should be able to give you an approximate timeline for the completed site.

4. What platform are they building the website on?

There are many different ways to build a website. A site can be built completely with code or a CMS (content management system) platform can be used. Personally, I recommend self-hosted WordPress, as it will allow you to more easily update and edit the site yourself. A static site that doesn’t use a CMS (content management system) can make it much harder for you to manage later. Regardless of how they build it and on what platform they should be able to explain it to you in order for you to make the best decision for your business. 

5. Who will be looking after the website when it’s complete?

You’ll usually have the option of maintaining the site yourself or allowing your developer to do it for you. If they’re doing it for you, you need to ask how much is that going to cost and what you will get for your money? If you’re maintaining it yourself will they teach you how to manage it? 

6. Do they provide hosting?

If a developer doesn’t include basic Search Engine Optimisation, run. It’s so important to use a developer who includes basic SEO, as a lot of SEO comes from the foundations of your site, and to go back through and optimize the site later can be very cumbersome. Some things that should be included in every website: Tags, Permalink Structure, Image Descriptions, Mobile Optimised.

7. Do they include Search Engine Optimisation?

If a developer doesn’t include basic Search Engine Optimisation, run. It’s so important to use a developer who includes basic SEO, as a lot of SEO comes from the foundations of your site, and to go back through and optimize the site later can be very cumbersome. Some things that should be included in every website: Tags, Permalink Structure, Image Descriptions, Mobile Optimised.

8. Can they code?

Ok, this may seem very basic – shouldn’t all developers have an understanding of code? In fact, nowadays you can build websites without touching a single bit of code. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it can often make it easier for you to make changes to your own site. However, it’s usually best if your developer has a decent understanding code (in particular HTML, CSS, PHP, and Javascript) in order to be able to customize and make the site exactly as you want it. 

9. Will they take care of the security of the site?

You should look at whether your web developer’s own site uses SSL. If it does, it will have a ‘This site is secure’ message or a little padlock in the browser bar. If they don’t have SSL on their own site I’d be wary of their credentials, as SSL is essential for all websites. Additionally, you want to make sure they will add an SSL certificate to your site as well!

10. Finally, do you like them?

Ultimately you’ll likely be spending a lot of time perfecting your website, so you make sure you get on well with your developer!