Not everyone is multi-skilled. You may be a very good writer but have no idea where to start when it comes to designing a website. So what do you do when you need a new online presence? The chances are you’re going to end up paying someone to design your site and release the headache, but how do you know if that designer is any good? Even if it’s a friend or someone who was recommended to you, that doesn’t mean he’s got the skills you need. With everyone on the web putting “Photoshop expert” or “coding guru” on their CVs, what questions should you be asking a prospective web designer to determine if he’s up to the job?
“Can you show me some examples of previous work and how you contributed to each project?”
People like to embellish their achievements so they are more likely to get work. Because of this it’s important to never take someone’s word for it. Instead, ask to see exactly what they did on each site included in their portfolio. A designer might include a huge project in their web design portfolio but how do you know that he hasn’t just spruced up a logo? It’s better to ask for details to be sure.
“Can you provide a content management system so I can add content whenever I need to?”
It would be a hassle to contact your designer every time you need to make even the smallest change to the content on your site. It’s not only the fact that you can easily do it yourself, but you’ll probably have to pay for the extra “work” the designer will have to do each time. So, make sure you will be able to make any changes you need when you need them. This can be done by asking the designer to give you access to a content management system such as WordPress or Joomla or any other one you feel comfortable working with.
“Can you set up the web hosting account and register the domain name in my name?”
This is a question you must ask to avoid huge problems later on. If your designer buys the hosting and domain name in his name that makes him the legal owner, not you. Instead of having to change the account details later on, it’s better to have all accounts in your name right from the start. It can avoid a lot of problems, especially if the relationship between you and the designer sours later on.
“Can I have all the source files?”
A website includes a lot of files, including but not limited to images, logo, CSS files, PHP and HTML. You may want or need to edit these files further down the line and this could present a problem if you don’t have them. If you contact the designer to hand them over a year after the site was built, he may no longer have them, or he might just refuse to hand them over. You’ll be forced to start from scratch and it’ll be an expensive hassle. You can avoid all that by making sure he’s willing to pass on the files before work has even started.
“Which on-site SEO techniques will you be using?”
SEO elements can help your site rank higher on search engines, so you know they’re extremely important. These need to include the and tags, keyword optimization, the web page’s URL structure, internal linking structure as well as a site map so search engines can crawl the site easily. The best designers will make sure the site is SEO friendly.
“Will I be allowed to see drafts before you begin coding?”
Before coding the site, you may want to review early drafts to see if it’s exactly you how expected it to look or if there’s anything you’d like to change. Give clear instructions to the designer every step of the way to avoid any misunderstanding. That way, you’re more likely to get exactly what you want.
“Can you add Google Analytics for me?”
Ask the designer to add the Google Analytics tracking code to your site and make sure it’s connected to your account. This will allow you to monitor the traffic to your site as well as other important stats. It’s a simple copy and paste job so he shouldn’t be charging you for this.
These are some basic questions to ask any web designer before you commission them to start building a site for you. But remember, it always pays to shop around. Get a few quotes before committing to anything and then pick the one that best meets your needs. Remember, picking the wrong person for the job could cost you thousands in the long-run.