Much of your choice of designers depends on whether you want to work locally with someone, or whether you are willing to work remotely with them over the phone. Here are some things to think and ask about when hiring a website designer:
- Pay attention to how much they ask you about YOUR BUSINESS. They should want to get to know you and your business intimately. How else can they design a site that reflects you, your brand, and your business, unless they spend time to get to know you?
- Look at sites they’ve designed to see if you like their style. Is there a certain feel to ALL their sites, or are they flexible in their designs? Do sites adjust to fit the devices used?
- Ask them if they did the actual graphic and layout design of the site, or if they just did the programming.
- If they don’t do the graphic work themselves, can they recommend a graphic artist?
- Do they have a structured, systematic planning process that leads you through the design phase, and will they document all the discussions and decisions? If they have a Website Planning Guide that you’ll work through together, that’s really helpful.
- Ask them what they know about internet marketing and search engine optimization. Be sure that they’re creating a site for you that meets your larger marketing and business goals. (A pretty site is no good to you unless it generates revenue and prospects.)
- Ask the designer for their fees and what is the estimated cost for the site you want. They may not be able to give you a good estimate until you discuss content and features of the site. Expect to pay between TT$750 – $1000 per page, depending on the required content and complexity of functionality. A quality website with good graphic design and layout will cost around TT$5,500 – $7,500 for a simple business website. If you add a blog, newsletter, shopping cart, autoresponders, email address setup, SEO, membership site, or logo design (or if you have many pages on your site), expect the price to be higher. Most designers request a Confirmation Fee of approximately 40 – 50% of the overall cost, to begin the project.
- Ask them how they bill you. Will they invoice you monthly, or when certain milestones are reached? Do you have to make deposits?
- Pay attention to whether they’ll try to stick within your budget, or whether they keep suggesting new add-ons which could increase to the cost of your site. Remember, designers aren’t responsible for your budget — you are.
- Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was. You want someone who has good project management skills AND good communication skills. They have to listen to you, not just give advice. And they have to get back to you in a timely manner with phone calls and emails.
- Ask them whether they will maintain your site after the initial design, and how much they’ll charge for that. Some designers want to create new sites but don’t want to maintain them. Someone like a virtual assistant (VA) may be able to maintain your site for a lower hourly fee, as long as the VA is skilled in website programming. Find out what types of programming are used in your site, so you can find someone to help you update it.
- If you’re going to maintain the site yourself, ask them if they’ll design your site so that it is easily maintained by a business owner. You can have your site designed on a blog/CMS platform, like WordPress, which will allow you to edit the text and some of the graphics.
- Make sure that your contract states that you own the copyright to the entire website (except, of course, for stock photos and graphic…the original photographer/artist owns the copyright to stock images). All content, including graphics that you hired someone to custom-create for you, and all the coding work, should be owned by you.
- Make sure you own your domain name, even if the website designer registered it for you.
- You have got to enjoy talking and working with them. Do you LIKE the designer? Do you believe they’ll act ethically? Do you enjoy speaking with them? Do they stay focused to the task at hand, or do they ramble and waste your time? Do you feel you “click” with their personality and values? Do they offer you invaluable insight and advice about your site design?
- Tell each prospective website designer what your deadline is and ask if they can meet it. Many good website designers are already booked for the next 4-6 weeks, so you may have to wait for the designer of your choice. If you don’t have a specific deadline, brainstorm with the designer to create a good working deadline that you can both meet, especially if you will be doing the job of writing the website text.
Your website is crucial to the success of your business. By doing extensive interviewing of potential website designers, you’re more likely to pick one that can do the work you want, is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business, and keeps within your budget and timeframe.
AffiDesigns is really skilled at working with humble budgets and staying on point with deadlines and bottom-lines! If you’d like to talk with us about your website design planning and process, please contact us.