There reaches a stage in many web site owner’s lives where their web design skill set is not at the level they need to fulfill their vision. As a frustrated web designer myself (i.e. I enjoy coding but I have zero eye for design) I have often thought about paying some one else to set up a site for me to get the ball rolling. But with every man and his uncle claiming to be able to design a website, what questions should you be asking a prospective designer; be it a friend, someone recommended to you or someone who advertises their services?
“Have you any examples of previous work and what was your contribution to that project?”
Never take anyone on blind, and nail them down as to what they actually did on that site. For big projects they may simply have added a new logo or added some code, but they put the entire site in their portfolio.
“Will you provide a content management system so I can add new content myself easily?”
You do not want to be in a position where every time you need to make the smallest change to your web site’s copy you have to contact them, and probably be charged for the change. Make sure they empower you through the addition of a content management system such as WordPress.
“Will you set up the web hosting account and register the domain name in my name and address?”
This is a massive point and one you must ask. We get a lot of issues at 123-reg where a designer has bought the hosting and registered the domain using their own details and further down the line the site ‘owner’ finds out they in fact are not the legal owner, the designer is.
“Will you give me all the source files?”
A web page is made up of multiple components and source files, e.g. logo, picture, CSS file(s), HTML, PHP etc which in a couple of years you may want to edit or change completely. If you don’t have the files that make up your site and don’t want to use the same designer again, you’ll have to start from scratch!
“What on-site SEO techniques will you employ?”
These are the elements of the website the site owner can influence to increase their search engine rankings. I would expect a good response to cover the <title> and <h> tags, keyword frequency in the opening paragraph, the page’s URLs structure and keyword usage, the use of a site map so site can be crawled easily, and their approach to the internal link structure.
“Can I see drafts before you begin coding?”
First and foremost you have to like the site and feel comfortable it represents what you are trying to achieve. Make sure you get input at each stage in the direction the site is going, or if that is a bit grand for the amount of money you are paying, give the designer clear direction at the start.
“Will you add site analytics for me?”
Get the designer to add free Google Analytics tracking in to your site (using an account you own!) so you can monitor visits to your site etc. If they try to charge you mention its simply copying and pasting code and its a free service from Google.
Those are the questions that spring to mind for me, if you have any others you would recommend leave a comment below.