Ok, so you have a business or a business idea, and are considering hiring a web designer to design and develop your website – congratulations!
If you already have a website made with WIX web builder or another free platform then you might feel like you need more than what they offer. If you don’t have a website yet, then, understandably, you might feel a little overwhelmed about where to start!
Important Things You Should Consider Before Hiring A Web Designer
When you hire a web designer for the first time, there are general steps that your web designer will take. He or she will ask you some questions about your business and what you can expect from the outcome.
Before you approach a web designer, it’s good to lay out a general plan. This will help avoid misunderstandings and also ensure that your designer has a clear idea of your website desires.
Below are just some ideas on what you should be thinking about prior to hiring a web designer to build a website that is right for you and your business.
Understand The Purpose Of Your Website
What do you want people to do when they land on your website? What is your main goal? Below are some examples:
- Sell products that people can purchase online
- Provide people information and get them to sign up on your mailing list
- Showcase your portfolio with the intent of getting people to hire you
- Post informative articles and grow your blog audience
What Do You Like Or Dislike About Your Current Website?
Unless you are starting from scratch, you will need to consider what things you want to change about your current website. Are you using a website builder like WIX or a free platform such as Blogger and WordPress.com?
Is it difficult for you to add the features you need? Do you want it to look professional and unique to your business but can’t due to the restrictions of the platform you are using?
You should list the pros and cons of your current website. Your web designer will want to know what your likes/dislikes, and what you would like to change.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Similar to many businesses you should research into who is your target audience. The online market is a very competitive place. Your website will need to appeal to your viewers otherwise they simply wouldn’t use it and move on to a competitor.
Consider their demographics, consumption habits, age-range and their lifestyle choices. The more you know about your audience, the better you can plan and get a feeling for the appearance and layout of your website.
What Specific Features Do You Want On Your Website?
Think about what call to action feature you want when your customer lands on your website. If you run a beauty salon, for example, you would want your visitor to see your work, opening hours and also an appointment/booking form.
Other possibilities would be to include a chat feature, photo galleries, a responsive website, or even a multi-lingual website design. Always make it clear to your web designer on the outset to avoid late additions that could cost you time and money.
Who Are Your Main Competitors?
As a business owner, knowing your competitors’ USP (unique selling point) will help you understand why they are successful at what they do.
Take notes and think about what you can do better. What do you think grabs their customers attention? It’s all about the little details that make their website stand out, do they have great reviews, high-quality images or do they have great customer service?
By learning how your competitors’ website differs from yours, you can then ask your website designer to do the same.
Which Websites Do You Like/Don’t Like And Why?
What kind of websites stand out to you, why do you like them? By giving your web designer some examples of websites that you like and don’t like, you will give them a good idea about what kind of style you’re looking for.
A good web designer knows what works and what doesn’t but they also want to know what to avoid. It’s better for them to know so that they can deliver something that you will like!
What Keywords Would You Like To Focus On
A competent web designer creates its clients’ websites to comply with the latest SEO standards.
Your designer should at least introduce you to terms like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and Keyword Research. This is to ensure your website performs when it is online and attracts the visitors you are hoping for so that they will flock to your site.
Think a little about what you would enter into Google if you were searching for your particular products or services. Spend a little time on this and I am sure you will be surprised what terms or ‘keywords’ you will come up with.
Your web designer should want to know these from the start as they will work to include them in the content of your website so that when your customers are searching, they will hopefully see you in the search results and visit your page.
Some website designers will help you asses the state of your current website (if you have one) in terms of how you rank in your niche.
It’s will also help if you can provide your web developer with your Google Analytics report so that they can analyse how visitors are interacting with your website. Don’t worry, if this is your first website, your designer will be able to integrate Google Analytics so that you can track your visitors’ activity once your website is live.
Decide On How Many Pages You Require
Deciding how many pages you want on your website is an important factor of your website layout.
While your designer will guide you through the best way to layout your web pages, it’s good to have an idea of how they can work together.
Think about the journey your visitor will take on your website. Consider these important points:
- Where do you want them to go from your homepage?
- Where do you want them to go next?
- Can they easily find routes to the content they most likely will want to see?
- What do you think they will look for and provide them with an answer.
- Will you need a search facility so visitors can search for the content they are looking for if you are planning on a large site.
Where Will You Get Your Resources?
Be aware of copyright laws! Searching on Google for an image or media that relates to your business is not a good idea. Images and media that are used on your website should be owned by yourself otherwise you will be infringing certain rights granted to the person who owns that image or media.
A good web designer will be able to either source, point you to the right resources, or create graphics exclusively for your business. Examples below:
Ongoing Maintenance And Future Website Changes
Once your website goes live, you should not consider that as the end of your relationship with your designer. Being online requires maintenance to your site, like keeping a car in good shape, your designer should explain to support services they can provide after your site goes live.
Your web designer will likely suggest a monthly or annual fee so they take the responsibility off your shoulders to make sure your website continues to run smoothly. These services typically include:
It’s critical the software that powers your website is kept up to date and any updates to packages are applied quickly and frequently. This is to prevent intruders/hackers obtaining access to your site and either defacing or even destroying your content.
So you have an idea on the design, but you also need that special name or URL for your site, e.g. www.yourspecialthing.com that makes you unique in the land of 1’s and 0’s. Your designer should discuss potential names with you and help source the perfect domain name for your business. Domain names do expire after time if you are not careful but your designer will ensure this never happens and keeps on top of renewals for you.
SSL renewal and installation
SSL(or TLS)/HTTPS ensures your visitor’s connections to your site are secure, encrypted and free from prying eyes. This also goes to instil trust in your visitors and goes a long way to make that casual browser a converting customer. These are security certificates that have to be purchased, configured and installed, usually every year. Again your designer will perform this for you.
Do You Intend To Handle Your Own Digital Marketing?
Even though the website is finished, work should not stop to drive your potential customers to your site otherwise your site becomes stale. Your search engine rankings will drop and visitors will go to your competitors instead.
A good web designer will question and advise you on the subject of digital marketing. Do you plan to do it alone, perhaps you have your own team, or would you need assistance in any of the following marketing methods:
- Content marketing
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and link building
- Social network management and social media
- Email list management
Pay Some Consideration To Your Budget
Most web designers will ask you what your budget is for a project. No, it’s not because they are trying to pull a fast one or trying to find out how much money you have so they can simply take what they can.
Your web designer simply wants to know how much you are willing to invest so that they can estimate the scale of work that can be achieved within your means.
Your budget will determine what kind of features your website can have. For example, lower budgets typically mean that you may not be able to have the highest quality custom designed illustrations or highest resolution images, and only are looking for a few basic pages. Whereas with higher budgets perhaps you are looking for the top video content and interactive features throughout the site providing a richer experience to your visitors.
If your budget is small, your designer could suggest alternatives to what can be included.
Hiring a designer to create good design work for your business should be an easy process. A professional web design company or designer should guide you through all the steps mentioned above. If they don’t, then question whether that’s a good choice and look around.
A little foreknowledge and preparation will help you identify what it is you are really looking for and better yet, help a designer understand exactly what it is you want saving you time and of course, money.
Set up a good time to chat on the phone, Skype or better yet, in person. Ensure you run through your ideas from top to bottom to make sure that you both have a good understanding of the project. This is a good time for your designer to address any questions or potential problems. More importantly, this also allows you to build a good working relationship!
I am a web designer, graphic artist & illustrator in Valencia, Spain. I am also the creative director for Tucanoo Solutions Ltd, a software development company specialising in legal, financial and healthcare applications.