Many years ago I was a website designer/developer. Nowadays, I leave the website designing to other folks, but when I read Jane Friedman’s blog post about what to look for in a web designer I knew I had share with you. Her questions are spot on.
My advice: pay special attention to #6.
1. How long have you been designing websites?Read the rest of Jane's article here: How to Hire the Right Website Designer
If someone has been creating websites for awhile, there’s a good chance that they will be around for the long haul. Being in business a long time is not enough to prove they’re competent and reliable, but it’s a start.
2. Can I see your portfolio?
Looking at someone’s portfolio can provide you with a lot of information. You should be looking for a few things.
- Do you like their design style? It’s important that you like their style, because the design they do for you will probably have a similar style.3. Are you primarily a designer, programmer, or both?
- Do their sites function well?
- Are their sites easy to get around? Is there a lot of clutter, or is it clear how to find what you’re looking for?
Some people can create a beautiful design as well as expertly code your site. But most people excel at one or the other. In some cases, you only need one set of skills. Make sure your web designer has whatever skills are needed to get the job done right.
4. Can we meet and talk (virtually or in person)?
Creating a website is a joint effort between you and the designer. You will be having a lot of conversations over the course of the project, and it’s important that you can communicate well with each other and that you are comfortable with their communication style. The only way to get a sense of that is to have a conversation.
5. Will we sign a contract?
Verbal agreements are not enough. You should receive written documentation that spells out the scope of the project. You should know exactly what you’re getting and how much it’s going to cost. This protects both you and the web designer, and is essential for preventing misunderstandings. If the designer is billing by the hour, you should be given an estimate along with some agreement as to what happens if the process takes longer than the estimate.
6. How are website updates handled?
It used to be that you had to hire your website designer to update your site for even the smallest changes, unless it was built with an expensive proprietary content management system. A content management system, or CMS, allows you to update your site without knowing any code or programming languages. These days there are a number of free systems that nearly anyone can use without special knowledge, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Of these systems, WordPress is the easiest to use. If you want to update your site yourself, ask your website designer if they use WordPress or another content management system.
7. Who owns my site after it’s completed and paid for?
You should have full ownership of your website. Make sure you get all of your login information so that if somewhere down the line your website designer is no longer in business, you have access to your site.
Some companies build their websites with proprietary software. This may work well while you are hosted with them, but you will not be able to move your site anywhere else, since it needs the proprietary software to run.
WordPress is a very popular platform, so I recommend using it if at all possible. If you want to move your site or change website designers, you’ll have no trouble finding someone else who can take over.