Your website is a big deal. It’s the online storefront for your brand, and it’s often one of the main digital representations of your business.

With so much importance, it’s only natural to want to work with someone that is professional, knowledgeable, and an expert in the field. There are a lot of website designers out there, and it can be overwhelming trying to find the right one. Do your research, take your time, read reviews, and schedule an in-person consultation.

Before hiring someone, take some time to put together questions. Here are key questions that you should ask any potential web designer before signing on the dotted line.

What experience do you have designing websites?

Find out how long they have been working on websites and the types of projects they’ve completed in the past. This will give you an idea of their skill level, years of experience, and expertise.

Do you have an estimated time frame for my web design?

The number of pages, amount of content, and other design elements can affect the timeline for projects. Depending on your website size, a quality website may take several months to complete. Your communication with your website designer during the process will also affect the time frame.

A variety of factors go into estimating how long a project will take, but digital marketing and website builders can usually provide an estimate based on similar projects they’ve completed in the past. If you have a launch date in mind, be sure to share that date before you start the project. Web design companies can help you determine whether that date is realistic or attainable. Quality takes time, but you’ll also want to be able to meet your goal.

Who do I contact during the process?

Make sure the designer or agency is straightforward about who your contact person will be.

Does an automated operator answer when you call? Are you able to talk with a real person when you need to? Ask about different forms of contact (email, phone, online chatbox, etc.) and which is best to use. You don’t want the frustration of trying to get ahold of someone and not being able to, especially after you’ve made a significant investment.

Do you have a portfolio or samples of your work?

Portfolios are a great way to look at past web design projects. You’ll be able to view actual work done by the web designer and determine whether their style is the right fit for you. Look through the various projects and notate elements you like about the sites. If many of the projects look the same, it may be safe to assume that the web designer uses a template of some kind.

It’s also important to keep in mind that websites are customizable. Companies that offer custom designs create websites that are designed for the company and their customers. You may not be drawn to the design that particular customer chose, but that doesn’t mean every website looks like that. Look through at least five previous projects to get a feel for the design capabilities.

Will you build a custom site?

We mentioned templates in the previous answer, but we’d like to expand a little more on what that means.

Some web designers work with pre-made or reusable templates to design client websites. While there isn’t anything wrong with using a template, they usually aren’t completely customizable for your needs. Custom elements or programs within your website will require custom programming. Looking through a portfolio can sometimes provide an insight into whether custom designs are available, but it’s best to ask your designer to confirm.

What kind of research do you do when building a website?

Hours of time and research go into building a website. Your current website, business goals, mission, customer relations, industry evaluations, and competitor profiles are all examples of research that can be used to design a site. Ask how initial research is conducted, and provide any colors, ideas, or designs you like to help get started.

What do you need from me to start the process?

You don’t want your website to be a guessing game. Ask the person or team what information you’ll need to provide.

As we mentioned earlier, you may be asked to provide colors, ideas, or designs you like. Your designer should ask for any brand guidelines or style guides you have, and possibly photos or videos. Getting branding and design ideas now can help you prepare for when the process starts.

Do you out-source designers or work in-house?

Not all digital marketing agencies design websites in-house. Instead, they’ll act as the main point of contact between you and an outsourced designer. Many digital marketing and web design agencies use very talented outsourced resources, but it could be helpful to know whether designers will be in-house or hired outside the company.

In-house designers provide more flexibility in project timelines and communication. You’ll be able to speak to the people designing your website directly, and express your needs or goals to people directly getting to know your brand. No matter whether you choose an agency with in-house or outsourced designers, make sure you feel comfortable with voicing your vision, ideas, and goals.

Do you have images you can use, or do I need to provide my own?

Customers respond better to personal photos of brands, so it’s recommended to provide your own photos for the website. However, large websites may require a large amount of photos that you simply don’t have. Check whether professional photography services are also available through the company, or if access to stock images is available. Photos are a valuable part of any website, and it’s important to know where they’re coming from.

Can you write content for my website?

Content creation of new copy isn’t always included within initial web design projects. Not every project needs new content, especially if the website is receiving a redesign rather than being built from scratch. However, website content should provide value to your customers. Ask whether or not the company will provide copywriting within the contract or as an additional service, or if you’ll need to provide your own.

Can I add products or an online store to my site?

Some website designers don’t offer e-commerce capabilities within their packages. E-commerce sites are more complicated and require a higher level of security. It’s important to ask a web designer if an online store is possible, especially if it’s something you could plan to add down the road.

What is included with my website design package?

Website design and creation is more than just putting together a website that looks good. Ongoing security, hosting, management, search engine optimization, valuable content, support, and other additional factors work together to create a truly successful online presence. Thoroughly read through the contract or talk with the agency before finalizing any paperwork. Your website should be built with more than just the design in mind.

Do you offer other services?

Some agencies offer a variety of digital services so you can build a complete marketing strategy all in one place. Of course it’s important to have a beautifully designed website, but what are your plans after it launches? How will you promote it? Complete marketing strategies can be developed even before website creation begins.

Logo development, brand style guides, professional photography and videography can work together to build your brand, especially if you’re just starting out. Search engine optimization, blog writing, content creation, social media management, graphic design, mobile apps, and more can be used to boost your website during and after launch. If a full digital strategy is what you’re looking for, it could be more convenient to work with a company that offers all those services in one place.

We hope the above questions will provide you with a starting point while you search for a website designer. Many web design companies will consult with potential clients, so it’s important that you ask these questions. At Vervocity, we take the time to get to know our clients and their brands. We want our clients to be wildly successful, and we’d love to chat with you about your next project!

Vervocity offers in-house web development and website design in Quincy, IL, the surrounding areas, and across the country. No project is too big or small. Contact us today for a consultation!