Your website is one of the most important tools that your company has. Many businesses rely heavily on their sites for sales, marketing and getting general information to their customers. For ecommerce businesses, your website might represent your entire livelihood.
So, you shouldn’t trust the design of your website to just anybody. In thinking about what to look for in a great web designer, reviewing someone’s portfolio and asking stock interview questions like “tell me about a time you faced a challenge,” might not be enough.
Here are ten questions you should consider asking potential website designers or web design agencies to make sure they are a good fit.
1.) What are your core services?
Before you can truly assess whether a web designer is going to be right for you, you need to know what they are offering. Is it just design? Do they also include development? Do they design with SEO in mind? Not only will asking about the services they offer allow you to properly set expectations, it also gives you insight into how the designer or agency views themselves, and where they think they are strongest.
2.) How do you factor usability in your design?
Having a discussion about usability will show you whether your designer is thinking first and foremost about the visitors to the site, as opposed to focusing solely on aesthetics. Obviously, you want your designer to be capable of creating something that looks great, but you need them to be thinking the whole way through about how a user is going to experience your site at every step of the way. Their attitude and enthusiasm about usability will also be telling. If they approach it like a chore that has to be thrown in with their beautiful designs, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. Ideally, your designer will have exciting ideas about how to design for usability.
3.) What work do you do before the work?
This question is all about planning and research. You want your designer to take the time to develop a basic understanding of your business before diving into the design. They should understand who your competitors are and what their sites look like, as well as the market that your business operates in. Aside from research, make sure your designer is spending enough time on planning the content structure and thinking about the overall functionality of the site.
4.) How do you measure results?
It’s important for both you and your designer to remember that your website is more than just a series of text, graphics and images arranged in an appealing fashion. It is a business tool used for marketing, sales, and to foster growth. So, when you do review your designer’s portfolio of previous projects, it’s not enough to just see what those sites looked like, you should ask to see the results. Do they have verified data that reflects the impact of their work? Metrics like unique visitors, page views, time on site, conversion rates, search engine rankings – are all great indicators. Testimonials from previous clients are fine, but numbers showing results are even better.
5.) How is your design going to help me achieve my business goals?
Chances are, you are designing or re-designing your website for a reason. Even if that reason is just “I need a (better) website,” you are bound to have goals in mind that you are hoping to achieve with your new site. Those goals will likely be specific to your company and the type of business you are doing, and the industry you are operating in. Bringing up your specific goals with your potential designer and asking how they are going to help you achieve those goals will give you a good sense of how they approach design, and whether or not they actually understand those goals.
6.) Do you have examples of sites with similar goals?
Ideally, your designer will be able to follow up on the previous question with not just ideas about how to achieve your goals, but solid examples of previous clients who they have helped to achieve similar goals. Even if they can’t speak to the specifics of what you are hoping to accomplish, it’s important to hear them talk about their previous work in the context of helping their clients accomplish their goals.
7.) Will you analyze my site’s traffic beforehand?
Any good web designer should have an understanding of what situation they are stepping into before embarking on a project. Examining a site’s current traffic patterns can help reveal what strengths and weaknesses are already there and what your current audiences’ behaviors are. Like a good doctor, the ethos here should be “first, do no harm.”
8.) What is your approach to testing?
Once the site is built, someone is going to have to figure out whether or not the theories discussed throughout the design process are going to be effective once put into action. If your designer includes conversion and usability testing as part of their services, all the better. That way, testing can be part of the design process instead of having to come later. It may be an additional service or follow-up service, but you’ll want to know if it’s even on the table.
9.) What is the process for making changes later?
Websites aren’t static works of art that exist in a vacuum. At some point, changes are going to need to be made, whether they are small tweaks or major additions. Do yourself a favor and have that discussion now so that you know what to expect from that process.
10.) How is your operation structured?
Finally, you can learn a lot about a person or company from the way that they structure their business and handle their workflow. Do projects can divvied up amongst teams? Is one designer handling everything from start to finish? Do they ever outsource to freelancers? Have them take you through the process from start to finish of how the various parts of their team will be handling your project.
Ultimately, there is not one set of right and wrong questions or answers for a web design project. Every company is going to have different needs. But the more detail you can get out of your designer from the interview process, the better position you are going to be in to have a successful relationship.
At 10twelve, we like to dive right in and find out the ins and outs of your business, competition and what we can do to help you grow. Contact us for a 30-minute free strategy session today!