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5 Secret Questions You Should Ask Your New Web Designer (and how to tell if they’re any good)

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Imagine the scenario. You need a business website for your new business. Or you need a refresh for your existing website. Where do you begin, and how do you know what to ask a Designer to see if they’re a good fit for you?

As an experienced Designer, here are my 5 top questions to sort the novices from the experts who can add genuine value to your business:

5. See if they understand your business

When choosing a Designer, one of the first things to figure out is if they understand your industry, your particular business and your needs. Before a meeting you’d expect them to do research into you, and be able to ask you relevant questions about your specific circumstances. A Designer who asks you hardly any questions is NOT one you should work with.

Choose a Designer who takes the time to understand your business, your objectives, and your target audience. They should be able to translate your vision into a functional and visually appealing site that aligns with your brand and, over time, delivers on your goals for the next few years. Here’s what can you ask them:

Based on everything you know about me so far, what do you think sets me apart from my competition?

Asking them this will give them chance to prove that they’ve truly understood you before your partnership starts. If they can’t answer this or they attempt to rush through an answer, your BS detector will almost certainly go off. Protip: If they’ve not understood you properly, an experienced Designer will be completely honest and will use this opportunity to get to know and understand you. This takes integrity, and is a a very good sign.

4. Check their Portfolio and Experience

Review the Designer’s portfolio to see their style, quality of work, and versatility. You may have found a generalist Designer who’s great at illustration, but lacks an understanding of UX and page conversions. Look for examples of websites they’ve created for businesses similar to yours. Experience matters, so consider how long they’ve been in the industry and any specialised skills they bring to the table. Here’s what can you ask them:

Out of all the projects you’ve worked on, which one taught you the most valuable lessons?
And what did you learn from it?

Asking this will be a curveball that confuses novice Designers, and allows great Designers to explain how they grew from an experience and applied their knowledge to new projects.

3. See if they’re honest and authentic

Effective communication is crucial throughout your partnership. If a Designer can’t communicate with you effectively on that first Zoom call, they’re unlikely to be able to throughout the process, and lots can get lost in translation if you only communicate via email. During your initial meeting, ensure that the Designer is responsive, attentive, and asks plenty of intelligent questions (not just “what’s your favourite colour?”). To establish whether they’re good at communicating, here’s what you can ask them:

Have you worked with anyone difficult in the past? If so, how did you overcome any issues your client had?

Clear communication from the start will help prevent misunderstandings later down the line when your partnership is in full swing, and ensure that your website meets your expectations when it launches. It also ensures you fully know what they intend to do for you, and you’re not left feeling shortchanged at a later date.

2. See if they have good technical knowledge

You might not know all the latest web technologies and terms, but that’s ok, that’s why you’re looking for someone who does. Any Designer you work with should have experience with multiple technologies, and on top of having a solid foundation of knowledge, should also be keeping up to date with the latest developments and trends. Here are a few questions you can ask them:

What coding language will my site be developed in?
Do you use a no-code builder or build it from the ground up?
Do you use templates or plugins?
Will my site be GDPR compliant?
Will I have access to a CMS (Content Management System) or will I need to contact you every time I want a change to my site?
How much time will you dedicate to improving load speeds?
Will the site be fully responsive? (working properly on mobile)
Will you fully test my website before it goes live?
Will you work with a developer or do you develop it yourself?

A novice Designer will get flustered at some of these, and may try to give longer answers to overcompensate for their lack of knowledge. An experienced Designer will use the opportunity to ask you follow-up questions based on your needs, so they can ensure they’re clear on your requirements before they give you the answer that’s best for you.

If your site also needs an eCommerce platform (an online shop such as Shopify), it’s vital to tell the designer up front, as this will affect the price. Be prepared to pay a lot more for a site that handles payments, and make sure your Designer is fully aware of how complex your site may need to be.

1. See what ongoing support they offer

Building a website is not a one-time task; it requires ongoing support and maintenance to keep it updated, secure, and optimised for performance. A great designer will ensure you know all the costs and parameters of this upfront, as this forms the basis of your ongoing relationship. You’re creating this website together, and it’s vital that they’re invested in the success of your website and don’t just see it as a product they can build, launch, and forget about. To see how dedicated they are to an ongoing partnership with you, here’s what you can ask them:

What happens after my website goes live?

Discuss post-launch support options with the Designer, including maintenance packages, whether they’ll offer you training for managing the content, and if they’ll be able to offer future updates. A novice Designer will give you the bare minimum here. A great Designer will surprise you with high levels of after-launch support.

It’s also vital that you know how much they’ll charge if you want to make any big changes or updates to the site in the future. No Designer will make development changes for free, so make sure you’re both on the same page about the ongoing costs before the partnership starts.

So, are they any good?

A novice Designer…

Will try to answer all your questions immediately, and may overcompensate by bluffing or pretending they know everything when you ask questions. Some may use jargon to distract you and make it seem like they know more than they do.

A good Designer…

Will take the time to ask you questions in return, and will communicate effectively and clearly. They’ll give knowledgeable answers and will be as upfront as possible, but may not know the answers to every question you have. They may see the website as a quick solution to launch.

And a truly great Designer…

Will do everything a good Designer does, but will also provide suggestions you hadn’t thought of. They’ll reassure your niggling concerns, and they’ll be completely transparent about their processes and the price. They’ll see the website how you want them to see it — as a partnership where you can fully supported throughout the life of the website. The partnership doesn’t end simply because your site goes live — in fact that’s just the beginning.

By asking the questions above, you can choose a Designer who not only creates a stunning website, but also becomes a valuable partner in your business’s online success.

If you’d like to partner with someone who will truly nurture your website into life in a process that feels more fun than effort, get in touch today. With over 12 years of experience launching sites all around the world and a 97% customer happiness rating, I’m confident that becoming your dedicated website partner is something I’d absolutely LOVE.

Thanks for reading!