Questions to Ask When Hiring a Web Designer
Because many website builder options are available, graphic designers, marketing consultants, and even photographers have added website design to their services. They may have learned to work with a website builder (examples include: Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Godaddy’s website builder) or even have a basic knowledge of WordPress. However, they may not have the skills or experience to develop and maintain a search-friendly website that will grow and change along with your business.
Here are five essential questions to help you determine their web design and development skills. You’ll be able to tell if they are a graphic designer that has learned to work with a website builder:
1. Where can I find current and past examples of your work?
Ideally, they have a website with a portfolio and links to current clients and sites they’ve designed. Carefully examining their portfolio and work samples can help you assess their overall style and skills. Their work samples can also be a jumping-off point to discuss their technical skills, including how they built their business’ website. If they used a website builder, that is a significant indicator that their web design and development skills are not as strong as would best support your business.
2. Which publishing, design, and content maintenance technologies would you use to build and maintain my site?
Even if you’re not tech-savvy, they should be able to present you with clear options in a way that you can generally understand. For example, you could ask the following question: “I want to be able to update the text and images on my website. Will you use a website builder product or a content management system like WordPress?”
If they are using WordPress, ask how knowledgeable they are about using WordPress. Do they know how to do the basics of using the hosting provider’s automatic installer and how to work with specific pre-designed themes and plugins? Will they be able to design a custom theme? If so, will they use a drag-and-drop editor for WordPress?
Be wary of drag and drop editors and website builder products
Drag and drop editors for WordPress and website builders make it easy for people unfamiliar with web development and how to work with the code that powers a website. However, they have drawbacks.
Drag and drop editors for WordPress add code and scripts that will slow down your site while often removing the built-in SEO features of WordPress. These editors can also make it more difficult for the business owner or staff to be able to update the text on their site. Adding or changing text can be complicated, and it can be easy to mistakenly change the look or layout of the website.
Website builder products often have limited options and flexibility with the provided templates. The scripts that are used with these products may hinder the search friendliness of the site. Also, while you own the content you added to the site (the text & images), you do not own the website files. If you want to move away from that website builder in the future, you will need to create a new site.
A skilled web designer & developer’s website will be hand-coded or have a custom-designed WordPress theme
Ideally, you want to work with a web designer with experience in hand-coding sites and a solid knowledge of working with the code that WordPress uses. They should be able to install WordPress manually, using security best-practices. They should also be able to build a custom theme or functionality for your site that best suits your needs.
3. How will you optimize my website for search engines?
Ask them to explain which strategies and methods they’ll use to boost your rankings in the major search engines. Will they simply be using a third-party service to accomplish this? Do they have knowledge of the basics and best practices behind a search friendly website? You want to ensure they know how the site is structured and behind-the-scenes code. And that they understand how the website content and organization affect overall SEO and the search friendliness of your website.
Be wary of those who use many buzzwords yet cannot explain their skills and expertise and how they can help you clearly and concisely.
4. What kind of special features can you integrate into my site?
Will they be able to add such features as a custom contact form, email list signup form, blog, or shopping cart? Will they be able to go a step further and customize your site? For example, if your site is built with WordPress, you may want your site to have a unique look and layout that matches your branding instead of using a pre-designed theme. Will they be able to work with the code to make changes or create a custom solution for you? Will they be doing the work themselves? Do they have someone on their team that will work on your project? Or will they be outsourcing the work?
5. What is your approach to security issues and other potential website problems?
It’s essential to know how they would respond should your site crash or get hacked — and how quickly. Find out how often your site will be backed up. Also, ask what will be done to protect your site against phishing, data theft, and malicious file execution. When your site is built with WordPress, security measures should be in place from the beginning: a combination of how WordPress is installed and the themes and plugins are essential. Read more about WordPress website security here.
Graphic designers often have beautiful websites filled with stunning graphics. They could be an excellent choice for designing your logo or graphics to use on your site. However, they may not be an expert in web design and development and, therefore, not the best choice to build and maintain your business website.
Are you looking for a creative resource to design or rebuild your website? Webb Weavers Consulting based in Ventura, CA can help! Explore custom website design, WordPress website design & development, WordPress website packages, and WordPress website maintenance plans.