Your business website is one of the biggest and most important marketing investments you’ll make. Because your website is so vital to your success, the decision of whom to hire to create and manage your website is very important.
You don’t want to mess this up.
Unfortunately, and we’re just going to put this bluntly, there are a lot of really bad website designers out there. These people range from less-than-competent website hobbyists to outright thieves, who will take your money and disappear. Fortunately, there are some great designers as well, though they can often be much harder to find.
In order to make sure the time and money you invest in your website is done so wisely, ask yourself these questions before hiring any website designer:
Can they work within your budget?
This should be the first question you ask because the answer will let you know if your potential website designer is respectful of where you are in your business plan, at this time, or if they are more interested in selling you a bunch of stuff you can’t afford.
You get what you pay for in this world and this is very much true of website design. However, a reputable website designer will be honest with you about where you should apply your limited funds so that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Then they should be willing to help you create a plan to improve your website as your budget allows.
Which content management system (CMS) do they use?
Ask your potential website designer if they use an open source system or a proprietary one. With a proprietary system, you are tied to the website designer, who owns exclusive rights to updating your website. This usually means that they also charge you for every update that needs to be made. An open source system gives you the freedom to make changes yourself or hire whomever you want to do so for you.
For instance, at San Clemente Website Design, we work with WordPress, which is an open source system that enables our clients to quickly and easily make their own website changes. This saves them money and allows them to own their own content. If your potential website designer uses a platform other than WordPress, ask questions to make sure you will have ownership rights to your content.
Do they adhere to website design best practices?
Let’s be honest; any computer literate person with an internet connection and a little patience can learn how to throw a website together. However, knowing how to make a website professional in appearance, user-friendly, search engine-optimized and an effective part of your overall marketing plan, is what separates the boys from the men (or the girls from the women), in the world of website design.
Ask your potential designer to explain how they provide error-free navigation, their approach to overall functionality, their experience with SEO or the methods by which they balance color and graphics. If they don’t have clear, understandable answers to these questions (and, better yet, examples to show you from past work), they probably don’t have the level of expertise that you deserve.
How is your rapport with them?
You have to work with these people in a creative and collaborative effort. It’s important to like and respect them. It’s also important for them to like and respect you. We recommend the approach that we take at San Clemente Website Design: We only work with awesome people and it makes life much more enjoyable.
Can they provide long-term website support?
If you are like most small business owners, you are better at creating, designing, building and selling whatever it is you do than you are at managing your website. In this case, you’ll need to hire someone who is more than just a website designer but a website manager.
We know from experience that website designers and business owners are both more successful when they can develop a mutually beneficial, trusting partnership. If you need more hand-holding to navigate the online world, then find a website designer who treats you like a relationship, not a one-off project.
Can they provide additional online and website services?
Is your logo a little outdated? Do you need help managing your social media? Can your website’s written content use a professional touch? Maybe you are ready to enter the world of blogging, online newsletters or internet advertising. Some website design agencies aim to offer their clients a one-stop shop for all their online marketing needs. The ability to buy additional services from your website designer can be a cost (and sanity) saver for you.
Can I get this in writing?
It should go without saying that you should never enter any sort of business relationship without a signed contract but, unfortunately, too many people do it and, inevitably, regret it. So, we’re saying it: Insist on a written contract. In fact, we’ll say it again just to make sure you heard it: INSIST ON A WRITTEN CONTRACT!!!
Make sure the contract clearly outlines expectations, payment, timetables and every other detail of your project. If you receive any sort of hesitation from your potential website designer about working with a contract, or they insist on any type of payment before a contract is signed, then hightail it out of there.
Where are you located?
While geographic proximity (or lack thereof) isn’t a deal-breaker, some business owners think it’s important to do business with people with whom they can meet face-to-face and we agree. In fact, the majority of our clients live and work in San Clemente and they hire us because we do too. However, if you find the website designer of your dreams in a different town or state, make sure they are accessible to you when you need them and respond to your calls and emails in a timely manner.
Have more questions about hiring a website designer, in San Clemente or beyond? Then give us a call at 949-272-5700.