So you're interested in hiring a web designer or agency to help you create a new website for your company. Perhaps you've even booked your website design consultation.
Whatever the case, its important that you're prepared for this initial consultation so that you can get your questions answered and have a planing for executing a successful web project on behalf of your company.
The aim of this article is to provide you with our professional expertise so you can prepare for your website consultation. It's important that you ask questions of the freelancer or agency you are meeting with to discover if they not only have the skills to get your website project done right, but will also be an enjoyable experience to work with together for your peace of mind.
Based on over five years of experience working on website design and development projects, we've compiled the top 10 questions you need to ask when meeting with your web design agency or freelancer in an initial consultation.
If you're looking for broader advice on how to navigate the sales process of a web design and development project, check out the video below.
1. What services do you offer?
This one seems counter-intuitive. We design websites, of course!
Sure. But many web design agencies or freelancers also offer digital marketing services. Things like paid social ads, SEO optimization, content marketing, PPC management, logo design, video production –the list goes on and on.
It's important for you to ask this question if you are interested in those types of services.
Why? Because it simply makes more sense to have the company that creates your website to also handle your marketing (if you're looking to outsource that, of course.)
That’s because when you take a step back, your website is really just one piece of your entire digital marketing strategy. It probably just doesn’t seem that way since its the most visible digital asset and has a unique role.
But trust us, it is. Your website should be at the nexus of all your digital marketing efforts. It's how you generate leads through your website and ultimately increase your revenues. So it would make sense that the same people that craft your website also craft your entire digital marketing strategy.
If you agree to terms, they’ll already know all about your business, industry, competitors and overall strategy.
This makes them the one best suited to handle the digital marketing that will allow you to really get the most out of your website.
2. What Does Your Web Design Process look like?
This is might be the most important question on this list.
If you're done with the call without knowing this, it just means you didn’t get enough out of your consultation. You want your web designer or developer to have a professional process in place. This process should be well-reasoned, efficient and be centered around you. When evaluating their website project process, make sure they are able to not just explain what they are doing, but why they are doing it.
Anyone can create a process. But it takes a true professional to actually put together an efficient process that increases the success of projects. The mark of an effective web design process is one with an efficient workflow that regularly requests and implement client feedback. So, how do you know if the web designer you're talking to has this kind of a process?
The main thing to look for is that there are safeguards in place that ensure you are on the same page and you will have input.
For example, in our projects, we don’t move on to the next phase without client approval. If we’re in the research phase, we don’t move forward until the client has signed off on the strategy and design brief. If we’re in the design phase, we don’t start developing the website until all of the wireframes have been approved.
A process like this ensures you are kept on the same page as your designer through each individual phase. It also makes it possible for you to easily cut ties if the project isn’t working out. That’s because it will be clear what work has been done and how much you will owe for it.
Lastly, this also greatly reduces your risk because you have a clear cut exit strategy. Of course, you hope that never happens. But it's important to know.
3. What Design and Development Assets Will You Need From Me?
Creating a business website is a team effort. As you're discussing the project with your web consultant, you should ask what assets you will need to provide.
Quite honestly, it might be more than expected.
The things your design company may request vary.
Most will want the usual brand style guides, photography, graphics, content, and so on.
But some may ask for or detailed analysis of your business's financials or customer information that you may not have on hand.
You should ask these questions so you can get a good sense of what your responsibilities as the client will include.
Deadlines work two ways, so it's important you know ahead of time what you will be responsible for.
4. How Much Time Do You Spend on Research After The Consultation?
Great websites aren’t built by chance.
They are built by analyzing the entire macro and micro business & competitive environment your company operates. From there, a talented web development team can create a strategy that is aimed at the right audience, increases website traffic, and ultimately produces the results you're looking for.
That’s why you need to ask how much time is spent analyzing your business and industry during a consultation call.
The research phase is the most important part of the project.
The insights discovered during this phase impact the direction of the entire project. It’s s essentially the foundation your website is built on. You need to make sure it's a strong one.
That's why the first step in our process is to provide our clients with a Growth Marketing Roadmap. This includes a complete audit of their current website, an in-depth analysis of their online marketing strategy, and a customized website game plan tailored to their exact situation and long-term goals.
Instead of signing our clients to a long-term engagement right away, we instead have pivoted to a micro-engagement as our initial step following a consultation.
This gives our team the ability to do all the necessary research & discovery work needed to put together an effective marketing strategy for the website.
5. Can You Handle Web Development Too?
As web design and web development are two very distinct fields, it's important to confirm that whoever you hire for web design will also develop the website after designing it.
Web designers typically focus on the visual side of web creation, while web developers take care of the coding behind the scenes.
Even with today’s web design tools, web designers need web developers to help them with things such as creating interactive forms/web applications, optimizing content for search engine results, implementing features like payment gateways or subscription services (if the site is e-commerce), debugging code, and setting up databases for information storage.
It is also beneficial to have one agency handle both web design and development as it makes communication between teams easier since they'll be talking to the same people throughout the entire process.
This will reduce any miscommunication or confusion that could arise if multiple teams were working on the same project without being aware of what each other was doing.
Finally, by having one agency do both web design and development work for you means that your website is built from start to finish with a consistent vision in mind. Instead of different parts being built by different people who may not understand how everything works together, your project is managed from start to finish by one team who understands every aspect of it.
6. What Platform Will The Website Be Built On?
Another critical question to ask so you can get the most out of your initial meeting is to. Why? Because it has massive implications for the future of your website and how much flexibility you will have once the project is complete.
You want to make sure that your website is built on a fully featured platform with no limitations. You're hiring a professional after all, and they should be building your website with professional tools.
When it comes to the technical aspects of creating a website, there are many different tools out there that can help businesses create a functional and aesthetically pleasing website.
However, companies should avoid using tools like Wix or Squarespace for their web projects as they lack the flexibility and features needed to build a successful website. These platforms may seem convenient at first, but in the long run they are more likely to cause problems than solutions.
Simply put, these tools are better for solopreneurs or new businesses just getting established. If that doesn't describe your situation, avoid these tools like the plague.
If you are looking for a professional tool, Webflow and WordPress would be our top two recommendations. When we create a custom website for our clients, we have moved to Webflow because it is the most feature-rich and effective website development tool on the market today (in our opinion).
However, we are still very familiar with WordPress and advise our clients on which platform is best for them based on their situation. If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of each platform, click here to check out a podcast we produced on this topic.
7. How Much Input Will I Have On The Website Design Project?
Like we said earlier, you want to make sure the web design process is centered around you so it can be an effective tool to grow your business.
Discovering this should be one of your top priorities, as close collaboration between the client and agency/freelancer is essential for a successful partnership.
By asking how much input you will have on things like layout, content writing, landing pages, responsive design, you will have a clearer picture of how involved you will get to be. You will also want to know how often meetings will be held (and if they can accommodate a virtual meeting).
Now, you shouldn’t demand full, 100% creative control.
We’re big believers in the Steve Jobs hiring philosophy: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”.
But at the end of the day, it is your company and your brand. You know it better than anyone.
Ultimately, the brand position you take needs to be one that you’re comfortable with. If you're not, there’s no way you are going to be able to successfully execute on the potential of your new website to get more leads.
You simply won’t be a believer in what you're selling.
To avoid this, make sure there are at least a few design meetings where your feedback is requested. This way you can be sure the team you work will really understand what you are looking to achieve and that things are progressing in the right direction.
The web designer should be able to explain the rationale behind every decision made, and you should have the ability to respectfully push back.
Also, make sure that the contract allows for some design revisions. It’s unlikely they’re going to produce exactly what you're looking for on the first try. Make sure that you are allowed an explicit number of revisions, or the cost will quickly rise.
8. How Long Will The Website Project Take?
This is a key question to ask just because of how important your business website is.
In our experience, sometimes a company's current website needs a revamp so badly that their top priority is speed.
We get it. That’s why we're going to give you the most honest answer we can, which you are sure to love: it all depends.
The scope of your project.
It all comes down to how big of a project it is. The more web pages, graphics, and functionality you need, the longer it is going to take.
It’s hard to determine this during the consultation. You may have no idea what you need, which is completely understandable.
That’s why you are talking to a professional web design consultant for guidance. The way we determine this is by having our clients fill out a thorough discovery document that defines the scope of the project. We have them do this before we send any proposals or contracts.
This way, everything is accounted for and we can give an accurate quote. Still, it’s worth asking –even though you will probably only get an “it depends” type answer during the consultation.
Ask about when they are available to start working on the project to ensure your calendars align. You could also ask them about the timeline of past projects to get a ballpark figure.
9. What happens if I want to expand the scope of the project?
Halfway through the project, you may realize you want or need a bigger website. The person or company you work with may even be the one that suggests it. This is a common occurrence.
Sometimes, no amount of due diligence during the research phase can foresee that. It shouldn’t be a big deal.
But before you sign on with a web designer, make sure you know what the policy is requiring increased project scope.
Most web designers and agencies will happily quote you a new price for the new deliverables.
However, some may charge an extra fee on top or not accept it at all past a certain point.
Whatever their policy is regarding project scope, make sure you know it.
10. What’s Your Pricing Model?
Nobody likes to talk about money, which is why we saved this for last.
However, it is necessary to get clarification on their pricing model during your web design consultation call. There are three main types of pricing models web designers use: hourly, value, and milestone.
Hourly pricing is just what it sounds like. The web designer or agency has an hourly rate and they’ll bill for however many hours it takes to complete your project. They’ll generally use a time tracking app to keep everything transparent.
Value pricing works out as a flat rate for the entire project. Instead of charging you hourly, they charge you a set price for the value they are bringing to your business by creating a website for it.
Milestone pricing is like a hybrid of both. You will be billed after completing each major phase of the web design process. For example, you may be invoiced after the certain phases of the project (like the finishing of the design).
Choosing which pricing method you prefer is ultimately up to whatever makes the most sense for your business.
There’s no right or wrong way. Some web designers even employ a mix of all three. Either way, make sure you get the details during the web design consultation.
Grow Your Business With a Free Website Design Consultation
Looking for help navigating your project? We've got you covered.
We offer all prospective clients a complimentary strategy call to learn more about their company and map out a custom tailored website and digital marketing strategy. If you're ready to take the first step towards growing your company online, click here to schedule a web design consultation.