Designing a new website for your business is a big step. If you’re like most business owners, you’re excited to get started, but not sure how to choose a website designer.
To help you decide, here are 12 important questions you should ask a web designer before hiring them.
- How much does a website cost?
- Who will be doing the work?
- Who is responsible for the website copy?
- Who is responsible for website images?
- Who is responsible for branding?
- How long will the project take?
- What’s your process for website redesigns?
- Are your websites custom or do you work from templates?
- Who will I communicate with during the project?
- Are your sites optimized for conversions?
- Will I own the website, the domain, and the copy once it’s launched?
- Do you provide ongoing security and maintenance plans?
1. How much does it cost? Can you design a website that fits within my budget?
Prices vary, but most designers can work with any reasonable budget.
When shopping around for a potential web designer, you want to ensure you’re getting the quality you need at a price that works for you. Understanding the cost upfront is vital to starting a website design project with realistic expectations.
Generally, a website can cost anywhere between $300 and $20,000. That’s a huge range! How do you know where your project is likely to fall?
First, consider your website’s purpose. Is it primarily informational, like a local animal hospital or restaurant?
Or does your site need more complex functionality, like an eCommerce shop setup or a built-in membership platform?
The more complicated the site’s design, the more you can expect to pay for the finished product.
Beware of hiring a discount designer to save money. There’s a very high chance you’ll be dissatisfied with the final product and will end up having it redesigned by someone more qualified down the line.
Many of these designers frequent freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. While such designers could be eager new freelancers looking for their first gig, it’s not likely. Many site designers on these platforms are digital “jacks of all trades” who offer minimal-effort online products of questionable value.
What does this mean for you? If a design price seems too good to be true, well…you know the rest!
At April Ray Creative, we’ve designed websites ranging between $2,500 to $20,000 . Most of our clients invest between $5K and $10K for a new website.
The best way to get an accurate price estimate for your project is to request a quote through our form.. We’ll then schedule a quick call to learn more about your business and website requirements so we can offer you an accurate quote.
2. Who will be doing the work? Do you design sites in-house, or do you outsource your projects?
It depends on the web design agency. Some companies keep all designs in-house, while others work with subcontractors.
You’re looking for a website designer. Your search leads you to someone with a beautiful website and a fantastic portfolio. You’re ready to hire them! But you may find yourself wondering if the websites you admire are really the designer’s work.
After all, many businesses sell products they’ve developed by outsourcing labor. This isn’t always a bad thing, but we’ve seen instances of outsourcing lead to communication problems and unmet expectations due to communication issues.
All our sites are designed in-house, with websites created by April Ray and copywriting written by our in-house copywriter, Kelly Burchett.
Because we often juggle several projects at a time, we sometimes partner with other skilled creatives to provide better service to our clients. However, communication and final project polishing are always managed by April.
3. How do you handle copy? Am I responsible for writing the website copy, or do you work with a copywriter?
You can write your own copy, hire an outside copywriter, or work with your designer’s recommended copywriter.
One of the biggest mistakes I see with small business website design is business owners writing their own copy.
At first glance, you might wonder why you’d even consider hiring a copywriter for your website. After all, as a business owner, you know the ins and outs of your services or product offerings better than anyone else. Can’t you throw some words on a page and call it a day?
Well, you could. But I wouldn’t advise it. Here’s why: excellent copy is so much more than pretty words on a page.
Copywriters create content intended to engage your target audience on a deeply emotional level to move them down your sales funnel. The purpose of website copy is to compel your visitors to take action. Because at the end of the day, if your visitors don’t click the “buy” button, your business won’t grow.
A great copywriter doesn’t just sit down to write whatever language pops into their head. Before the writing phase even begins, they will spend a solid amount of time performing market research. Then, they’ll use the results to mine data about your target audience’s needs and desires.
Only then will they write content for your site, making sure to optimize it for the web.
A beautiful website without great copy is like a gorgeous house with nothing inside. It looks nice on the outside, but there isn’t much substance.
At April Ray Creative, we work with a single skilled creative copywriter on nearly all of our projects. Although clients have the option to write their own copy, we strongly advise against it. Non-professionally written copy won’t convert leads to clients in the same way that professionally written copy backed by quality market research will.
4. How do you handle images? Am I responsible for providing images (for example, stock photography or brand photography), or will you source the images for me?
A good website designer can work with existing brand images or they can source quality stock images for your website.
A professional website needs quality imagery to positively impact site visitors.
As a web designer, there’s nothing worse than seeing a website dotted with bad stock images sourced from Google.
Ideally, the bulk of your imagery will be branded to your business. But private photography isn’t available for every budget. What then?
As a website designer, I can access several professional photo libraries with thousands of quality images. These images are available for creative use without requiring a source reference.
Whether you come to the table with a ready-made portfolio or need help sourcing images that will capture the heart of your business, a great website designer should be willing to work with both.
5. How do you handle branding? Do I need to come up with a branding identity (logos, colors, types, etc.) already decided upon, or is that included in your process?
A new website design can integrate existing branding, or you can work with a creative professional for a new branding kit.
Consistent branding is one of the pillars of building a great business.
Despite this, I’m continually surprised by how many business owners put quality branding on the back burner.
It’s essential to have quality, consistent branding across all platforms. Not only does excellent branding make you stand out in your ideal customer’s mind, but it also builds trust with prospective buyers.
Think about visiting Starbucks. No matter your geographic location, you know that walking into any Starbucks will offer you the same experience. The colors, sizes, available flavors, and the atmosphere is the same whether you’re in Pasadena, California, or Seoul, South Korea.
While coming to the table with branding already completed will speed up your web design project, it’s not necessary. We have a team of trusted creatives we work with to create eye-catching, customized branding packages for our clients who want branding as part of their package.
6. How long will the project take? What’s the estimated timeline for this project, and what might hold up the project?
Timelines vary depending on the project, but most small business websites take between 6 weeks – three months.
Designing a website for your business is exciting, but a project without a clear timeline can quickly become stressful.
A good web designer will clearly state timelines, within reason, in your contract. The timeline will depend on project complexity, but an average website build takes 6 weeks to three months.
The timeline also depends on how quickly you provide the necessary information to the web designer. Suppose you expect a finished website by a specific date but cannot provide collateral on time. In that case, the timeline will be extended.
7. What’s your process for website redesigns? What kind of research do you do to review existing websites before designing a new one?
Some designers have a fee for a site redesign, while others treat it as a whole new project.
Sometimes your current website needs a little refresh. Not only is this necessary from an aesthetic perspective, but it also improves backend functionality like updated plugins, themes, or even an entirely new content management system.
If your site has an excellent Google ranking, be careful which website designer you choose for your project. If you hire someone who doesn’t understand how SEO works, you risk your hard-won Google ranking disappearing. Ouch. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen more than once. Vet your web designer carefully!
The redesign process at April Ray Creative is usually treated like a fresh design, but we’re careful to maintain existing page rankings. This lets us integrate new technologies and plugins that will build trust with your customers, improve the user experience, and enhance site security – all without losing your Google ranking.
Whether we’re redesigning a site or starting from scratch, we perform industry research and a full brand review before starting. This lets us gain a deep understanding of your target audience so we can understand their desires, fears, and motivations in seeking out your business.
8. Do you do custom website designs, or do you work from templates and child themes?
Most good website designers create custom websites, although some use templates to offer a more generic product with a faster turnaround
You might be wondering about the difference between custom websites and websites built from templates.
Websites built from templates can be completed faster, but their design can feel generic and is restricted to the boundaries of the template. For example, a template design can restrict the web designers ability to change the overall structure of the site and may only allow them to change colors and fonts.
Custom websites, on the other hand, take longer to build, but allow you to control every aspect of the design.
Most professional website designs are custom-built. However, some designers offer websites built from templates for a lower price. A template-built site isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be a good option for smaller businesses that may not have the budget for a fully customized design.
If you aren’t sure what you need, schedule a discovery call with your potential website designer to discuss your goals.
Child themes, on the other hand, are a great tool for designers and developers. They are typically used to speed up their development.
9. Who will I be communicating with during the project?
You may communicate with several different creatives throughout your web design process, but your website designer should establish themselves as your primary contact point.
Designing a new website is one of the largest expenses when launching a new business. Naturally, you want to ensure you have a clear line of communication between yourself and your designer to prevent miscommunication during your project.
Your website designer should set clear communication expectations from the beginning. They should inform you whether you’ll be speaking only with them or if you’ll also be in touch with their team members.
Some designers may ask you to communicate with other creative professionals like photographers, brand specialists, or copywriters.
A good web designer will make this clear when starting your project.
10. Are the sites you design optimized for conversions?
An optimized website converts leads into customers more reliably.
Site optimization is the process of designing a website with maximum lead and buyer generation in mind.
Why does conversion optimization matter?
Here’s why: the most beautiful website in the world is nothing more than a decoration if it doesn’t compel visitors to take action. A website is a tool whose function is to make a sale.
While your web designer should understand the elements that combine to create a visually appealing website, they must also understand concepts like sales funnels, calls to action, and content strategy.
April Ray Creative uses a tried and true method to turn visitors into customers by focusing on the journey a visitor will take on your site. We attempt to answer these questions with your website:
- What problems does your business help solve?
- What are the tangible AND emotional benefits of using your product or service?
- What is the process of working with you or using your product?
- How do you take the next step?
We also integrate sales funnels to capture leads and continue engaging them through email marketing.
11. Will I own the website, the domain, and the copy once it’s launched?
Yes, as long as your website is 100% custom and you pay for independent web hosting. Sites designed on building platforms like Wix and Squarespace are technically owned by those platforms.
When investing so much time and effort into your website, it’s natural to wonder if you’ll own the finished product.
Some website designers might rely on site-building platforms like Wix or Squarespace. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using these resources, there are a few problems:
Any site built on Wix, Squarespace, or a similar platform will be owned by the platform itself. Instead of owning the online space that’s housing your website, you’d be renting. If something happened to cause the platform to go down, your site would go down with it.
Site-building platforms are extremely limited in functionality. Most serious website designers build using WordPress, which offers a wide array of custom plugins, the ability to backup and move your site, and open source network to continue improving your site over time.
If you’re paying a web design agency to build your new website, you should own the website, the domain, and the copy once it’s launched.
Think of your domain as your street address, your website as your house, and your copy as the valuables inside. Although someone else built these things, you are the one who has invested your time and money into the finished product. Therefore, you own them.
12. Do you provide ongoing security and maintenance plans? If so, what’s included in your packages? Which package do you recommend I sign up for?
A good website designer will offer ongoing maintenance packages that keep your website up-to-date and protected.
Are you wondering what will happen to your website once it’s launched? Will your web designer leave you high and dry, so to speak?
These days, most website designers offer ongoing maintenance plans that perform routine security, backups, and other simple tasks. If you’re not super tech savvy (and hey, no judgment here!) you’ll want to make sure your website designer has a package that suits your needs. After all, you want your website to be a positive force in your business and not a source of ongoing stress.
At April Ray Creative, we don’t just “build the boat,” we get in the boat with you. We provide ongoing website and marketing support to help your business grow and evolve.
All of our packages include:
- Weekly plugin, theme, and WordPress updates
- Daily security updates
- Daily backups
- Monthly analytics reports
- Email support
- 1 hour of website and marketing support
- Strategy call/recommendations
- Discounted hourly rate
Our higher tier plans include more marketing support and we even have a website subscription plan so you get a total website refresh every three years!
Curious about my work? Check out my portfolio here!
Found this helpful and want more? Check out my free Website Workbook. This free resource has prompts and questions to guide you through creating the content for your website.
Interested in working with me on a website and marketing strategy? Let’s get the conversation started! Complete this questionnaire to begin the process.