This was written assuming one is needing a professional website.
It makes sense to be shown examples of work, or references of clients to speak with. After all, it is your business, and you want the best for your money. Other questions one should ask the web designer / graphic designer are the following:
- Code. They should be able to write HTML code manually.
- Meta-Stuff. Can they create the meta-tags and optimize them for major search engines.
- Interactivity. Do they have the ability to create forms and other interactive content (Flash animations, interactive / intuitive menus, etc..).
- Servers. Have they worked with websites in a secure server environment.
Here are some facts that can help one get a firm feeling of the web designer‘s skill level:
- Frontpage. It is extremely RARE that professional web designers use Microsoft Frontpage for web design. — this IS a warning sign.
- Hand Coding. Some professional web designers work mainly with plain text editors. In theory this is good — it means they write code by hand, which shows a thorough understanding of the medium. – BUT plain text editors are NOT the most efficient way of coding.
- Software. Adobe Dreamweaver and other programs like it are excellent and correspondingly expensive. Although owning an expensive program doesn’t mean the website designer knows it well, it does mean that they have made the financial commitment to having the best tool for the job.
What software the web designer uses, is not such a big deal.— it’s an indicator. (stay away from Frontpagers!!)
Find out how the web designer is going to optimize (SEO), your site for search engines. If the web designer doesn’t know, or if the designer says, choosing great meta-tags is what you need to do; they don’t know how to optimize your site for search engines.
Ask the web designer what their process is to construct your website. How do they determine your needs? Will you have consultation time during construction? If so, How often? What happens if you don’t like their design?
Make sure to be clear about who owns the site upon completion. Some web designers retain copyright. In our opinion, you paid for the website, and the website belongs to you. Period.
Ask about how much a website costs. DO NOT be mesmerized by a cheap quote — this tends to mean something important is missing. But, if you receive a quote more than a few thousand dollars you should expect a stunning result with remarkable results in search engines — the majority of websites can be made for less than this.
Ensure that you also ask about hosting. There are probably a million hosting companies out there, some cheap, some not so cheap. Make sure you have the following (since they are pretty much standard:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited email accounts
- Unlimited storage
- MySql support (should be unlimited instances of databases)
- Unlimited file transfer (uploading and downloading content to/from your site)
When talking about domains, and hosting, we believe you should own each. We should know own your domain, or the content on it. We can refer you to a great hosting solution with an excellent price, with world class service, and 99.9% uptime. (your site isn’t down)
Make sure to ask for example sites the web designer has produced. Chances are, if they all look the same, yours will look just like the examples. If all of the sites are different, then you are in for some excitement, since you are choosing a creative web designer.
Another thing to think about is Search Engine Optimization. Although it is not imperative that web designer is an SEO Specialist, since you may want a different person / entity to complete this task. If they can perform SEO correctly, it sometimes can be good having one person / company performing all your online marketing.