19 crucial questions you must ask your web designer

11th June 2018
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes, 21 seconds.

Getting a new website built for your company can be a confusing task. Especially if you have little experience with websites and have never worked with a web designer in the past. Well, ensuring you get the perfect site means understanding how web designers work and how to build a proper relationship with one.

To do exactly this, we recommend asking these 19 crucial questions to ask your web designer. They will help you to understand everything there is to know and to help you make sure you have the right designer for the job before handing over any money. Let’s get started.

1. What are your payment terms?

There is no one set rule for how a web designer will accept payment. Instead, it is up to the designer to decide on a structure that is suitable for them and for you. Some web designers require the full payment upfront, whereas others take a staggered approach. This would see you making regular payments at predetermined intervals. These intervals could be based on dates, or once you have had a chance to see and review each portion of the build.

The Element Media approach: Our payment terms are incredibly straightforward. We take 50% of the final build cost upfront and then 50% upon completion. We find this works best for us, as we know you are serious about the project. We also believe it works best for you, as it saves you paying fully for the website until you are 100% happy with the final delivery.

2. Will I own the website?

Again, this will depend on the nature of your agreement with the web designer. Typically, if you are working with a pay monthly web designer, then you’ll find that you don’t actually own the site. Or at least not until you’ve made a certain number of monthly payments (usually around 12). Alternatively, if you buy your site in full through a designer, then you will normally find that the website is yours once the build is finished and all payments have been made.

The Element Media approach: Once you have signed off and reviewed our work, the website you have paid for is then solely owned by you. You are free to do with it as you wish!

3. How many pages will my site include?

When negotiating with your web designer, you will be able to come to an agreement as to how many pages your site will contain. If you are looking for a standard static website to showcase your website’s services, then a designer might offer you a standard rate for a site with 6 pages for example. Alternatively, if you require something more bespoke, then the designer might charge you on a per-page basis.

The Element Media approach: We offer 3 different web design packages. The Starter package contains 5 pages, the Advanced packaged contains 10 and the Elite package contains up to 20. You can find out more about our web design packages here

4. How easy is it for me to manage the site myself?

Different web designers use different platforms upon which to build their sites. The most popular by far is WordPress, and there’s a good choice you’ve heard of it as it powers the vast majority of active websites. If this is the case, then you’ll find performing simple tasks with your website relatively easy, such as uploading new blog posts. Other tasks you should consider are things like, how will you host the site? How will you check for plugin updates? And, how do you ensure your site is safe and secure?

The Element Media approach: We offer ongoing monthly support packages, which see us dealing with all of the technical aspects of running your site. You are welcome to be as active as you wish and will be happy to help you with managing key aspects after we have performed the build.

5. What CMS do you use?

CMS stands for content management system and is the system used to add in new articles and content quickly and easily. As mentioned, WordPress is the most popular CMS platform and is relatively intuitive. However, there are a variety of different CMS out there upon which your designer could build around. Ask them which one they use and get them to demonstrate its ease of use beforehand.

The Element Media approach: The majority of our builds utilise WordPress as it is incredibly straightforward to understand and can be completely customised to suit your needs. We will be happy to teach you how to use your website’s CMS on your own.

6. How much do you charge for general site maintenance and updates?

It is oftentimes a wise choice to have your web designer deal with ongoing maintenance and updates as it can be complex understanding how to do this yourself. Many designers offer a standard, fixed monthly rate for this service. You can then upgrade your package depending on what you require.

The Element Media approach: We offer a number of flexible ongoing monthly support services. For a standard website, these can start from as little as £15 per month. Any costs greater than this will vary greatly depending on exactly what it is you require.

7. Is it possible to take my website and host it on my own server?

If you are happy to deal with the issue of hosting your website yourself, then it can sometimes work out cheaper for you to go ahead and do so. However, if this is your intent, then you should be careful in making sure this is possible. Taking a static site (one without a CMS) and hosting it yourself is usually possible. However, depending on the CMS used, it is not always possible. For example, you’ll be unable to do this if your designer uses Webflow.

The Element Media approach: We aim to be as flexible as possible to our client’s needs and are almost always able to allow you to host your site yourself. As mentioned, if this is your intent, then it’s best to mention this to us at the start.

8. What examples do you have of similar websites you have built?

Never, ever, ever hand over money to a designer unless they are able to give you examples of their previous work. This point is kind of a given, but many people get too caught up in the prospect of getting their brand new site, that they fail to perform this step. Better yet, ask your designer to give you examples of sites that are most closely related to the website you need building. For example, if you need eCommerce functionality on your site, then ask for examples of sites that have just that.

The Element Media approach: Looking for examples of our fantastic work? Great! Simply head over to this page here. We are proud of all of our previous builds and are happy for you to take a look through them. If there’s anything missing and you’d like more examples, then just ask us here.

Ultimate Fitness web designer build
Faux Flowers Website Design
Web designer eCommerce example Medico Beauty

9. Is the website bespoke or built off a template?

If you are being quoted a very low price for your website, you may well find that the web designer is simply basing your site off a template. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. In fact, think of a template as a solid architecture for a home. It is robust and effective and proven to work. However, if your site is too similar to other templates, then it certainly won’t be unique. Instead, ask this question to your designer if you are looking for something 100% original to your brand.

The Element Media approach: We pride ourselves on offering fully bespoke designs to all of our clients. Rest assured that, when you work with us, you won’t find a duplicate of your site anywhere else online.

10. Do you offer additional services, such as content marketing and SEO?

Aside from building websites, web designers are also usually well equipped to help you with all other aspects of promoting your site. Such as developing and implementing an SEO strategy. You may well find that you can negotiate these services into your package from the start and save money overall, instead of outsourcing that work to another agency.

The Element Media approach: We pride ourselves on staying on top of evolving SEO trends and are happy to help clients to develop an SEO strategy. In fact, by working with us on your content marketing and SEO plan, you will likely see results far more quickly as we can integrate keywords and SEO best practices from the get-go when building your site. To find out more, just let us know if you’re looking for this early on.

11. How long will the site take to build?

This has to be one of the most important questions for your web designer! Ask them to give you a solid schedule of dates by which you can expect to see your site completed. Some designers will simply put your project on the backburner alongside 50 other projects if you don’t hold them accountable to a deadline.

The Element Media approach: We find that our standard website builds take up to 14 days to be completed. If you are looking for a more rapid turnaround, then just let us know and we will see what we can do. Alternatively, if your site is a larger, more bespoke build, then it might take up to 8 weeks to complete.

12. Will I be able to make revisions? If so, how many?

This is another crucial question to ask. Any good web designer will allow you to make revisions after they deliver your site, and these should be included in the overall price. Also, be sure to ask how much they charge if you need further rounds of revisions. They may come back with a set hourly rate. Either way, establish this before you make your initial payment and then get stuck with large ongoing revision costs.

The Element Media approach: We offer 1 complete round of revisions as standard on all of our packages. Then, if you decide to opt for our monthly support services, we can offer you updates and changes whenever you like. Of course, the extent of these changes will depend on which monthly package you decide on.

13. Exactly who will be building the site? You, or a colleague?

If you work with a large design agency, then you might find that the person responsible for the build is not who you thought it would be. This can make some customers uneasy as they tend to like to speak with and get to know the web designer personally before handing over their hard earned money. If this is the case for you, then be direct and ask your designer or agency this question.

The Element Media approach: We are a small 2-person design agency. With us, what you see is what you get and we are happy to each speak to you to demonstrate our own personal expertise and experience.

Michael Chapman-Johns

Michael Chapman-Johns

Managing Director

Dawn Norgrove

Dawn Norgrove

Creative Director

14. How much input will I have towards the finished design?

If you are looking to have heavy influence towards the websites overall feel, flow and design, then make this point clear to your designer. They may be expecting you to have little input and, in the end, you could be left with a site that doesn’t quite resemble what you had in your imagination.

The Element Media approach: We are happy for you to be as involved as you wish. If you have a few, or many, significant feature ideas, then let us know and we will be happy to work them in! Alternatively, if thinking creatively really isn’t your thing, then leave it to use to get the job done right.

15. Are there any design elements that are too complex for you to create?

If what you require is quite a unique element to your site, then not all designers are equipped to support your needs. For example, though many designers can integrate CMS, not all of them can build a custom search engine. This is why you should be clear in identifying early on exactly what you need, so that a designer can be honest with you in highlighting any aspect of the build that they are not skilled enough to fulfill.

The Element Media approach: We are experts in all major areas of website design, right through from integrating CMS to building you an all-in-one online store for your business. If what you require is a little more complex, then let us know and we will be honest with you on whether or not we can do that for you.

16. What information will you need from me before you can start?

In order to help the build progress smoothly and quickly, you should ask your designer exactly what info they need from you before beginning. This is also important as it can help to avoid costs racking up. For example, some designers might require you to provide all imagery and text for your site. If you don’t discover this until after you’ve made a payment, then you could find they charge large sums for sourcing this for you. You will also need to supply any other business related info, such as prices, opening hours and contact details.

The Element Media approach: As mentioned, you can be as involved as you like in the build and are happy to source content and imagery if you don’t have any of your own. We can discuss this with you before providing a quote, to help ensure there are no hidden cost surprises.

17. How will you access images and graphics for my site?

If you’re not going to be providing these yourself, then ask your designer exactly where they get any of their graphics and imagery from. Some designer may wish to design custom graphics themselves, whereas others rely heavily on stock photo sites.

The Element Media approach: We can provide a whole array of custom graphics ourselves and would be happy to make these for you if required.

18. Can you give me an exact rundown of what is included in your price?

It is always useful to ask your designer for a detailed breakdown of how they came to the price they are quoting you for the build. This can help you identify any areas that you think they may be fluffing up their prices, and also identify ways that you can cut out in order to reduce the cost. It also means you have a detailed list of what to expect after the site is delivered.

The Element Media approach: We will be more than happy to provide an itemised list of how we came to your price! However, much of our standard pricing is based largely on the number of pages your site contains.

19. Will my website be fully compatible with all devices?

If you’re looking to perform well in Google and to rank highly for competitive keywords, you must have a fully responsive site. Ever since 2017, more people now begin a Google search for a website from their mobile than on a computer, As such, your site needs to look great and be fully responsive across all devices. Check with your designer that they are capable of achieving this and, once again, be critical in checking examples of their work.

The Element Media approach: Here at Element Media, we ensure that all of our finished websites are 100% compatible across all devices. This includes mobile devices of all sizes, tablets and, of course, desktop computers.

As standard, these are 19 questions that we believe you must ask your web designer. By doing so, you can get a complete understanding of what your final site will actually look like, and to help ensure you find no hidden surprises with the final cost. Of course, take the time to note down any other questions you have and ask away. No question is a stupid question! If you would like to find out more about our web design service, you can contact us here.

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