With the rise of Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress in the last 10 years, the process of building a website has been greatly simplified. Unfortunately, this simplicity has also made it easy for amateur developers to make some quick bucks from people who don’t understand the technology. Doing a quick and rough job, they often fail to properly develop a site that meets system standards, which leads to broken websites.
In the past, I have given quotes to clients for their websites, but they have chosen to go with a cheaper alternative. Each time this happens, they come back to me requesting for help fixing issues because either their web company is unreachable or the developers just don’t know how to solve the issue.
There are two reasons why this might happen. First, the web developer might be someone who you contacted locally but has no real understanding of web development beyond setting up a pre-made template on a WordPress site. On the other hand, the web design company may outsource their work to an amateur developer in another country. While this leads to a cheaper price, the quality of their work may not be worth the price tag.
When looking for a web designer, do your research! Just like hiring someone for a position within your company, a babysitter for your children, or a contractor for home renovations, you have to do your part. You’re investing hundreds and thousands of dollars, so why go into a business relationship blindly?
Here are the 7 things to do before choosing a web designer:
1. Review their experience and a portfolio
Having experience and a portfolio is a must! Ask about previous projects and take a look at the websites they’ve created. You’re not looking for a high number of projects, you’re looking for diverse and high quality projects done. If all the web projects look similar, then this may be a web company that recycles a theme for all their clients. As a result, your web developer may not have the knowledge to debug your site when issues arise because they only know how to use one theme – their theme.
2. Contact previous clients or read about their testimonies
Do a reference check and reach out to past clients. Get an idea of how their experience was. Did the web company explain things thoroughly in a way that their client could understand? Were they reachable when issues arose? Was the project finished on time? If the project was delayed, was there enough communication on their end? All of these questions are important to determine what your experience as a client may be like.
3. Make sure there’s a contract!
A good web design company should provide you a contract so you know exactly what to expect. In the contract, look for things like:
- A clear outline of what is in the project scope
- Project timeline and project milestones that are clearly laid out
- The number of revisions are allowed at different stages of the project
- How much would it cost if requests are beyond the project scope
- Training/documentation provided at project launch
- The cost breakdown
- Payment due dates (deposit, interim and final payments)
- Grace period (if any) after project launch if any issues arise
Contact me if you need assistance with this!
4. Request for training
Don’t skimp out on costs because you think that training is unnecessary. If you’re busy doing what you are good at, don’t waste time on reading on documentation to update the site. Most of my clients’ sites are simple enough that it takes only one hour for the training. One hour with me will give you the confidence in updating your website.
With my websites, you shouldn’t need to hire me to do content updates. The whole point of a WordPress website is so you (the client) can make the updates yourself – placing the power and autonomy in your hands.
5. You should have the option of full access
A web company should give you the option of having full access or partial access. If a novice user with full access changes a certain section of a WordPress site, it could end up breaking the site or undoing updates. This is why certain web companies limit access. However, the website belongs to you, so you should be able to request full access.
If your web company only gives you partial access (such as no access to appearance, plugins, users, and settings sections), then it’s their way to ask for more money when you want to do design/functionality updates. This is where training is important, so that I can advise you exactly which sections to edit and which to avoid.
6. Ask about different pricing options
A web company should be able to provide different pricing options. There are many different ways a site is built. Some take more time than others, some have more robust creative solutions, and some require a different management approach. A web designer should be able to offer a variety of options to meet your needs.
7. Make sure it’s someone you trust
Your web designer should be someone you trust. Don’t go for the web company because of a price tag. If a price tag is low, under $1000, find out why. As mentioned before, some of these low cost web companies outsource their staff, and aren’t actually available to troubleshoot and fix issues.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have worked for a non-profit organization that hired a popular web design company that targeted non-profit organizations. Their price tag was $60 000 for a custom CMS and I ended up sending 200+ issues to them to get fixed. With a cost like that, you shouldn’t be encountering so many problems.
These are the 7 things you need to do before choosing a web designer. With my own websites, I ensure that my projects are well-tested and easy to use. Additionally, I include a one month grace period so if issues arise, you can come back to me for support.
Have further questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.