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Toronto-based boutique agency specializing in web design and development, identity and print design.
Jun 10

10 questions to ask when you’re hiring a web designer

Not all web designers are created equal – you just need to take a quick stroll through the internet to see that. But how do you separate the great ones from the not so great? Here are 10 questions to ask when you’re hiring someone for your site.

How big is your team? The right answer depends what you need. We’re not saying a solo freelancer can’t handle the job, but if you’ve got a big ecommerce site that needs a lot of functionality, a bigger firm can probably handle the scope better than a one-man/woman show.

Do you handle all your work in-house? If you’re hiring your design firm based on their portfolio, having them farm out your work may not net you the result you want. Plus, a lot of designers can charge rock-bottom rates because they outsource work overseas. We’re not saying that’s a bad thing necessarily, but it’s important to have transparency and trust.

Will you build my site to be responsive? A responsive site is one that works across all devices. As more and more users access the web from their phones (some sources say it’s as high as 50%!), and Google algorithms are ranking responsive sites higher, a website that doesn’t work perfectly on a phone will push you down in the rankings and alienate your customers.

Can I update my site myself? Having control over the content on your own site is ultimately cheaper, especially in climate where constant updates are necessary for good search engine rankings and customer expectations for rich content. Find out what kind of CMS (content management system) they use, and if it’s something that’s easy to operate. Having to go back to your designer for every little change is fine if you don’t have time to do it yourself, but it’s more expensive – and generally slower – than doing it yourself.

What’s your pricing structure? Do they charge hourly or by project? If they bill you hourly, will they alert you if they’ve gone over their initial quote? What are their hosting and maintenance fees?

Will I have access to my design files? If you decide to part ways with your design firm, can you take your files with you? A number of designers consider the work proprietary and won’t release it to you. If that’s the case, you’ll have to start from scratch.

Who will be managing my project? Do they have a dedicated project manager to ensure timelines are met, feedback is communicated, content is organized, etc. A lot of designers who freelance have some basic project management skills, but if your project is too big for one person to design and manage, a PM is a good bet.

Can the design be updated easily? If you need to add a new product section or include an interactive element on your home page, can that be done with minimal hassle? If not, your site might have to be redesigned to incorporate changes.

Can I talk to your past clients? It’s probably not enough to just look at a portfolio. Pretty designs are great, but you want to know if they’re meeting the needs of the business. And it’s also a good opportunity to ask how the firm / designer was to work with, what the experience was like, etc.

What does the design include? Ask for details. How many revisions are included in the price? How many meetings and conversations? Is SEO included? Do they provide content services?

Every design firm is different. Asking the right questions will help you find the one with the style, working approach and pricing that best fits your needs.

Thinking about a new design for your site? Feel free to ask us these questions!