10 Questions You Should Ask Your Web Developer Before You Hire Them

  • By Monique Morrison
  • 17 Mar, 2016

If you’re looking for a new web developer to redo your current website or make you a new one, there are many more aspects to consider besides what colours they will use or the text they’ll put on your “About” page.

You may not understand the technical aspects that go into your web design, but your designer should be willing to discuss their process in a way that you understand and demonstrate how they’ve gotten real results for previous clients. Here are 10 questions you should ask you web developer that will give you an idea of whether they’re as thorough and reliable as they may claim to be:

1.     Do you get real results for clients?

Although looking at other websites designed by the company you’re considering may give you an idea of their graphic design skills, it won’t necessarily tell you if these websites are working in the way they’re supposed to. If you want to hire a designer that gets results for businesses, instead of just looking through their design portfolio, you can skim their published case studies. If you see something along the lines of, “The site redesign for client XYZ helped them increase their online sales by 24%,” this shows that they’ve actually produced quantifiable results. If you can’t find any case studies, you can ask your potential designer directly about the results of their websites. If they’re legit, they’ll happily provide examples of what their websites have done for businesses.

2.     Will you analyze my current traffic before making design decisions?

If you are looking into a new web design, there is probably a lot that you think needs to be changed on your current website, but there may be parts of it that are actually working well. This is what analyzing your current site’s metrics will tell your web designer. They should be checking, for example, if your blog has great visitor loyalty, or if one of your pages has a lower bounce rate than others (meaning that customers don’t immediately leave your website after viewing that particular page). When your web designer analyzes your site’s metrics, they’ll gain more information about what’s working and what’s not in order to better plan the redesign.

3.     How much do you charge for web design?

Obviously, price is something you need to consider when looking at a website redesign. However, if you’re just looking for the cheapest option, you may get what you paid for – a website that doesn’t perform. Results-oriented websites take time and expertise to plan and design. So, if you find that your web design is cheap, you may be able to assume that your designer is planning to take shortcuts. When your designer provides you with a price, you can also ask them what that quote includes, for example, does it include written content and a high converting email newsletter subscription box?

4.     How much time do you spend planning and researching?

You may think a designer that just dives in and finishes your website very quickly is ideal; however, designing a website that produces results does require planning and research. This may include a basic analysis of your business, as well as evaluating your competitors and market. Before they start designing, it’s important to make sure your designer schedules in time for this very important step. So, how much time should be spent on this? In my work at Jeronamo, I slot anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of research per project. This may seem like a lot of time, but planning content, structure, delivery and overall website functionality based on a business’ needs and industry takes time.

5.     Do you create wireframes before designing websites?

This may sound very technical, but it is actually pretty simple, and something any good web designer will incorporate into their web designs. Website wireframes are visual representations of where the sections of your site, like content and graphic elements, will be placed. Those elements are not included yet, but are indicated with boxes. So, why does it matter if a web designer uses wireframes? It’s actually very important that web designers plan out where content will be placed, as the organization of your site greatly impacts results. For example, placing your newsletter subscription box high up on the right column, as opposed to at the bottom of your site, has been shown to increase subscription rates quite a bit.

6.     Do you create easy-to-use websites?

When designing a website, it’s important that your designer takes into consideration much more than the site's aesthetic appeal. If your visitors are fleeing in frustration because they can’t find what they’re looking for, it’s pretty obvious that those visitors are not going to be eager to become your customers. A results-oriented designer will understand website usability and how visitors are likely to navigate websites so they can cater to your customers and help you achieve your goals, including gaining subscribers, leads and sales. As well as asking your prospective designer this question, you can also visit their portfolio to see if you find their previous websites easy to navigate. If you don’t, chances are your potential customers aren’t going to have a good experience navigating either.

7.     Do you do market research before creating websites?

You may want a new site for yourself, but if you’re running a business, your website is really for your customers. Your website should give your customers the information they want, right when they’re looking for it. For a web designer to effectively cater your website to your customers, they need to do some research into who your customers are and what they want to know, not just leap into the design assuming that all customers are the same and influenced by the same type of design.

8.     Do you also do competitive research?

As well as researching your customers’ wants and needs, your web designer should also be researching your competitors. Often, good results don’t come directly from optimizing your site, but from doing things better than your competitors. So it’s important for your web designer to know who else is out there and what their websites include.

9.     Do you offer conversion and usability testing?

A good web designer won’t just design your website and cross their fingers that it does what it’s supposed to; they’ll test it for you. Every page should be optimized for results and tested to make sure it’s doing its job, for example, increasing subscription rates to your newsletter or encouraging customers to buy from you. Instead of guessing what version of a page is going to produce the best results, a results-oriented designer will do tests. To test a page, a web designer will create two pages and pit them against each other using A/B or multivariate testing. The page that does the best is the one displayed on your website for now, but it should still be tested regularly to ensure maximum conversion rates. Before you sign on with a web designer, you should ask if they perform this regular follow up to ensure your website is doing its job – getting conversions.

10. How is your design going to help me with my business goals?

Goal setting is important in most successful endeavors from dieting to starting a business. You should look at your web design project with the same focus you approach other tasks with. Before you launch into a web development project, you should figure out what you want your website to do for your business by setting realistic goals. A results-oriented designer will likely help you come up with your goals, but if they don’t, here are some goals that may work for you:

·       We’d like to increase the overall revenue generated from our website by 20%.
·       We’d like to increase the orders from our PPC campaign to our landing page by 20%.
·       We’d like to get 20% more newsletter subscribers within the next 6 months.
·       We’d like to increase our average order value by 20%.
·       We would like to reduce our bounce rate on page X by 20%.

Although setting clear goals along these lines is useful, sometimes your goals might not be as easily measured, for example, increasing awareness of your brand, spreading a message, or increasing authority. However, whether you are looking for a measurable return on investment or intangible results, choosing a designer that understands your goals and how to accomplish them through web design is a wise choice.

We hope this blog has helped you understand what skills and knowledge your web designer should bring to the table and has taken some of the stress out of the research phase of your web design project. Whichever designer you choose, we wish you a pleasant experience, as well as creativity and (most importantly) a high-conversion rate on your new site.

If you have any questions about this blog, or about web design in general, please feel free to contact us .
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