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  • Writer's pictureKari Sorensen

12 Best Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Website Designer

Updated: Jun 12

website designer
Website Design Expert Kari Sorensen provides her best tips for small business owners when hiring a website designer

Selecting the right website designer for your business is crucial. Your website is often the first impression potential customers will have of your brand, so it’s essential to ensure it’s professional, functional, and aligned with your business goals. You also want to consider interpersonal skills and personalities, as you will be working closely with this person (or team) during the website design process.

To help you make an informed decision, here are the top questions you should ask when interviewing a website designer.

1. Who Owns the Website After It Launches?

Clarify ownership rights upfront. You should retain full ownership of the website and all its contents once it’s launched. This ensures you have the freedom to make changes, move to another host, or hire a different designer in the future without restrictions.

"We have met with clients in the past that pay a couple of hundred dollars per month to their website designer. They do not own their website and they feel trapped by these fees. Once they stop paying, their website will be unpublished, making all their website marketing efforts pointless"

Protect yourself from scams by researching designers before hiring them
Protect yourself from scams by researching designers before hiring them

2. Are they Licensed & Insured?

When it comes to building your business's online presence, hiring a licensed and insured website designer is crucial. A licensed designer ensures that you are working with a professional who meets industry standards and has the necessary qualifications to deliver quality work. Insurance, on the other hand, provides protection against potential liabilities, such as errors, omissions, or damages that might occur during the project. This level of professionalism and security not only safeguards your investment but also gives you peace of mind, knowing that your project is in capable and responsible hands. Don't take risks with your business—choose a licensed and insured designer to ensure a smooth, reliable, and professional website development experience.

Would you hire a taxi drive if you knew they were not licensed or insured? Consider protecting yourself by hiring a website designer & builder who is properly licensed and insured.

3. Are There Any Monthly or Yearly Mandatory Fees?

All websites will require yearly hosting and domain fees and it is important to ask if you pay these directly to the web hosting platform or if the designer pays these for you with an added-on fee. In addition, some designers charge ongoing recurring fees for maintenance, hosting, or updates. Understand the cost structure fully. Make sure you’re clear on what’s included in these fees and if they are mandatory. This will help you budget effectively and avoid unexpected expenses.

"Kinship Creative LLC does not charge mandatory fees and we have clients pay their hosting fees directly, saving them hundreds of dollars per year!" – Kari, owner of Kinship Creative LLC

Finding a platform you are comfortable in provides you opportunity to edit your future website and navigate it easily
Finding a platform you are comfortable in provides you opportunity to edit your future website and navigate it easily

4. What Platform Do You Use and Why?

Different platforms offer various features and benefits. Common options include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and custom HTML/CSS solutions. Ask the designer why they prefer a particular platform and how it aligns with your needs. Their answer should demonstrate their understanding of the platform’s strengths and how it can support your business goals.

You may even consider playing around on the platform and contacting that platforms customer support. Try out their virtual app, features and yearly hosting fees. Some platforms can feel confusing and are not as user-friendly.

Kinship Creative prefers Wix for numerous reasons, but our top favorite feature is their access to a live customer support representative 24/7. Have a question about the front or back end of the website post-launch? You can either contact us or call Wix for excellent support!

5. Do Not Fall for Scams. Cheaper Is Not Always Better. Always Reference Check before Sending a Deposit.

Beware of prices that seem too good to be true. Cheap services often result in subpar quality or can be scams. Conduct reference checks and ask to speak with past clients. Check out their portfolio and see if those websites are still live. Never send a deposit without a video call, contract, and researching the company first. This due diligence can save you from scams and ensure you’re hiring a reputable professional.

Always look through a portfolio to see sample work for an idea of their quality and style
Always look through a portfolio to see sample work for an idea of their quality and style

6. Can I See Your Portfolio and Testimonials?

A designer’s portfolio will give you a sense of their style, creativity, and technical skills. Look for diversity in their work and see if they have experience with businesses similar to yours. Testimonials from previous clients can also provide insight into their reliability, work ethic, and ability to deliver on promises. Try to get a sense of how many websites they publish a year and when their last project was posted. Look for any technical or grammatical errors in their work.

Also - a designer’s own website should be a showcase of their best work. Examine it for aesthetics, usability, and performance. Do they explain their process clearly? Are they able to keep your attention with their design? If their own site isn’t impressive, it might be a red flag regarding the quality of work they’ll provide for you.

If a website designer does not have a portfolio or their own website, this could be a sign of a potential scam. Avoid hiring someone who cannot supply sample work.
designer with colors, textures and more
Branding Services with colors, textures, and different elements, varied on industry and service

7. Do You Provide Branding and Marketing Design Support?

A cohesive brand identity is vital for any business. Ask if the designer offers branding support, such as logo design, color scheme development, and font selection. This can help create a unified look across all your marketing materials. If you need multiple items designed (ie: business cards, menus, etc), ask if they offer bundle packages, helping you save money as you sign on with a new designer.

8. What Is and Is Not Included?

Transparency is key. Ask for a detailed breakdown of what’s included in the design package. Are there additional costs for elements like custom graphics, e-commerce capabilities, or advanced SEO features? Knowing this upfront will help you avoid surprises later on. Some professionals specialize in design or development, while others offer both services. Having a single point of contact for both design and build can streamline the process and ensure a cohesive final product. Ensure the designer you choose can handle both aspects or has a reliable team in place.

Some designers offer add-on services such as SEO optimization, third-party integrations (HoneyBooks, Square, MailChimp, Instagram, etc), or internal email marketing setup. These added services can enhance your website’s functionality and effectiveness. Make sure to ask what’s included with the cost quoted, what extra fees there might be, and how it can benefit your business. What about revisions, custom infographics or other design elements; are these included or are they a la carte? Does their service include copywriting or a guide for you to follow to write your own? Most designers do not write the website copy for you, and might offer to connect you with a professional copywriter. While one company may sound cheaper, you might not be compare apples to apples. Having a breakdown of what is and is not included will help you make the right decision for your website investment overtime.

At Kinship Creative, we will guide you throughout the copywriting process, digging deep into your target audience. We also utilize our marketing education and background to help design a website that performs and looks beautiful.

9. SEO, ADA, Legal Pages. What Is Included?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is crucial for your website’s visibility. Additionally, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance ensures your site is accessible to all users. Legal Pages like Privacy Policy and Terms of Service are also essential. While website designers should not be writing or offering legal advice on your Legal Pages, it is important to ask if there is a fee for them to build these pages. Verify if these elements are included in the design package.

Website Legal Pages and Legal Advise
Always consider seeking professional legal advise when writing your website's legal pages

10. Images, Where Do You Source Them?

High-quality images can significantly impact your website’s appeal. Ask where the designer sources images and if there are additional costs for purchasing stock photos or hiring a photographer. Ensure that all images used are legally obtained and appropriately licensed.

11. Consider their Personality, Follow-Up, Communication and Availability

You will be working very closely with your website designer and it is crucial to feel comfortable with them. Get a sense of their personality during the interview. Do they seem accommodating, professional, curious, and open to feedback? Test their response time by sending them a text. Ask what their availability is and if this is their full-time position or a side hustle. Do they seem well-versed in the topics of design, business, and marketing? Was their proposal well written and designed (after all, this is a prime example of their work)? What is their project timeline typically like? Another aspect to consider about their personality is do they present themselves as professional on their website and social media. It might sound silly, but if they are putting YOUR business' name & website on their digital portfolio/website/socials, you can be linked with their style and personality. If they have edgy imagery, post with unprofessional slang or cuss words, consider if this is a company you want representing your business.

12. What Post-Launch Support Do You Offer?

Once the website is live, you may need ongoing support for updates, troubleshooting, or additional features. Clarify what kind of post-launch support is available, including response times and any associated costs. Reliable post-launch support can ensure your website continues to perform optimally.

Kinship Creative website design
With Kinship Creative LLC, feel confident - you are in excellent hands!

By asking these questions, you can gauge the expertise, reliability, and suitability of a website designer for your project. Remember, investing in a professional, high-quality website is crucial for your business’s online success. Take your time to choose the right designer who understands your vision and can help you achieve your goals.

For more tips on website design and digital marketing, stay tuned to our blog! If you have any questions or need personalized advice, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help your business thrive online. Which tip(s) did you find most helpful?

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