5 Valuable Questions When Choosing a Web Designer

Video transcript:

If you’re planning a new website, how do you know which web designer or agency should get your business? I’ve got the 5 questions that will help you decide.

Hey guys, I’m Wes McDowell from The Deep End, and I know that one of the biggest concerns when getting a new website is who do you want to trust with the job? With so many variables, choosing the right web designer or agency can be overwhelming, but there are a few questions that will help you clarify things a bit, and let you know who’s likely to bring real value, and a really good ROI to your project.

Ok, so first up, you want to ask: How much time is spent on research and discovery. I can’t tell you how important a thorough discovery process is to any web project. And these days, almost every web designer’s website will talk about how they are results-driven, but then you ask them how much time is spent on it, and they might come back to you saying we have a kickoff discovery meeting, and that’s about 30 minutes to an hour.

That’s not enough time. The discovery process needs to figure out as much as possible about your business, your customers, AND your competition. This is the phase where we find those little a-ha moments that give us the best ideas of all the clever ways we can find your customers online, and what needs to be included on the site to make them take action once they’re there.

And that can really only happen with a more longform conversation, or several conversations, and hours or research into your niche or market. So the answer you’re looking for is several hours at least with you and your team, and anywhere from 5-10 additional hours researching on their own.

Ok, and the next question is related to the first one, and that is: what kind of research will you do about our customers? This one is really important, because the starting point for any web designer should be knowing WHO the website is for. And that’s not you, its for your customers. So when you ask them this question, they should tell you that they would want to either see your customer avatars, or help you create those if you don’t already have them.

And if you’re unfamiliar with a customer avatar, it’s really just marketing speak for a fictional character that represents your ideal customer. (like this. Or this.)

Without that important customer information, they’ll be going into the project blind. At a minimum, they’ll need to know what your customer’s biggest concerns are that your business can help them with, what potential objections they might have to doing business with you, and ultimately what will motivate them to become a customer. There’s lots of ways they can research this, with customer surveys, or even going to sites like Yelp or Amazon and looking at relevant reviews. Either for your business specifically, or even your competitors.

Next on our list: How do you approach the design process? And this is a bit of an open-ended question, but you’re looking for 2 key phrases here. You want to listen for customer, and usability focused. You want to end up hiring a web designer who understands that the site needs to be designed to be easy to use — for — you guessed it, your customers. So as you listen to how they approach the design of a project, you definitely wanna hear that come up early in the conversation.

Alright, number four on our list: How will my project be managed? Project management can not only mean the difference between staying on schedule or not, but it also really impacts how well all the pieces fit together. In other words, without some type of project management in place, the site’s goals can get lost along the way, compromising the success of the project.

Now ideally, you’ll want to hear a few things. You want them to talk about a specific program like basecamp or asana that keeps everything neatly in one place. You also want to hear them talk about regularly scheduled sync meetings. One of the biggest turning points for me as a web strategist was when we started weekly sync meetings with our clients.

Those consistent meetings increased productivity in a pretty major way. It’s allowed us to keep things moving much faster, just because every week we can go over any blockers, and let our clients know what’s being worked on, what’s finished, and what we’re still waiting on from them. So again, ideally, you want to know they use some type of project management program, and that they will meet with you to update you on a regular basis.

But your second favorite response should just be some type of definitive answer that tells you they do have some type of project management process in place. If they fumble with that question, you can probably expect a lot of random email strings, and things getting lost throughout the project.

Ok, we’re almost done, so I’ll go ahead and give you number 5, and that is: what services do you include? Now I’m not gonna tell you what you need to hear from them, but you’ll definitely want to know the answer. If they’re including everything, but you don’t need everything, are you overpaying? Or what if they only provide design?

Do you need to go somewhere else for the other parts of the project? At the end of the day, its all about what you’re comfortable with, but keep in mind, the more you need to go to multiple vendors for different parts of the project, the more project management will fall on you. In a perfect world, I’d recommend you work with a team who can provide the basic web strategy, the messaging, or copy that goes on the site, and the design and development.

You may also want someone who can handle the digital marketing that drives traffic to the site once its finished. But here’s the catch: you only want all of this from one provider if they’re really good at all those skills. If you’re dealing with one freelancer, they probably won’t be up to date enough on everything to be effective at everything, so this really applies more to an agency or a team.

Ok that’s the list, for more tips like these, just subscribe to our channel right here. And if you’d like to speak with me to see what we can do about getting you set up with a new strategy-based website, you can go to thedeependdesign.com. I’m Wes McDowell with The Deep End, see ya next time.

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