So you’ve either come to the conclusion that your current website is out-dated, falling behind your competitors, or you’re a new business and want a new website. Maybe you’ve used another designer in the past but you’re not 100% happy with the results, or maybe you’ve “had a go” yourself at web designing and realise that you’ve reached your creative limit.
Whatever your story and where you’ve come from, you realise that maybe using a professional web designer is the best way forward. Now you have the task of who to use. There are loads of agencies and companies offering website design. Why use one over the other? The following ten questions should be considered on whoever you are engaging, to make sure you know who you are hiring, that they’re competent to do the work, and that you end up with the result you want!
1. Can I see examples of your work?
It’s important that whoever you engage with can show you examples of their recent websites built. Some web designers have a distinct style and if you see that through their designs, it’s quite probable that this is the same as how your website will look. The examples on their own website in their portfolio area might not be updated, so always ensure you have their latest websites to look at.
2. Who does the website work?
This might seem a silly question, but the person who you are talking to, will they work on the website themselves? Is it something that is farmed out to other agencies and freelancers? Who are they? Are they locally based? All the websites that Pink Fin design are designed by me, Pink Fin. I do work with a developer and a graphic designer who are locally based in Hampshire and are able to provide me with the skills that I don’t possess. We work as a mini-team on various projects.
3. What is the website building process?
It is important that you know how the website will be built and the various stages where you are able to have input and ensure the site looks and works how you want it to.
When I take on a new website project, we run through a set of questions to help me understand more about what you want, why you want it, your competitors, etc. From there I will mock up a home page to show you the proposed design and the structure of the page and navigation, etc. The idea of this is that we can use this as a design board, so we can make changes (sometimes a complete change), tweak colours, content, images, etc. Once the design is agreed we then move to creating the other pages and adding the content. The content can either be supplied by you or I can help with creating it. Once the site is designed, it is checked and any further changes made, before going live.
4. Do you use templates or is it bespoke designs?
A lot of designers use commercial templates. These are designs already built that they can then use and tweak colours, etc. to create your website. This is all well and good, but it has restrictions you should be aware of. Firstly, your site has been designed by someone who has no idea who you are and what you wanted – it’s a design that hundreds, if not thousands of other websites will look like. You are at the mercy to a certain degree of that template author. If they decide not to support that design anymore, then over time your website might stop working or become obsolete. Also, there will be restrictions on the page layouts. Maybe you can’t have the header laid out how you want, or you can’t have the images how you want them. These templates are designed to please the masses, but they aren’t 100% designed for you and what you want!
At Pink Fin we design 99% of all our websites from scratch – bespoke. They are all built uniquely for the client. There have been occasions where I use templates, but that would be for a budget restriction measure from the client and they know we are using a template. All other websites I create completely unique to you, the client.
5. How much will the whole project cost?
Taking on an agency or designer who can’t give you an exact price at the start of the project is like giving someone an empty cheque book. You need to know how much the project will cost and if that fits in with your budget.
During our initial meeting I will gather the information I need in order to put together a proposal for the new website. This will include a total price. This price will cover all the work required to create the new website and get the website live. There are some other considerations to take into account, like website hosting, domain names and any ongoing search engine optimisation work you might want to carry out in the future. I will put this information in the proposal so you have the complete picture of what website ownership and ongoing work would/might cost.
6. How long will it take to build and go live?
The time it will take to create your website will depend on the size and complexity of the site. It will also depend on when you are able to supply whatever content or company literature you are able to supply to me. If you have a specific time frame in mind then we can discuss the milestones to reach that deadline.
7. Can I make changes to the website?
Yes. All of the websites I create are content-managed. There is an administrator’s area on the website, allowing you to login, choose the relative page to edit and then edit that page, making changes to the text or pictures. If you want to blog on the website (latest news), then that is very straight forward to set up and easy to create and manage.
If you need help with the admin area, I can walk you through the admin area and have some simple instructions I can provide. It is fairly easy to use, not quite as easy as say writing in Microsoft Word, but not far off.
8. Will the Search Engines find the website?
Yes. Unless you ask Google and the other search engines not to crawl and index your website, then the site will be indexed. Having your website indexed in Google and coming up on page 1 of Google for a search term you expect to be found with are two very different things though. Depending on your industry and its competitiveness getting to the top of Google can be a tough and time consuming task. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an activity that a lot of companies contract out to experts to raise their profile and rankings in the search engines. If SEO is something you are interested in, then I’d be more than happy to discuss what it involves and the potential costs.
What I do on every client’s website though is make the website search engine friendly. Quite a bit of the initial SEO work that SEO agencies do, I actually include with my website designs. I make your website as search engine friendly as possible.
9. Can you help with domain name registering, emails and website hosting?
The whole world of domain names, email addresses, POP3, IMAP, Exchange, website hosting, etc. can seem a bit daunting. Some agencies are more helpful than others. What is important is that the domain name is always registered in your name/organisation and not the website agency. Some may give instructions on how to set up email addresses and how to log into your control panel for your web hosting (some don’t give you your own control panel at all).
At Pink Fin, I try to talk using plain English, no techy talk. I’m more than happy to help with acquiring your domain name and registering it in your name. I can talk you through email addresses, and will set them up on your computers/phones. I also offer website hosting and can discuss your options and it’s no problem if you want to work with any other web hosting company.
10. Who owns the website? Am I tied to you?
This is quite a biggy. Most clients think they own their website and they can do what they want with it. That makes sense right? Well be careful. A lot of agencies try to tie you in by using their own unique software to create your website and will happily host it for you. If you tried to move it elsewhere or ask another designer to make changes, you’ll find out that you can’t move it away and only they can make the changes/updates. It makes great business sense for them, but it’s not great for you! Even worse than that, some agencies effectively rent the website to you on a monthly basis. If you know that’s what you’re getting in to and it makes sense to you financially, then fine, but be aware that you never own the rights to that website.
At Pink Fin, once the website is paid for as agreed in the proposal, the website belongs to you, the client. Your website can be moved to another web host (or indeed it can be hosted elsewhere right from the start, not a problem). I don’t hold any customers ransom for anything. The website is yours and it’s yours to do what you want with it. If at anytime you wish to move away from me and my services, I am more than happy to help with the move and talk to whoever you want me to 🙂
If you would like to discuss a website project please contact me on 07748 307857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.