Interviewing prospective web designers is often a difficult task. Some candidates might be design rock stars but unable to develop the essential business features for your site, while other applicants will have portfolios filled with high-ranking sites that look like ghosts from the late 90s.
I have put together a checklist of 10 specific web design questions you need to ask when interviewing prospective designers. Listen to their responses to these essential questions to find the web designer that best fits your project’s unique needs.
Web Designer Interview Checklist
What other services do you offer?
Ideally, one designer or firm would handle all your design needs. See if your candidate is able to provide other services such as print, packaging, or branding.
2. Design Files
Will I own and be supplied with the original graphics files?
You need to acquire and own the original design files for your website. This becomes important if your designer ever goes out of business or if you choose to use a new designer. Make sure any designer is willing to sign over all ownership of their designs.
3. Stock Photography
Can you provide receipts for stock photos?
If your designer uses images and photos from resellers such as iStockphoto.com, be sure to either purchase the images yourself or get payment receipts from your designer and original files of those images.
Are you able to optimize my site for search engines?
SEO is a science in itself. A good designer will be able to make a site search engine friendly but will most likely not excel at optimization. You hit gold if you found a designer who can do both.
How will the site be updated?
Websites today need to have dynamic content to perform well in searches and remain relevant. A dynamic website should include a content management system (CMS) so it will be easy for you to update. Have the candidate describe their choice of CMS.
Will you be able to provide CMS training?
Some CMSs can be overwhelming to new users. Make sure your web designer can provide the training and support you will need to keep the content on your site fresh.
Can you incorporate analytics into my site?
Without analytic reports you have no quantifiable way to track your site’s effectiveness. More than just how many hits you are getting, you should know which search engines and specific keywords are sending the traffic to your site, how long visitors are staying on your site, and where they are losing interest.
8. Online Sales
Can you build my site to process orders online?
Setting up custom shopping cart applications, coding payment gateways, managing merchant accounts, and processing orders is a very technical process that is most often beyond the capabilities of designers. Adding these features to your site usually requires coordination with a third-party programmer.
Do you charge by the hour or by the project?
Get your site quoted as an all-inclusive project. Know exactly what is included. Hourly rates typically apply as you request design alterations after the initial design phase is approved. Be sure to agree on a limit if your candidate insists on working at an hourly rate.
Do you have any questions for me?
This is possibly the most important question you can ask a designer because it allows you to see what their approach to the project is. Any designer worth hiring should have at least a few clarifying questions focused on the business goals of the site. The more questions, the better.