Beyond the build – Key questions for your website designer

A website can be a valuable asset for many businesses and organisations hoping to expand their online presence. But choosing a web designer to create your website can be daunting. This decision can make all the difference to whether the experience is enjoyable and easy, or tedious and ongoing.

In considering this article I have taken on board some of the pains we have seen new clients experience with their previous web developers. More often than not this is beyond just the website build. That is, they have a complete and functional website, maybe not yet launched, but they have been left to work out the rest of the ‘puzzle’ themselves. They feel unsupported, often because they find out the proposal or scope of the project does not extend past the website build. This leaves them hesitant and weary, but wanting to start fresh.

As the client you need to be clear from the outset on who is responsible for each stage of the website process. You need to be sure that your web designer is on board to guide you through the entire process, not to simply build your website and leave you to it.

The following questions can help you better understand how the process will work for you with your chosen website designer, and how you will collaborate with them.

What about the words?

Content should be covered upfront. Planning your website’s content in the early stages of the project is important, so that your site is designed to suit your content.

Many clients and designers finalise the design of the website before sparing a thought to content. But without the right words your website will not do what you want it to do. The design and the content of your site should go hand-in-hand. Ensure you ask:

  • Who is responsible for creating the website content?
  • Will they provide a content plan to outline the purpose of each page and the content required?
  • Will they review your website content for suitability and check that it communicates effectively?
  • Do they have a copywriter on board? What is the additional cost?
  • Will the website content be optimised for search engine visibility (Google)?


How can I update my website?

Consider how regularly you will be updating your website, and whether you are comfortable making website updates with training and guidelines provided.

To make updates yourself a website content management system (CMS) is required within the website build. Once the web designer has built the website you need to be sure you are comfortable making changes to your website – change the words, update products, add news, etc.

Ensure you ask:

  • Will they provide you with a Content Management System so you can make basic changes yourself?
  • Will they provide training and training guidelines? The guidelines are essential especially if you are not updating the website often, so in months or years ahead you have a reference guide.
  • What ongoing support will they provide if you have difficulty? What is the additional cost?


How will my website fit into the marketing mix?

Your website is a strong marketing tool, and is often the central location for your business and first point of contact prospective customers will have with your business. Your website needs to be consistent with your overall marketing plan, and in many businesses your marketing efforts should lead back to your website. Your web designer needs to understand how the website will fit in with your business objectives. Ensure you ask:

  • How will you measure the success of your marketing? Will your website designer set up Google Analytics or a concierge service for you?
  • Do you have ‘calls to action’ on your website that are aligned with your business objectives? i.e. to increase online bookings you need a ‘Book Now’ repeated throughout the site
  • Have they considered your overall business branding objectives when designing the look and feel of your website? Does it capture your businesses personality?


What about ongoing support and maintenance?

The web world is always changing. It is important to understand how your web developer will support you through these changes.

Your website may require version updates ongoing. These updates, fix bugs, add new features, improve performance, and enhance existing features to stay up to date with changing web and industry standards. If your website is not updated your website security is at risk, and you may miss new features and enhancements. Ensure you ask:

  • What is the level of after sales care and support?
  • Are website software updates needed?
  • Who is responsible for the ongoing updates?
  • If they are updating – are the costs included within their proposal?


If you understand ownership, responsibilities and how you will collaborate with your web designer, and ask the right questions when you are choosing your web designer, you will be on the right steps to securing the right designer for your web project.