What to expect when you hire a website designer
So you’re about to enter unchartered territory in the field of hiring a web pro?
This is a major investment in your business, and a real turning point for a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs. You will no longer be the newbie, DIY entrepreneur. Getting your business set up to look legit online is an exciting move forward for every business.
Figuring out how the heck to set up your online presence is no easy task, thankfully a web designer can make the whole process a lot easier and more enjoyable for you. So you can get back to other important things … like you know, running your business, which Imma bet is, you know, a full-time job in itself.
So what should you expect when working with a web designer? I’ll let you know! Every design studio does things in their own manner, but there’s a few constants you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
While I’ll admit, this isn’t the most thrilling topic in the world, knowing how most design studios do things will help you pick the right designer.
Every designer will have you make a deposit payment to book your place with them. This ranges normally between 25% - 50% of the whole website design price. Depending on the designer, you might book a few weeks or a few months out, depending on their current workload.
I think it’s safe to say 90& of clients wants to start their website ‘as soon as possible,’ when they inquire with a designer. But do know that the designers who are really in-demand tend to have some wait time between when you book and when your project starts. If you want to lock down one of these coveted designers, take a peek on their website now to see how far in advanced you need to book, and plan when you inquire accordingly.
A lot of designers then have you pay the remainder (50% - 75%) payment when the project is completed. Granted, it’s not unusual either for designers to split up the remainder payment and have you make two smaller payments, one when they actually start the project and one when it’s completed.
For custom websites, I’ve only ever seen designers with strict no refund policies.
Your designer should have you sign a contract before you begin working together. It will outline exactly whats included in your package (number of pages, any added functionality of your site, turnaround time, payment terms, etc). This protects both you and your designer, and keeps everything clear about what you’re getting, and for how much. So be sure to only work with a designer who has you sign a contract. This way you’ll know you won’t get into any sticky situations over what was expected.
Oh, and be sure to… you know, read the contract before you sign. I’m always happy to clarify things for clients who have questions about our contract. Included in many web design contracts is that the designers accreditation (Site designed by X) is in the footer of every page, and must stay there. For some clients who want their website super clean, and would rather not have that there, it’s sometimes possible to pay to have it removed. This is just one example of why reading the contract is important.
Length of project
The length of the project really ranges depending on the size of the project. To give you a ballpark idea though, most average-sized websites (5 - 10 pages), take between 4 - 8 weeks to complete. If you choose to have your website built on WordPress, it could take a bit longer as WordPress is a tricky system to work with. Generally there’s no guaranteed completion date, your project is finished when your rounds of revision are completed. The faster you work to get your content and desired edits back to your designer, the faster you’ll head through the design process.
There are a select few studios who have changed up their process (this one included) to taking on only 1 client at a time, knocking out a full website in 2 weeks, with a guaranteed completion date. This process is really appealing to a lot of clients, but it also requires clients to give feedback quickly and have all their website content prepared before the project begins. So there’s benefits to both processes, it just depends on your preferred timeline and if you can manage to respond quickly to give site feedback.
All designers offer the opportunity to provide revisions (or edits) to your website. 2 - 3 rounds of revisions is the norm thats included in a website design package. Generally, designers will allow you to have more rounds of revisions if you’d still like some tweaks after your included rounds of revisions are up, and these would be at an additional cost.
A lot of WordPress designers will offer a monthly maintenance plan, which is well-worth investing in as when problems arise with WordPress, a solid understanding of your websites back end and coding is usually necessary. For Squarespace websites, designers generally don’t offer on-going support plans as the Squarespace team takes care of any updates and problems.
Many designers will add an education component to your website package, so you have a fair knowledge of how your website works and how to make edits and updates over time. Some do this in the form of a pre-recorded video on an example website, others (my studio included) will do a live screenshared lesson with the client while on their own website. I also record these lessons and make the video available to clients so they can go back and re-watch how to do something down the line if they forget how to do it.
If being confident with your website and being able to swap out photos, change prices, and make tweaks by yourself is important to you, be sure to pick a designer that includes some education aspect in their website packages.
Website designers tend to require you to have your site content (copy and photos) prepared before you get started on your site. Others will work on your site without it and insert ‘example’ content (Lorem impseum and placeholder photos).
I’ve had experience designing websites both ways, and I must say, I think clients get a significantly better website in the end when they have their real content used in the design. If you use fake content, its hard to give feedback on a website that doesn’t look ‘real,’ plus then once the design is ‘done,’ the client still needs to go in and swap out all of the content for the real stuff, which is really just unnecessary work that could have been done by the designer. When you use real content in your design, once the website is finished, its really truly finished and ready to launch.
I feel so strongly that my clients get a better end product when we design using real content that I now only start on a clients website when their content is prepared.
There you go! Your a web design pro now.
If you're ready to take the leap and like the idea of a site knocked out in just 2 weeks, well then get in touch gal!