The process of designing your new website could be an absolute dream come true, or an ongoing nightmare.

Who you pick to help you along the way and build your site for you will make all the different to both the end product, and how much you enjoy the site build process.

So today I’m here to help get you all educated to ensure you’re set to pick out the perfect designer who will get you website-launching and having a blast along the way!

I have 9 smart questions you should ask your potential designer, as well as 2 red flags to look out for.

Let’s hop in shall we?

9 smart questions to ask your potential website designer

First, I’ll start with the one questions you should ask yourself first, then move on to the ones you should ask your potential designer!

1. Ask yourself if their portfolio fits your style & vibe

Different people in the world have different styles, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It does however mean that you’ll be trying to fit a circle into a square come design time if you and your designer are off in style taste. Having different styles are one of those things that are hard to work with, both for the designer and for the client.

So when picking your designer, be sure to give their portfolio a browse, and ask yourself, if your site came out having a similar style and vibe, would you be happy?

Most designers don’t show all of their work on their portfolio page, just a selection of their favorite work, which they’d like to continue attracting more of.

So you can take a fair guess that whatever your designer is showing in their portfolio, that’s their true style.

If both of your styles mesh together, perfect!

If splashes of hot pink paired with a glittery logo makes you roll your eyes, and that’s the type of work in the designers portfolio you’re looking at, move right along to one that fits you better.

2. Ask your designer about their site build process

The answer your potential designer gives to this question is a dead giveaway if you’ve landed on a newbie designer or a long-time pro.

Designers who have been at it for a while will know their web design process like the back of their hand, and will recite it perfectly from memory.

After all, they’ve gone through it a zillion times both telling potential clients about it, and completing work through that process.

While the process itself might not be the most wildly interesting thing in the world, know that having a designer who has a plan will make your life all that much easier, as they guide you through things step by step, especially if website building is new territory for you.

Also, a designer with a tested and perfected process will ensure you’re kept on the ball providing the content and edits they need on time, so they can complete your project by your scheduled launch date, which is of course what you want!

If your potential designer has their process down, and can tell you all the milestones along the way of the site build perfectly from memory, you know you’ve landed on someone who knows what they’re doing.

3. Ask your designer if they have a past clients you can speak with

Testimonials and reviews are generally pretty reliable, but if you really want to know that your potential designer is legit, feel free to ask to speak with a past client.

Of course, the designer will give you the person they most enjoyed working with who they know will rave about them, so expect if they give you details of a past client, you’re likely going to hear great things.

Granted, if they don’t have anyone to put you in touch with or the person they do put you in touch with doesn’t give all that fabulous of an impression of their project, don’t wait a moment and instead move right along to your next designer prospect.

4. Ask when their next available design date is

If they say tomorrow, keep moving.

While yes, I know you want your website done ASAP, but designers worth their salt generally have a wait time of at least a week or two or three or more before they’ll be able to work with you.

Pro tip: If you want a fab designer, plan in advance. Start looking for one at least a month before you want your project to start!

5. Ask if they outsource any of the work

You’ll have to make your own judgement call on the answer you get to this one. Sometimes outsourcing can be a good thing, sometimes its not.

Often web designers are also asked for illustrations, custom made fonts, logo designs, copywriting, and custom web development. It’s extremely rare, in fact almost impossible, that one designer is skilled in all of these areas.

If you ask your designer for a whole variety of things, not just the site design, it’s likely they’ll bring on help. Some designers know what they’re strengths and weaknesses are, and will outsource the stuff that’s just not their forte to trusted business partners, which is normal.

Other design studio’s will outsource the majority of a project to a 3rd world country to be completed.

Of course, there’s a difference there.

So be sure to ask if things are outsourced and who/where to. Also check out the site of the other business to ensure it looks legit.

One quick note, if time is of the essence for your web design project, bringing many parties into a project can slow things down a lot, so avoid going with a designer who outsources if that’s your situation.

6. Ask about maintenance after the design is complete

There’s no right or wrong answer here, different studio’s do things differently, and different clients have different preferences.

If you’re someone who really wants to have ownership over their site, and wants to update/edit things like right now, go for a web design platform that’s easy to update and maintain over time yourself, as well as a studio that has an educational component as part of their web design package.

If you’d rather shoot off an email with edits/updates and wait a few days to have them polished up by someone else (and you have the budget to pay for that every time you need a site edit), then go for a studio that offers long-term maintenance packages.

7. Ask how many revisions/round of edits are included

What happens if the first draft version of your site comes back and you’re not completely in love? You can request edits/revisions.

The normal number of revision rounds is 2, sometimes 3.

After that if you still want more, you’ll generally pay hourly for the additional edits you’d like, until they’re complete.

So be sure to also ask what your designers hourly rate is too. Hourly rates for designers range from $50 – $150/hr.

8. Ask what their record is for on-time site launches

Not down for a run-on project? Ask what the designer’s record is like for completing projects by their scheduled finish date.

9. Ask if you will receive the original files

Often times your web designer will use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to make custom graphics for your site that aren’t possible to be made in your website building platform.

You absolutely want to have these files, both the completed ones and the original Illustrator or Photoshop file. It will make your life all the more easy in the long run when you want to change something.

Even if you don’t know how to use Illustrator or Photoshop, still get the file in case your designer goes on vacay, takes up another job or heaven forbid the worst happens. (I’ve spoke to someone the other week who’s designer passed away.)

Basically, you just want to have the file so you can give it to someone else to edit if need be to be safe.

If you get a ‘no’ on this question, move along to another designer prospect.

Alright, so now you’ve taken note of all those questions to ask, right? Or if your cozy in bed and a pen and paper aren’t handy right now, be sure to Pin this for later!

2 red flags you should keep an eye out for

If you notice any of these, RUN in the other direction!

1. They don’t ask you to sign a contract

Contracts protect both you and your designer, so you for sure want to have one!

A contract between you and your designer should spell out what you’ll be paying, when you’ll be paying it, who owns what licenses, what the deliverables are, etc.

As you can imagine, this can help you out equally as much as it does your designer. If you were promised 2 rounds of revisions, and only got 1, you can have your contract to refer back to.

Pro tip: Sometimes for smaller bits of work for say a couple tweaks for a few hundred, designers won’t have you sign a contract just because its not worth the effort. If you’re putting down quite a thousand or more to work with them however, a contract should absolutely be expected.

2. They have No testimonials or reviews

Not one person has said something good about your potential new designer? Not a good sign. Or, someone named Joe, who has no website link or photo or last name said something good? Also not a good sign.

Check out to see both that they have testimonials and reviews and then also take a little gut check to see if they feel legit.

Let’s recap quickly! Here’s the smart questions you want to ask, you prepared business owner you!

Pssst – You have full permission & my encouragement to copy these into a note to have on hand for when you chat with your designer prospects!

  1. (Ask yourself) Do I love their style? Does their portfolio fit my vibe?

  2. What’s your web design process like?

  3. Do you have any past clients I can speak with about their experience working with you?

  4. What’s your next available design date?

  5. Do you outsource any of your work? Where/who to?

  6. Do you help with maintenance of the site after the site build is complete, or do you offer lessons on how to update my site myself?

  7. How many revisions/rounds of edits are included?

  8. What’s your record like for on-time site launches?

  9. Will you send me the original design files once we’re done the project?

Before you go, I have a question for you! Are you ready to outsource some site build things to a pro to grow your online empire quickly? Oh perfect, I’d love to help with that! You can find all the details on how we can work together building or tweaking your site right over here.

Update: I no longer offer custom 1:1 design services! Instead, I now teach 1000’s of students through my online courses, how to use Squarespace to DIY their own completely custom, professional-looking website at a fraction of what it costs to hire a designer!

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9 Smart Questions To Ask Your Potential Website Designer