So you’ve read our posts about How to Find a Great Web Designer, Questions to Ask Your Web Designer and How Much Should You Spend for a Website and decided to hire someone (Hopefully us, if not contact us before making a huge mistake!) In this post we’re going to go through the final questions you should ask before signing a contract. These questions are probably not going to affect your decision, but they will help you manage the project smoothly and will get you a better website.
What are the next steps?
You’re not the professional in web design, but the person you’re hiring is. So let them prove their expertise and benefit from their experience by asking this question first. It will help you determine if they’re prepared to take this job and if they have a proven web design process or if they’re just going to improvise.
All web design projects start with a discovery phase in which the web designer tries to understand your needs and requirements better. If they’re experienced enough they should have a bunch of questions to ask you like these:
Pro Tip: If you feel like you’re not asked enough questions, better walk away sooner than later.
What are the milestones of this project?
Creating milestones is a great way to keep track of the project. Especially for projects that are going to take months, milestones are a must to refresh enthusiasm and keep the motivation alive. If there aren’t clearly set milestones, you should expect a late delivery. You should also ask for deliverables associated with each milestone. For instance, after the design phase of a custom website, your web designer should provide you the photoshop files (PSDs) for each page.
Pro Tip: After each milestone, get your deliverables, evaluate the performance, give feedback and decide if you’re willing to keep going.
Do you require an Upfront payment? What about milestone payments?
An upfront payment for website projects is almost a standard for experienced professionals and agencies. These funds are usually used to initiate your project, buying the necessary themes/plugins if necessary. Also, this payment shows your goodwill and intention to complete the project. The rate changes depending on the web designer, and it can go up to 50%. Our policy at adogandesign is to get 20% upfront payment for fixed price contracts.
You should ask about the payments after each milestone as well. They’re a great way to encourage your designer for the next step. Regular payments will show appreciation, be a vote of confidence and erase any questions in the web designer’s mind about getting his/her payment at the end of the job. Unfortunately runaway clients or budget cuts in the middle of projects are common problems in this industry.
Pro Tip: Not requiring an upfront payment for a fixed price contract can be a sign of lack of experience.
What happens if I don’t like the design?
Web design projects are blind buys. Since they’re custom products (even when they’re based on a theme), you can’t see the end product before buying it. So you’re going to require some kind of a guarantee if you’re not happy with the results.
And this is a question I love to receive from my clients so I can talk about my 100% satisfaction guarantee. In our agency, if you’re not happy with our work after a milestone, you can just inform us about this, get a full refund of your last payment and cancel the contract without any obligations.
Can I have a 3rd party developer and/or designer to inspect your job?
This is actually not a question but a statement. It shows your intent to hire another professional for inspection and sends this message to the designer:
“I don’t want anything funky going on with the website. Even if I don’t have a clue about web design, I have the means to find it out and that’s why you don’t want to make any mistakes.” (Don’t have a gun in your hand when you’re asking about this.)
At the end, even if you don’t hire someone to do this inspection, asking this question makes sure your website is going to be designed and developed to perfection.
Do you provide training or manuals on how to maintain the website?
Being able to update your website without the help of a web designer is a great luxury and it may actually be a deciding factor. In the long run, your maintenance costs are lowered significantly. Established companies may even have these manuals ready. For instance, for our clients who aren’t familiar with WordPress, we’re offering this WP Beginner Manual. You can check our blog category documentation to reach all of our manuals.
Do you offer support after the launch if something goes wrong?
This is another critical question that may affect your decision at the last minute. Support in the web design industry is a problematic issue. Offering free support can be costly for web design professionals because most of the problems that arise after the launch are due to user’s mistakes.
At adogandesign, we usually offer 3 months free support for our websites but also our support policy depends on the nature of the problems. For instance, if you’ve read our manual about WordPress but failed to update your plugins regularly and your site gets hacked because of a security problem in one of those plugins you’ve failed to update, you won’t be able to benefit from our free support policy.
These 6 questions are a must before signing a contract with your web designer. These questions prevent many surprises that may occur during the development and after the launch. Of course, it’s possible to extend this list, and we’d be glad to hear your suggestions.