10 Things You Need To Know About Your Freelance Web Designer

Posted on: June 11th, 2008 by afox

I’ve found that many of my clients aren’t really sure what to expect from a website designer. It can be difficult to say for sure as many designers offer their services to varying degrees. A quote from one designer may or may not include the same services as a quote from another designer. I’ve made it a policy to, from the outset, explain in detail the services I offer and do not offer so there is no confusion. Here’s a list of things you should know about your designer to avoid any improper expectations.

1. Logo / Branding
Are you in need of custom logo and branding services? Is your designer including this in their quote? Do you need business cards, fliers, or brochures created and printed? Having a website built can be the start of an entire business plan or it can be an extension of an existing business model. If you do not already have a corporate identity it may be necessary to seek those services elsewhere depending on what your designer offers.

2. Content and Content Writing
Are you in need of content writing services? I personally do not write content for the websites I build. While many website designers do, you should always make sure who is going to be providing the content. My rule of thumb is simple: It is your (the client’s) industry. You are the one best suited to write your content. Also the issue of images. Do you need your designer to provide the images or do you have images you wish to place on your website? On a side note: There are many resources to obtain quality, royalty-free images for use with your website. link

3. Custom Scripting / Programming
Are you in need of custom scripting or database work? Check with your designer if this is a service they offer. Many designers are multi faceted while others are very centered on the services they do offer. It is important to check with your potential designers as they may need to outsource this work and revise their quote.

4. E-Commerce / Online Stores
It is a common practice for most designers to provide an online store or e-commerce solution. The questions though are: To what extent do these services run? Will you be required to operate and input the products for your store? Is there written documentation or training that you will receive in order to learn about the ins and outs of your e-commerce solution? Is there an added fee for use of the store software (setup or monthly)? What is the store software going to be capable of? Will it fully meet your needs and expectations? Check with your potential designer and make sure that your e-commerce solution is just that: A Solution.

5. Search Engine Optimization / Marketing
Is your designer going to take care of your marketing and search engine optimization needs? It is common knowledge that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. This is especially true with website design. The internet is a big place growing exponentially each year. It can be a real challenge to make your website stand out. Does your designer offer these services? If not, are they able to assist and point you in the right direction? Because SEO and Marketing are not a one time service; are there monthly or yearly fees associated with these services? As a designer I try to explain to my clients what they should expect in terms of traffic and success with their website. There are many different forms of marketing and SEO, make sure that you choose whats best for you. Your designer can most likely either provide the service or help you find someone who does.

6. Time Frame
What is your designer’s time frame for your project? Are you in need of an expedited service? Discuss clearly with your designer to ensure you are both on the same page. A time frame estimation can vary greatly based on a number of factors. Is your designer able to reach you for questions or added details / clarity? Are you able to reach your designer? Does your designer have all of the information they need to complete your project? Is any of this work being outsourced which can cause added delays? Be sure to let your designer know what your goals are and what you expect. It does wonders to clear up any misconceptions right from the start.

7. Revisions and Changes
What are your designers stipulations on revisions and changes throughout the design process? Does your designer have a set limit of revisions they will make on your design during the construction? This is a really important thing to ask your designer as they may or may not place limits on the amount of changes they initially make. It goes two ways: If you as the customer are not quite sure what you are looking for and are adding to the workload of the designer by requesting many changes it would be prudent for your designer to work out a pricing system that is fair for both parties. If your designer is simply not hitting the mark with their attempts it may not be appropriate for additional fees to be imparted. Speak with your designer about this and make sure you are both on the same page.

8. Other Services
Discuss your needs and goals with your designer and make a list of the things you require to complete this project. It is important to make sure your designer has a clear idea of what you are looking for to properly give you a quote. Some services you require may not fall under the scope of what your designer provides, it is important to define these and take the steps needed to ensure your goals are brought to fruition. Your designer will no doubt have a list of companies or individuals that provide the services he / she may not offer. Check with your designer to see if they are able to help you obtain these other services you may need. This may save you the hassle of finding a reputable source that will perform the services you need.

9. Maintenance And Upkeep
A very important part of your website is maintenance and upkeep. Depending on your needs you may need to edit your website frequently while others may not. Does your designer provide a means for you to make changes or update requests to your website? Do they have a means to allow you to edit your own web pages? If you are planning on taking care of changes and maintenance your self, is your designer going to build your website in a fashion that you can easily update? Many designers, myself included, offer a monthly maintenance package to fill this need. Check with your designer to make sure their solution is something that works for you and your budget.

10. Communication
I mention communication as it is something that I feel is important in website design. Your designer is tasked with taking your ideas and converting them into a website that will not only please you but that will fill your needs properly. Make sure you are able to clearly communicate with your designer on all fronts as this will avoid any future headaches and ensure that both parties have proper expectations. Feel free to speak with your designer often as this will help you and your designer achieve your goals. If you have concerns or reservations about your designer, it may be a good idea to look elsewhere for the services you need. It is very important that you work well together so that everything goes smoothly.

These are all directed at those in search of website design services. On the part of the designer it is equally important to assist your clients in achieving their website design goals. Website Designers will generally have more experience and a clearer understanding of what is required to build a complete website solution. You should expect any potential designer to freely discuss with you what is required and expected when having a website built.

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