So you’ve decided to hire a website designer. Great! But how do you find one and how do you choose who to work with?
Where to find a Website Designer
A great place to start is researching your favourite websites. Most designers will include a link to their website in the footer (the bottom) on every page.
You could also search for website designers and agencies in your local area or reach out to other business owners and ask for a recommendation.
— just in case you didn’t realise, I’m a website designer so maybe I can help? ;p
Next, you’ll want to make sure they’re a good fit for you.
Assess the Quality of Their Websites
1. Review Previous Work
Take a look at their own website and portfolio. Use them as you would if you were a customer and ask yourself these questions:
- Do you like the look and feel?
- Is it user friendly?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Can you find the information you need?
- Do they have any functionality you would like? – forms, galleries, online shop, memberships, etc.
- Does it tell you what they do succinctly?
- Are there any missing images?
- Is anything broken or out of place?
2. Test PageSpeed
Website page and load speed are very important. A slow website not only effects the user but also affects search rankings. You can test the speed of any website using GT Metrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.
Make sure to test the developers website too! —If they don’t optimise their own website, how can you be sure they will optimise yours?
Test with GT Metrics
Once you test the URL you will see a report that shows PageSpeed and Load stats.
An ideal PageSpeed Score should be A or B (80% or more) and the Page Details (such as Fully Load Time, Total Page Size and Requests) should display a green chevron ^, meaning they score better than average.
You could also check the developers most recent websites.
It’s important to understand however, that a website will need regular optimisation to keep it fully optimised. Over time as more content and images are added, it can effect the pages and load speed.
3. Review SEO Best Practices
If a website’s basic SEO is not set up correctly, it will struggle to rank in search engines.
You can review some of the basics using free tools like Woo Rank and Nibbler.
Every page should should have the following:
- A Heading One (H1) – All pages should have ONE heading 1. With in this heading you should see headings 2’s and heading 3’s etc.
- A clear page title – This is the title that shows on the browser tab and as the title on search engine listings. e.g. Website Design for Small Business | Fifi Creative
- A meta description – This is a short description of the page and ideally set manually with optimised phrases and not left to show page content.
- Optimised URLs – the URL on pages should be the same as that page heading, if permalinks are not set correctly this will show as a number or page id.
4. Check Mobile Responsiveness
Make sure to check the website on other devices such as your mobile phone or tablet. Ask yourself these questions as you navigate:
- Does it adapt to the screen?
- Are buttons spaced enough to click on them?
- Does the navigation help you find all pages?
- Is any content missing or broken?
- Can you read the text?
You shouldn’t have to pinch to zoom in on a mobile responsive website. It should adapt to fit the size of the screen.
5. Review Browser Compatibility
Test the websites on different browsers. Some sites are will only work on modern browsers.
If you require a site to work on older browsers like Internet Explorer you’ll want to work with someone who caters for this.
The most common website browsers are Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge. You can test the browser compatibility using Browser Shots. This takes a screenshot of the website on various different browsers.
You should also include terms and conditions and an opt-in cookies notice.
The most common cookies on a website will be Google Analytics, a website must give you the option to opt-in to these with a cookies notice.
If the web developer doesn’t have these on their website or client sites, then they are not compliant.
10 Key Questions to ask a Developer or Agency
To help you ask the right questions here are 10 key questions to ask a website designer you are considering working with.
- Will you own the copyright for the website design and code?
- Will you have full access to every part of your website?
- Will you be able to update content without them?
- What browsers would it be compatible with? — Some developers may not cater for old browsers such as Internet Explorer.
- Will, they set up basic SEO and will you be able to alter this information if required?
- Do they set up Google Search Console and add sitemaps?
- Do they set up Google Analytics tracking? — Make sure you are set as the owner!
- Will it be optimised to pass PageSpeed tests?
- Do they include training on how to use the website admin?
- Will there be any additional costs if you decided to leave and work with another developer/agency in future?
Once you’ve decided on a designer or agency you’ll need to start planning and creating content for your website.