7 great questions to ask a website designer

1. Can I see some examples of your work?

The start of your web design journey should revolve around finding a web designer who can offer a quality of design you are most happy with. If you don't like their previous work, continue shopping around.

2. How long have you been in business?

Often, the sign of a successful web design company can be judged by the length of time they have been in business. You can find further information about companies on Companies House .

3. Where can I read your customer feedback?

Reviews can tell a lot about a company. Try and search for reviews online before choosing a web designer, or you might end up regretting your decision. Use as many review sites as possible, to ensure you are getting reliable information. Popular review websites include: Trustpilot , WWDC or more formal sites such as Buy With Confidence from Trading Standards.

4. Will I own my domain?

Always make sure you own your domain (web address). Even if your chosen website designer was a mistake, owning your domain means you should be able to move to a new company and create a brand new website using the same domain. This is important for search engine optimisation (SEO) and means you won't need to update all your marketing material or emails.

5. What level of support do you offer?

Having the ability to update your own website is very common and a useful feature. However, if computers aren't your strong point you need to know if you can rely on your web designer for support when you need it. Do they have a support team? Can you always speak to someone over the phone? Good customer support is worth its weight in gold.

6. What are the on-going costs?

Domain, emails, hosting and support all come at a cost. The cost to run a website varies considerably, ranging from a small annual fee to expensive monthly payments. Some web designers also include SEO, which again varies in quality and cost. Always do you research and ask what's included.

7. Is there a contract?

Many low-cost web designers make their money through long-term contracts and upgrades once you've signed up, regardless of what you may have been promised beforehand. If you're being asked to sign up to a 12-month contract that sounds too good to be true, the chances are it is. The wrong choice could cost your business 12 months of lost opportunities and unnecessary hassle.

3 things you should know before buying a website

1. What is the difference between a web developer and a web designer

The two terms are very similar and are often used to describe all types of website design companies. However, it is generally considered that web developers specialise more in back-end development, whereas website designers focus on what the customer sees, e.g. front-end design.

Web development typically refers to functionality, such as movement, databases and automatic functions such as search filters and calculators.

Web designers tend to only design simple brochure-style websites to promote companies. There are likely more of these type of web designers than any other due to the vast requirement in the market for simple, cost-effective websites.

2. What is eCommerce?

Ecommerce websites are essentially online shops. They are often expensive websites containing numerous functions and systems for selling items through the website.

3. What is the best content management system (CMS)

There are a number of CMS platforms to choose from. Every web designer will offer something slightly different and their skills will also vary.

The two main types of CMS are open-source and proprietary systems. There are pros and cons to each.

Open-source systems, such as Wordpress, often have poor security and limited support. You also need to consider the skill of the web designers who use them as the platforms are usually free to download for anyone.

Proprietary systems usually offer a far greater level of security and support but lack the ability for customers to take the editor with them if they move their website to a new host. However, it's unlikely that you would need or want to take a previous platform with you when you're ready for change. The added security and ease of use usually makes proprietary platforms the preferable choice.