Having a professionally built website that converts your visitors into sales can give you a serious edge over your competitors. We’ve all heard the horror stories where a business hired a sub-par agency that did not deliver on their promises. As a seasoned web designer myself, I have encountered many business owners who wasted a ton of time and money this way.

That is why I have decided to put together a comprehensive guide for hiring the right web designer, the first time. Designing your website is a multi-step process and preparing for this project beforehand can make the process very seamless (and your web designer will love you for it!) In this post, I will provide you with all the information you need to know to have a successful website-building experience.

Prepare for your website

Define the scope of your project

What do you want your website to accomplish? Will you be selling products or booking appointments online? Your website is the most accessible way for a customer to reach your business. What will they need to do business with you? Determine your business’ needs and create a game plan to accomplish those goals.

A good exercise is to create a list of 4 websites that accomplish a similar goal as you. Then use these websites to help determine what your project will need. Most web designers will ask you to do this anyways, so being prepared ahead of time will help speed up the process.

Determine your site’s time frame

Having a clear understanding of the time frame for your website can help you to determine the ideal web design agency. A typical web design project can take anywhere from 1 – 3 months. If you require a heavier payload of functionality or content, that time can be increased to about 3 – 6+ months. Factors that can increase this time are the number of pages, products (if e-commerce), core functionality, delivery of assets, communication, and revisions.

It is important to inform your developer of your specific deadlines and goals. Creating a clear time expectation for your developer can lead to a more accurate website quote and a more seamless process. If you need your site to finished faster than normal, some agencies offer expedited or “rushed” projects at a higher cost.

Create a budget

First off, you must know how much you are comfortable spending on your site.  A typical WordPress website built by a web design agency will cost around $3,000-$6,000 (according to Website Builder Expert). There are other “free” options such as Wix, Weebly, SiteBuilder, and others. These options typically require you to purchase website themes, plugins, and other paid services to have a well-designed website. Try to be realistic, your website will be a big part of your online presence. You do not want to cut corners on functionality simply because you didn’t budget enough for costs.

Website costs can be broken down into two primary categories: initial website design and ongoing maintenance. Initial website costs can include web hosting, domain registration, SSL certificate (for security), content creation, and core functionality. These costs are solely for the setup of your website. Generally, this is where most of your budget will be spent.

Ongoing maintenance can include web hosting renewals, domain registration, SSL certificate, content creation, debugging, website backups, and website additions. If your goal is to bring new traffic to your website organically through search engines like Google and Bing, you should also factor in Search Engine Optimization (or “SEO”). You can read more about SEO and why it’s important for your website here. 

Hire your web design agency

Once you have completed the planning process, do some research on developers in your area. Every web design agency is different and provides different services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or shop around a bit. Once you’ve determined your options, hire a web design agency that fits your individual needs.

What you will need:

When creating a website, you will be constantly working with your design agency. To ensure a speedy implementation and keep costs low, there are a few things you can do to stay ahead of the game.

Gather information about your business

Nowadays content is the key to nurture a lucrative website. Your agency will explain the necessary content required for each page. Submit this content as soon as you can to ensure that your website deadlines are met. If you don’t know where to start, your web design agency can provide professional copy-writing for your website. (typically at an extra cost)

Provide any relevant details about your brand

Your website is a direct extension of your business online. Therefore, the atmosphere of your business online should be the same as in-person. Provide your web developer with any previously used logo’s, professional images, fonts, and colors. This will ensure that your brand extends to all forms of media.

Think of your target audience

The colors, design style, and content structure of your website should have your target audience in mind. Create ways to make things easier for your customer. For example, a single page e-commerce website checkout process will provide an easier online sale, as opposed to a multi-step process that involves many loads and redirects before a customer can make a purchase.

Designing a website is a team process. Every project offers a unique digital experience that can have a big impact on a customer’s decision to take action. Hire a web design agency that will be able to serve your needs. Take the time to think about your website ahead of time. This will ensure that your next website is a success.