So You Need Some Web Design Work

I will be patient during your learning process, 1 person helping another up a tough climbThere is a lot of information on my blog about who I am and how I got here. This is really the important stuff–what it means to hire and work with a professional website designer.

There are questions everyone should ask about a person’s design services. These are the ones I am asked most often:

  • Will you maintain my website (e.g. patches)?
    I do offer a monthly maintenance service to check links, update image files, apply theme or plugin updates, make sure contact forms are still working, etc. Security patches and other server updates should be handled by your website host. Some hosts will even offer to auto update your plugins.  I do not provide website hosting as part of my services. Some web designers offer this type of service and are using a multi-site option that lets them reuse existing templates. You can run into site template ownership problems with this model, so be cautious.
  • Who do I contact for technical issues?
    You can contact me, I am your project manager. If I determine that the problem is on the host’s side you will contact your website hosting company. Most issues on a page will not be technical issues, they will be modifications and tweaks to content. You can describe the issue and I can let you know whether it is a hosting support issue or page modification/update need.
  • Will you register my domain?
    I can, but I always recommend that the person who owns the company the website belongs to does this part. Domain  ownership can be transferred later, so make sure your own staff and your own contact information are set as the domain’s registrant. This way, you get renewal notices and if you decide to use a different Web designer in the future, you don’t have to worry about your former designer having total control over your domain name. I can give you advice and information about how to set this up. Domain names are important to renew and maintain. They are tied to your company’s online reputation management, so keep them registered.
  • Do you include any search engine optimization (SEO)?
    I do some basics for you. If I am providing ongoing maintenance of your site, I can use your host’s search engine visibility tools to refresh your site map. If you really want to focus on being found in search (small businesses need to be realistic about just how well this will work for them, by industry), there are companies that will provide special services to do this. I have someone I trust with a company that is fair and reputable that I can recommend. I can set up basics such as keywords and Google Analytics code within your pages. If you need me to research your industry or recommended keywords, this will add more time to a flat rate bid, or more per hour costs. SEO is important, so if you don’t have me do it, be sure to have someone take the time. You will want to be set up with a Google Analytics account before we finish your project. If you can’t measure the use of your site, you won’t know if you are getting the most out of your investment in it. I will explain what all of this means.
  • Do you bill per hour or by flat-rate?
    I offer both, depending on the number of requirements you have defined up front for your site project. We will decide this when working on your bid acceptance document.

    • If it’s per-hour, what’s an estimate for the cost?
      My usual rate is $55/hour and most small business sites take from 10-30 hours to finish (Most clients have been in the range of $1500), depending on the use of templates versus fully custom design, graphics, tech support and setup needed, etc. Just remember that you are getting a full set of project needs including consultation, project management, graphics, site design, site creation and site upload. Unless your needs are very specialized, you won’t have to outsource or get other bids for the content you need to get your site online.
    • If it’s flat-rate, how many revisions on your original design do you offer?
      I will do up to 2 revisions on the original design to let you approve or refine the original, see what the modified version is like, then tweak the modified version to come to a final design. This is assuming you have not completely changed your requirements or page layouts, but just requested refinements to existing agree-upon pages. My flat-rate packages do include some additional nice features such as instruction guides or videos with info customized to your site. My best package includes monthly site maintenance for a year.
    • What if I need something really cheap?
      This is your digital sales, marketing, message sharing, time saving tool. My rates are already priced and flexible to save small business owners money. This is a really important investment, don’t settle for something or someone who is really cheap. A good website is an investment that pays for itself in many ways. A bad website is like throwing away money. Ask me to tell you a few of the horror stories I’ve heard from my clients.
  • Do you offer copy writing?
    Yes, I can write page content, newsletters, blog posts, etc. General page content is already included. Extra work on blog posts, e-newsletter creation, brochures, or promotional products can be bid separately.
  • How do we need to get images for the website?
    If you want to use stock photography, it is often cheaper to set up an account and get bundles of images, than to license royalty free images one at a time. I recommend you set up an account so you can find images you love and then provide me with copies. If you want me to find and license all of your images, I need to know that up front to include search time and image licensing fees in my bid. Personal images specific to who you are and what you do are always better than stock images of generic people or places. Consider using a local photographer rather than your/my digital camera. I can recommend several based on your specific needs. The same applies for specialized (not free) fonts, if you have any you use in your print products. I have DropBox available for easy image sharing. I can do graphic design work too, but I am not a full design studio.
  • How much do you charge for updates?
    Most updates are minor tweaks here and there, link fixes, etc. I have a minimum charge ($30) to go back and make updates to sites I do not maintain regularly, and then hourly from there depending on the extent of the changes requested. I do guarantee the quality of my work, so if you find a typo on your site, I will go in and fix it without charging extra. I believe your site should be error free before it goes live.