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11 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

This entry was posted By Cubert on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 6:46 pm and is filed under General Knowledge. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

What questions do I ask a web designer? Most companies do not have a problem finding web designers these days with graphic and web design becoming one of the more popular college degrees. The trouble arises with finding a web designer who knows their stuff and also who can keep your information secure. Let’s face it — more and more firms are in-sourcing the development of their websites. This has lots of important benefits, with improved security being a big reason more companies are keeping web developers (and source code) in-house. Whether you want a temporary designer or one to add to your list of employees,, there are a few critical questions to be sure to table so you don’t end up with 3 months of wasted time…or worse.

Most companies do not have a problem finding web designers these days with graphic and web design becoming one of the more popular college degrees. The trouble arises with finding a web designer who knows their stuff and also who can keep your information secure. Let’s face it — more and more firms are in-sourcing the development of their websites. This has lots of important benefits, with improved security being a big reason more companies are keeping web developers (and source code) in-house. Whether you want a temporary designer or one to add to your list of employees,, there are a few critical questions to be sure to table so you don’t end up with 3 months of wasted time…or worse.

  1. Do you have a portfolio?
    Ask to see what the web designer has already done. This will be a huge
    source of insight into the designer’s abilities. If your interview location has a computer, take the time to pull up a few of the sites the designer has worked on to see what they’ve done before. This lets you ask questions on the fly and probe deeper while you’ve got them right there with you.
  2. What sizes of projects have you completed?
    Another critical question
    is to know whether the web designer has worked on projects equivalent to the size of your projects. If they’ve only worked on large teams, they may have specialties but could use help with generalist work. On the other hand, if they’ve only worked on small projects, integrating your 100k+ catalog of projects may be outside their capabilities.
  3. How’s your AJAX?
    Interactivity is the new norm. As AJAX support becomes universal, you need designers who are at least somewhat familiar with the tools of the trade and standards.
  4. Can you handle HTML5?
    New standards mean revising old techniques. Web designers need to be up to speed on HTML5, especially in those areas pertinent to your website. Video and API treatment are just two key areas of HTMTL5 that are important, so see where their knowledge of this technology sits and if any red flags are raised.
  5. Can I see your CSS?
    Of course, CSS is an important part of integrating formatting standards throughout a site. With CSS becoming more and more a part of how web-based documents are delivered, it’s always good to cover this up front. Look over some CSS examples, if available, and see if any concerns jump out.
  6. What’s your favorite browser and why?
    This is a great question to ask because it opens up the floor for a conversation. This is more about listening to the designer sitting in front of you and getting a feel for their preferences. Mix it up by asking which browsers they hate and why.
  7. Do you integrate search engine optimization?
    Search engine optimization is critical for ensuring your website gets the ever-important organic search traffic. Does the designer know the basics and know how to integrate these into the design?
  8. How familiar are you with Section 508 requirements?
    The regulatory environment is just one more layer of complexity of our industry, and Section 508 compliance is becoming more important in certain sectors. Does the designer understand and have experience in developing with section 508 in mind?
  9. What programming languages can you develop in today?
    Websites are applications. Short of the most basic, static HTML documents hand-coded in Notepad, most websites require basic knowledge of PHP, C languages, and database integration. Make sure you understand where the designer’s capabilities are. Don’t assume they can handle the language you use without asking.
  10. How will you keep our site secure?
    Security with any kind of contact information and credit card data is an absolute must for any website today. Even if you integrate Paypal and let them handle the security piece, your designer should understand how to protect data and even catch potential security flaws.
  11. Got references?
    Always get references. You may think you have a mild-mannered web coding genius in front of you, but the last employer got to see an epic World of Warcraft melt-down right before a major roll-out. Take the time to check on a few references.

With those questions in mind, what other big questions should be asked? Any single question jump out that tends to reveal major concerns?

Tara Hornor has a degree in English and writes about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She works for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers postcards, posters, brochure printing, postcard printing, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

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