Choosing a website designer can be a tricky business. There are so many things to consider in making sure that you choose the best person to represent your business online.

Here are a few of the essential questions to ask your potential website designer, before you ask them to work with you.

Can I see some examples of your work?

If you can’t see the work that your potential website designer has done for their other clients; walk away now, in fact run.

Never choose a website designer who isn’t proud of the work that they have done and wants you to see examples of their work. If they don’t have an online portfolio that shows you a series of the different types of websites they have produced over the years, this should be ringing some serious alarm bells.

Why are they not showing off their work? Probably because it’s rubbish or they’ve only been in business since last Tuesday. Walk away now. Choose a website designer that has an extensive portfolio of websites, that wants you to see what they’ve been designing over the past few years and are proud of them all.

Can I speak to some of your customers?

Any website designer worth their salt will be more than happy for you to speak to any of their current customers.

All you should have to do is ask. Or just look through their portfolio and give the customer a call, telling them you are thinking of using the same website designer as they have and can you have a moment of their time.

If a website designer is secretive of their clients and don’t want you to talk to them, you’ve got to ask yourself why.

They should be proud of their relationships with all of their customers, and shouldn’t be shy of you asking for their opinion.

What type of payment schedules are available?

Website design can be an expensive investment for your business. You know that it is a very wise outlay and the right way to go, but maybe can’t quite afford the whole amount in one go. Spreading the cost over a few months during the development will help your cash flow and allow you to invest at the right level for your business.

If you’ve got to cut corners because the website designer is asking for everything in one large invoice, you might have to cut back a little so that you can afford it – bad news for your website.

If they are asking for everything up front, before they move their mouse – walk away.

They should be happy to accept staged payments based on the work they do for you.

Can I meet with you in person if the need arises?

We’re sure that you want to meet in person with your potential website designer. If they are not forthcoming in getting together, start to ask yourself why not.

Naturally if geographic distance forbids this, that’s OK – but try to get a sense if they usually meet with their clients or if they never engage in human contact. This will help you to get a feel for how customer facing they are.

If you live six miles away from them and they don’t want to meet up – walk away. They are hiding something.

Do you use proprietary software to design the website that means only you can maintain the web site?

If you are getting a website design created, you need to make sure that you keep your options open.

Many website designers use in-house software that, should you want to move away in later years, will prevent you from taking the website with you. They’ll let you take the website design, but will not let you take the software that they own to manage it.

You’re left with half of what you’ve purchased. It’s like trying to sell your car but not being able to give your new buyers the engine; kind of useless.

Make sure that should you decide to, you can take the entire website to another provider and that it will work in its new home.

What exactly will be delivered after the design is complete?

Make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for with your website design.

What’s included and what is not. If you’ve asked for a content management system, make sure that it can manage the things that you need to manage.

It’s all about the scope of the project. What will you have to deliver to fulfil the website; textual content, photographs, video etc…

Who owns the copyright of the images and any photos used in the web site?

If you’ve not taken the photographs on your new website yourself, make sure that they are above board.

Make sure that the photographs are not infringing any copyright and are yours as part of the website design.

Who owns the copyright of the website design?

At the end of the day you need to make sure that you own your website. You’ve paid your website designer for the work they have done, so you want to make sure that you own it at the end of the day.

We hope that you don’t fall out with your website designer, but if you do, you need to make sure that you own the website design and everything associated with it. You never know why you might have to leave, but being prepared is always the best option.