Hiring a designer for your business isn't a decision that you should make lightly. Here is a guide to the important info you should know, as well as a handy printable list to use during your conversations.
When you hire an advertising or creative agency, website designer, or graphic designer, they are ultimately responsible for the visual image that you are putting out there that represents your organization. They should be able to effectively communicate your message by producing quality graphics, media, and content for your website; developing content and design that represents your business brand and message. They should be able to deliver content in a timely manner without surprise charges or issues. This, of course, is provided that a clear plan was established before the start of the project.
It is so important to discuss budget, timeline, and other details before you give the OK to start a project, because your online image is crucial when it comes to business.
Especially now, with the COVID-19 Pandemic driving more and more people to engage with businesses and shop online, we have all had to learn to adapt and become problem solvers in an effort to keep our businesses running and profitable. This includes some business owners making the jump to online a little bit sooner than they were ready for.
Yes, running a business can be hard. Yes, marketing can be time consuming. Yes, you have a million other things to do… but, don’t skimp in this area! Not on time or budget. And, if you really truly don’t have the time, increase your budget. This is also one of the benefits of hiring a company like Bustle & Grow. We are more than graphic designers and web developers, we are marketing and small business growth experts. We can utilize our team's skills and knowledge to develop the content you need for your online presence so that you can focus on your tasks at hand.
Imagine if you were hiring someone to redecorate your storefront… they are responsible for changing the way your products and displays look, the description on the packaging, your special offers… you would want to be sure you’ve chosen someone who gets your vision, right? Your business website is even more important!
Pay attention, know your goals and what you want the outcome to be. Dedicate a budget, follow through, and cover the following talking points BEFORE you start your website or graphic design project. An experienced marketing and design expert should be able to help you cover all of the above and confidently discuss the following. If not, find someone else, quick!
Ask yourself when you would like the project to be completed and ready to show the world. Topics to discuss with your designer include:
When can the project start?
When can I expect my first proof?
When can we go live after final approval?
When is payment expected? (see budget below)
In media terms, a ”proof" is the example that your designer sends you to ask for your approval before they send the final product and consider the project complete. This is your chance to make any edits or corrections. If your initial discussion about your goals and ideas for the design was thorough, you shouldn’t need to make too many changes. Most companies and designers have a limit to the number of proofs that they will work on before they start to charge you for changes. So, be clear about what you are envisioning. Make sure to ask:
How many rounds of proofing do you offer before you charge for additional changes?
How long after I send changes will I see an updated proof?
How long after I approve the proof will the final product be delivered?
Your website is a necessary investment and is what represents your business to the entire world, so this is the last place you should try to cut corners. Remember: cheap isn’t good, and good isn’t cheap. That doesn’t mean you have to mortgage your house to pay for a website. But, stay away from free options and, please, don’t have your daughters-friend’s-cousin build it halfway for you. You’re a professional, so hire one!
Marketing experts, especially designers, are also artists in their own form. They care about the final product and about delivering quality. If you don’t get this vibe from your designer, it’s probably time to look for a new one.
Most designers will either give you a flat rate, or they will charge you by the hour. Either way, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what everything will cost and when payment will be expected. Once these things are clarified and out in the open, progress happens, everyone has a clear understanding and feels good about being part of the project team. You should discuss:
Your max spend amount
What is included in the price?
Content is a huge part of what makes a website successful. Of course, there are several other factors, but that’s a topic for another post. Content isn’t just text, it also includes images and photos, pdf files, music and video clips, blog posts, company info, etc. It should be clear:
Who is providing photos, videos, and other media?
Who is writing page content?
Who is providing logo images?
Do I need professional photos or do you have access to stock photos?
Is stock art included in the website fee?
Who is writing blog posts?
Do you follow SEO best practices when building the site?
Is my website secure?
Do you offer training or support after the site has been launched?
Having your content organized and in a digital format can be a game changer as far as saving money on a website. It isn’t a make or break type of thing, but here is some advice to help save time, and also speed up the process of launching an awesome website for your business. Ask things like:
Do you build custom sites or do you use templates?
Do you outsource or will you be the one designing the site?
Do you offer any other services other than web/graphic design?
Be sure to be descriptive with how you would like your website or graphic to look. If you would rather let the pros come up with what they think is best, be clear with the designer that they have creative liberty.
Providing descriptions for your photos and files will go a long way, and will save time for your designer. Important pieces of content include your:
Location and contact info
"About" your business
Services & descriptions
Staff & staff bio’s
Frequently asked questions
Store items in a spreadsheet format with pricing, categories, and descriptions
Other important content
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have all of this together, or if it isn’t in a digital format. A great marketer can help you with all of this. We see all kinds of things and make it work! Sketches on napkins... pictures of ideas people drew on paper… a folder full of sticky notes and random photos…
All designers and advertising agencies will have their own policies. It is important to know where you stand as far as owning your business’ marketing materials. Some of the key points to discuss include:
What if I decide to take my website to another company?
Can I keep the same website design?
Who owns the content on the new website or graphic design images?
Is there a fee to move my website from you to another company?
What is the transfer process?
Who owns my URL / Domain name?
If you are working with solo entrepreneurs, you should ask: Do you have a backup plan if something unexpected were to happen to you?
You should think about how involved you want to be in the upkeep and editing of your website and how often you will be making changes. Does your website include a blog? How often do you want to post fresh content? Questions to review include:
Will I have access to edit my website?
What is the hourly rate for editing?
What is the time frame for edits once they are received?
Who is writing and adding blog content?
How should changes be requested?
Most graphic design projects are one-and-done type deals, like logos, flyers, print ads, web ads, etc., and won’t require routine maintenance. Our philosophy is that a website should be treated as a living thing (as far as maintenance; we're not talking sci-fi stuff here). Like a car, you need to perform routine tasks for optimal performance. Website maintenance is different than website editing and often includes security updates, platform updates, SEO (Search engine optimization) updates, apps, and readability, among other aspects. Things are always changing when it comes to websites and search engines and it is important to make sure that your investment (website) is consistently up to date. Ask:
Do you perform regular maintenance?
What is the fee?
Are updates automatic, will you check with me first?
Who monitors the website to be sure it is running smoothly at all times?
If you have other questions or topics that you would like to cover, it's a good idea to write them down ahead of time. This way you can be sure to stay focused and that you discuss everything that was on your mind relating to the project.
In addition to these key points, you should look for someone who you feel is a good fit for you to communicate with. Are they responsive? Do they have a good reputation? Do you think that they understand the way that you want to portray your business? This person may not be your employee, but they need to be on your team and you both need to feel good about your business relationship. Establishing a clear picture and solid plan before the start of your project is key to a successful, ongoing designer-client relationship.
Do you have questions about hiring Bustle & Grow?
Contact us, your first consultation is free!