If you want to hire a web designer in Nigeria, the questions you ask in your first meeting (and the series of meetings that follow) will go a long way to determine if the project will be a success or you will be looking for another web designer to redesign the website within a month.
These questions are very important because they help you to have all the necessary information before you come to a decision to hire a web designer for your project. They also help you to expose the incompetent ones that could have given you a lot of headache in the future.
If the web designer you want to hire cannot answer up to 20 out of these 25 questions below to your satisfaction, my simple advice is “don’t hire him” even if he is your pastor’s uncles’ brother’s sister.
In this article, I have also explained in details the answer you should be looking out for when you ask each question. When you go through to the end, you will also discover responses that are automatic red flags.
I can guarantee that any web developer that can convince you on 80% of these questions is the person you should hire.
Now let’s get started;
QUESTION 1: Can I see your portfolio (websites you designed in the past)?
If you want to hire a web designer in Nigeria, the first thing you must ask for is previous jobs the person or company has handled.
Of course, this is basic you may think.
But you will be amazed by the number of people who don’t care about this.
The key reason for asking for past web design projects is for you to be sure of the person’s capacity and ability to deliver. It exposes everything for you upfront.
If you know exactly what to look out for when you are viewing a website, you may not even need to ask any additional question because past websites designed by the developer will show you all that you need to know.
Red Flag: If any person you want to hire to design a website for you does not have even a single past project completed, this is a red flag, do not even bother to ask any other question
QUESTION 2: Have you ever designed “XYZ” type of website before?
If the web designer you want to hire has designed the exact type of site you need or something similar in the same industry, request to see it. If it is up to the standard you want, then you can be sure you are in good hands.
However, even if the developer has not designed the exact type of website you want but his/her portfolio is good enough with excellent design layouts, then you are still in good hands
Red Flag: If the web designer’s past projects are old school and shabby e.g. poor graphics, poor layout structure, slow to load, not mobile responsive etc. then you need to look elsewhere. Even if the designer has designed exactly the same type of website for a client previously, you should still look elsewhere because yours will not be any different.
QUESTION 3: How long have you been designing websites?
With this question, you are simply trying to gauge how experienced the developer is. Because when it comes to website design, like every other profession on earth, having experience is of the essence.
There is no way you can compare the standard of a site designed by someone with 10 years working experience and that of a kid just out of an IT training program. There’s much more to a website than just a series of codes.
Red Flag: If the designer has just a few months of experience with little or no portfolio to back it up, you should be careful. Approach hiring him/her with caution – if you must.
QUESTION 4: Do you represent a company or you work as a freelancer?
You want to be sure of the exact status of whoever you are dealing with. The advantage with dealing with a company over a freelancer is that you most likely will have a team of experts working on your project.
This doesn’t mean that hiring an experienced freelancer will be any less effective. But it is always rare to see a freelancer that is good at front-end design, graphics design, SEO, server-side coding etc.
Another advantage of working with a company is that they will have an office address where you can easily trace them to in case the relationship goes sour. A freelancer without an office can just disappear and it will be difficult to track him down.
Also, if you work with a freelancer that is not organized, you may end up with a situation (like many others) where your hosting and domain name will expire and he won’t even remember to inform you and you will completely lose your website.
I’ve had a countless number of clients that had to redesign their website because their initial web designer was not reachable or didn’t inform them before their hosting got expired.
Red Flag: There is not necessarily any red flag here. But it is always better to deal with a registered corporate entity.
QUESTION 5: Do you work as a team or as an individual?
Well, this question is almost like question 4 above. But it is important to note that even if someone works as a freelancer, it doesn’t mean that he does all the work by himself. He may have a team of other experts that he outsources some aspects of the job (e.g. graphics design).
The same thing applies if you hire a company to design your website. That someone identifies himself as representing “a company” does not necessarily mean that they have a team.
But generally, you should hire a team to work on your project than a single individual. In my experience, lone web designers do not always offer the best. It doesn’t mean there are no guys out there who are “Jacks of all trades and masters of all”.
Red Flag: If an individual handles everything from scratch to finish, you should be suspicious of his competence in all the areas of web development – layout design, graphics, SEO, conversion rate optimization, server-side coding etc.
QUESTION 6: What type of website will you design for me and what platform do you use to design websites?
Essentially, there are two broad types of websites – Dynamic websites and static websites.
If you want a corporate website, blog or minimally custom dynamic website, the best option to use is a content management system (CMS). A CMS is a open-source software that allows users to create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge. The website owner does not need to have any technical programming knowledge to be able to manage his/her company website.
It will then create a situation whereby any time you want an update (even something as basic as uploading latest company news), you will have to call your web designer to do it for you. In most cases, you will have to pay the designer per update you carry out on your website.
QUESTION 7: How long will it take you to conclude the project?
Asking about the timeline for any web design project is important. This way you can pin the developer to a schedule. Without a specific timeline, your designer may abandon your job to work on some other “more urgent” projects.
I have had clients who gave out web design contracts and for more than 6 months their websites were still under construction.
Another advantage of this is that having a timeline ensures you monitor your project based on agreed milestones.
Caution: If your designer will not give a specific time schedule, firmly demand for it and ask him to put it down in writing.
QUESTION 8: What type of hosting will you use?
There are basically 4 different types of web hosting – shared hosting, Virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting and dedicated servers. You can check out this article to see the average cost of each hosting type.
Before you hire a web designer in Nigeria, always ask for what type of hosting your designer will use so that you know the type of value you should expect. The larger your visitors, the bigger the hosting space you should go for.
If your site is going to have a lot of activities (e.g. a church with a large congregation or news site), it’s better to go for a VPS or dedicated server when hosting. However, if yours is just a website for a small company, you can make do with shared hosting.
Also, the hosting company your web designer will use matters a lot. Using a credible hosting company is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Caution: Don’t go for all these cheap $1 hosting. You will most likely regret it if you do.
QUESTION 9: How will you optimize my website for conversion (i.e. to get more customers, leads, subscribers etc.)?
Before you hire a web designer, it is EXTREMELY essential that you ask him about how he will optimize your website for improved conversion. If your web designer suddenly looks confused and appears to have zero knowledge of this concept, you should be careful.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of making your website easy to convert visitors to paying customers or buyers. It is the process of getting your website visitors to take action on your website. Conversion does not necessarily mean to buy a product/service. CRO for some folks may be just to capture user data (like names, email addresses, phone numbers etc.) through the site for subsequent follow-up.
For example, if you visit E-Brand Promotion website, pay attention, you will see that it is very easy to request for a web design price quote. We optimized the site for data capturing.
Red Flag: If the web designer does not have a firm understanding of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), don’t hire him. Web designers who don’t know how to do CRO are most likely to build you a website that won’t provide any meaningful value (like sales, leads generation, newsletter subscribers etc.)
QUESTION 10: How will you handle SEO issues for my new website?
SEO means Search Engine Optimization. In layman’s terms, it is the process of improving a website’s visibility by making it appear on the front page of Google (or some other search engine like Bing) when people search for some important relevant keywords.
For your site to be successful online, it has to be visible in Google search result page. Therefore, you must ensure that whoever you are going to hire to design your website understands this concept in details.
How do you know if someone understands, at least, the basics of SEO? Listen carefully for him to tell you about things like Meta tags, Keyword research/density, site loading speed, IP canonicalization etc. These are all technical terms. You can look up what they mean if you want. But that’s not necessary.
The most important thing is that he doesn’t appear lost or talks incoherently. If that happens, it’s a red flag and you should put on your “Usain Bolt” shoes.
QUESTION 11: Where are you located?
When it comes to web design, location does not really matter that much. This is because, even if you hire your neighbor’s kid to design your website, he may still make a mess of the project if he is not experienced and good at his job. If you like, stand over his shoulders all day as he works.
But if you are the type that enjoys physical contact with your vendors, you then need to inquire about the location to be sure the designer is in the same city as you. One of the advantages that come with being in the same city is the ease of access and communication. You can simply drive over your developer’s office to have a meeting or have him come over to yours.
The most important thing is constant communication.
To put your mind at rest most experienced designers these days choose to design remotely. This way you can seat in the comfort of your office and check up on your developer and monitor the extent he/she has gone with the design. Your designer may even be in far away Australia.
Personally, I make it a duty to answer inquiries from out-of-town clients in a matter of minutes. It usually boosts confidence.
QUESTION 12: How will you ensure security for my website?
This is one of the most important questions you should ask before you hire a web designer. The reason being that you don’t want to compromise the information (like names passwords, credit card details) of internet users who use your website. You could be sued for that!
Also, spammers, hackers and trolls are everywhere online. You don’t want to be their victim. They are merciless. They are nasty.
If your web designer is experienced, one of the first things he will inform you is about SSL Certificate integration (this helps to encrypt data submitted via your website making it impossible for hackers to steal your information), spam protection, brute force protection, protection against DDOS attacks etc.
You should listen for some of these things I’ve listed above. They are like web security 101. If you don’t have them installed, your website will likely be compromised in less than 6 months.
I have a client that was attacked and 20,000 pornographic spam comments flooded her website in less than a month. It can be that bad.
Tip: if the web designer you want to hire doesn’t sound convincing with regards to how he will tackle security issues on your website, simply don’t hire him. You will thank me later.
Question 13: How soon can you send me a proposal?
When asking for a proposal from a web designer, you should not necessarily be expecting a 20-page proposal.
The idea of asking for a proposal is so that you can have a document that highlights what the developer wants to achieve for you and in what timeframe and at what price.
But if the designer can give clear details of each feature and scope of work involved and explain them clearly for you to understand, then that’s even better.
Question 14: Do you provide support after designing the website?
Since you don’t have technical knowledge of web design, this is very important for you to know. You don’t want to work with the kind of guy that will design your website and disappear the next day.
A good web design company should provide up to at least 6 months of free website tech support for his/her clients. And you should demand it.
I personally provide up to 1-year support free.
This is important because after development, minor issues may still be cropping up from time to time and they need to be patched up.
Note: website tech support is not the same thing as a web management. It simply means that if your website goes down or displays error codes, you have someone to tackle it.
QUESTION 15: How experienced are you (or your team) in graphics design?
When it comes to front-end design, graphic design plays a very important role in making it appear world class. Truth is, your website front end can only be beautiful and world-class if your graphics are top notch.
If you have a website with blurred and over-stretched images, it will give you and your business a bad name. Same applies if you use images that are irrelevant to the theme of the website.
I see some web designers use images of white guys on websites whose target audience is in a country like Nigeria. It just makes the site owner appear clueless.
Being experienced in graphic design isn’t just about designing beautiful images, it’s also about relevance. Using the right concepts in the right way and in a manner that will appeal to the target audience of the website.
Caution: do not overlook this question because, even if you hire the best developer in the world and he uses bad images for your front end, your website will appear poorly no matter how functional it may be.
Red Flag: Check the previous jobs of your potential web designer and pay close attention to the images used, if it is blurred, stretched, off-point – Run! Yours will appear exactly like that.
QUESTION 16: Do you have experience in digital marketing?
If you meet a web designer that is also experienced and excellent in digital marketing, you have hit a jackpot. You can be guaranteed that your website is going to generate a maximum ROI.
The reason is that a digital marketer will make effort to understand your business before writing a single line of code. He understands that your website is an extension of your business and should be built in such a way as to perform every business’ most important core function which is getting more customers/client for you.
An average web designer’s most important focus is on the beauty of the front end, site layout, stunning graphics work, color combination etc. This may cause him to overlook important marketing stuffs like – site loading speed, conversion rate optimization, search engine optimization, user experience optimization etc.
But if you have someone (or a team) that understands both worlds perfectly, you are bound to have a site that is not just beautiful, but one that is also functional.
Caution: Just because someone says that he’s a digital marketer doesn’t make him so. Some unethical persons can say anything to get you to open your wallet. So, be cautious.
QUESTION 17: If the website is slow, how will you improve my website speed?
This may sound a bit off as a question to ask someone you are yet to hire to design a website for you. But you should still ask.
More than 80% of visitors will leave your website if it loads more than 5-10 seconds. So you don’t want to take chances on this. There is always a likelihood that after development, your site will start loading slowly and some amateur designers will simply overlook it. Or they may blame the internet service provider if you complain.
The web designer should tell you convincingly what he would do if the site turns out to be slow in loading.
QUESTION 18: Do you have testimonials from past clients
Having verifiable testimonials from past clients is a very good way of gauging the competence of a website designer before you hire him.
The logic is simple – If any client will go to the extent of writing a positive review for a web designer, it can only mean one thing – The designer must have delivered far beyond the expectation of the client.
In fact, aside from the portfolio of the web developer you want to work with, a testimonial is the best yardstick you can use to measure a designers competence.
Word of Caution: if a designer doesn’t have testimonials, that doesn’t mean he is not good. It could be that he hasn’t been asking for it from clients. In my experience, no client will give you a testimonial without you asking for it. They may give it to you orally. But to pen it down, that’s always difficult.
QUESTION 19: When did you design your last website?
This is a very important question to ask because even though a web designer has a list of websites he designed in the past; it still doesn’t prove that he is current and up-to-date on the latest technologies.
If the web designer you intend hiring has not designed a new website in the last 6 months, you have to be careful because you may be dealing with a dinosaur. Web technology changes very rapidly and what worked last 6 months may be completely out of date and may even cause problems for you.
So you should be sure you are dealing with someone who is active in the game.
QUESTION 20: Can you develop a custom website?
You need to ask this question if you want a custom website. There is world of difference between a front-end web designer that uses a CMS like WordPress to design a website and one that can code a web application from scratch to finish.
Depending on the type of idea you have for a website, you should be very careful about who you will deal with.
If you hire an amateur WordPress designer to develop a complex database-driven web application like school or hospital management web app, you may end up wasting your money and time on him/her. So, ensure you get this clarification.
QUESTION 21: Do you provide training after designing the website?
This is important for you to know because beyond just having a beautiful website, you need to have it updated. Without being updated with new information on a regular basis, it will become stale and give your organization a bad name. It would appear as though nothing is happening in your organization/company.
The training should be able to get you up to speed on how to use some of the necessary features in the backend.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a physical exercise. It could be a step-by-step manual guide in PDF format or video. This can even be better sometimes because it avails you the opportunity of having a reference material at all times.
QUESTION 22: Will I be able to manage the website myself after development?
If you are going to have a website, ensure that it is a website that you or someone in-house can easily edit, remove or add new content. This can only be achieved if your site is designed using a content management system.
If your web designer creates a static website for you, it might become an issue in the future for you and your staff.
Therefore, it is essential that you know for sure what you are getting into.
Red Flag: If the web designer says the website is going to be a static one and you won’t be able to manage it yourself, don’t go ahead except you have some tech knowledge.
QUESTION 23: What are your payment terms?
When it comes to payment terms for web design, every web design agency has its own policy. But what you should never do is to hand over 100% of the web design fee to the developer.
The ideal is always something like 70% on commencement, 30% after completion, 60%-40% or 50%-50%. How much you pay upfront depends on how comfortable you are with dealing with the web designer. If he/she comes highly recommended by someone you trust and demands 70% upfront, you can go ahead. But if otherwise, you have to stick to 50-50 arrangement.
At eBrand Promotion, we normally do 50% at commencement and 50% when the project is completed and the client is satisfied. Over the years, I’ve come to find out that most first time clients find this a bit more satisfactory. But subsequent jobs, some even end up sending 100% of the development fee upfront.
QUESTION 24: How much does it cost to design website
If you want to know in details how much it costs to design a website in Nigeria click here. I explained it there in details with prices.
I specifically left this question for last. You should also do the same if you want to hire a good web designer in Nigeria.
I get a lot of calls on a daily basis from potential clients and some of them use this as their opening line. It should not be so. Some of them are people who follow me online and already know my level of competence while some others know next to nothing about whether I can even deliver on the job or not. Yet, the first thing they ask is the price.
Chances are that if you make web design price the most important factor when searching for someone to design a website for you, you will likely hire a quack.
Caution: From what I’ve known in the last 10 years, the inexperienced ones are always the cheapest ones. Don’t fall for cheap web design prices.
QUESTION 25: Do you have any questions/professional advice for me
When you want to hire a web designer, don’t turn it into a question and answer session. It should be a conversation. Also, ask the developer for her professional opinion and advice.
Caution: If a web designer cannot offer you relevant professional advice, it is likely he doesn’t know anything.
Finally, If you have read this article to this point, I’m 101% confident that you cannot make a mistake in hiring a web designer in Nigeria.
AUTHOR: Dr. Smart Okpi is the Creative Director at eBrand Promotion. He can be reached via 08105882416 or 09034244099 or just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I normally reply within a few minutes or hours (on weekends).