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A common mistake many business owners make when choosing a web designer in Melbourne is not asking the right questions to help them evaluate whether the individual or company they hire will deliver on agreed outcomes.

What’s important to know is that Investing in a website which looks visually appealing but isn’t optimised to generate sales or enquiries is a generally a poor use  of money, time and effort.

Whether you’re building a new website or planning a website redesign, here are some important questions you need to ask when choosing a web designer.

1. What control will you have over the website when the task is completed?

For websites to remain relevant, they need to be constantly updated with fresh content. This gives visitors a reason to revisit. It’s also an important factor in improving search engine rankings. Most websites nowadays are built using a Content Management System or CMS. The most popular among these is WordPress, which allows anyone with minimal technical skills to easily add video, audio or text to the website.

Avoid web designers who want complete control over your website and insist on charging you for making simple updates such as adding an article or  embedding a video, when you or a staff member could easily make the change in just a few minutes, if it’s built on a CMS platform.

Also, make sure you have full administration rights to the website, to ensure a smooth transition should you decide to terminate their services and that will help avoid any control issues.

2.  Do you have industry-specific web design experience?

One of the most common questions you will invariably ask when choosing a web design company in Melbourne, is the experience they have, the clients they service and some of the websites they have designed.

What’s really important to know is whether the web designer has designed websites for your specific industry and how successful they have been in generating sales or acquiring leads for their clients.

There are several components which make up a website, any one of these can act as positive or negative stimuli to a visitor browsing through a site. A web designer experienced in your industry in Melbourne, should know from experience which images, colours or fonts, for instance, should be used, and which ones should be avoided.

3. What is your in-house staff capacity like?

Find out whether the web design company has sufficient in-house staff to attend to your requirements when the need arises.

There are occasions when you may need to make an important change such as a price increase or a discount. In situations like these, a quick turnaround is essential, and the web design company you choose should have staff available to make timely changes to your website at short notice.

Also, find out how many of the agency’s web designers are in Melbourne. While it’s a common practice for a web design agency to build capacity through outsourcing, the significant time difference between Australia and countries like the Philippines could cause an unacceptable delay in implementing urgent website change requirements.

4. What is your pricing structure and are there any hidden charges?

Business owners are baffled how some web designers can build websites for just $500 when others charge $5000. Websites with a higher level of complexity can cost a lot more, sometimes as much as $30,000 – $300,000.

Just like anything else in business, you get what you pay for. Websites at the lower end of the spectrum are usually built using templates with rigid structures and there’s not much design flexibility. This limits your scope and if you want to add functionality at a later stage you may have no option but to start afresh.

Some website design agencies in Melbourne prefer to charge by the hour for their services, while others work on a fixed price model. There are pros and cons for each option. What’s important is to accurately scope out the work that’s required and ask the web designer if they clearly understand your expectations. Once both sides are clear, there’s less of a likelihood of cost escalations in the future.

Web hosting, stock photos, video hosting, copywriting, carrying out minor design changes and search engine optimisation add to the scope of the project and often results in a cost escalation. It’s important to ask for a cost breakdown before commencing the job.

5.  What ongoing support will you be provided with?

Once your website is up and running you could be lulled into a false sense of security, believing you can finally sit back and relax as you wait for the sales or leads to flow through. The truth is, a website is always a work-in-progress and needs to be maintained, just like a car which needs to be serviced to avoid breakdowns and expensive repairs.

Broken links, pages which take too long to load, issues with payment gateways & shopping cart integration and websites getting hacked are some of the things which can go wrong.

Issues such as these need to be rectified straightaway, and you need to determine whether your Melbourne based web design provider has the capability of addressing any issues which may occur.