What To Expect When Working With A Website Designer

by | Building a Website, Web Design | 0 comments

If you’re looking to launch your business, then you’re probably investigating how to get your website set up. There are a lot of options out there, including DIY options – but if you’re ready to get a killer design and sleek functionality, you might consider working with a pro.

These are the common things that I see that you should expect when you hire a website designer. I’ve also included notes on my process so that you know how I’m different.

My hope is that this information will help you to decide if hiring a web designer is the right move for you. And, if so, the information I provide should help you figure out if I could be a good fit for your project!

CONTRACT

Most designers will have you sign a contract before you begin working together. This is for your benefit since it clarifies exactly what you will receive in return for your payment, as well as any additional terms.

If you’re paying for quality work (no less than $1,000 for a full site), I would suggest only working with a website designer who has a contract prepared for you. This is a sign that they’ve been around the block a few times.

The contract should outline the following things:

  • Number of pages
  • Additional functionality (e-commerce, etc)
  • Work with any other systems if applicable (email marketing)
  • Payment terms
  • Timeline
  • Refund policy

Make sure that you read the contract and understand everything it contains before moving forwards. Your website designer should be happy to answer any questions that you might have. I know that I am!

My Contract Process

All of my clients sign the Client Agreement, located here. This document outlines all of my policies, and what to expect when working with me. A typical item in my Client Agreement is that I include ‘Website by W&W’ in the footer of all websites I design. This must stay on the website for as long as you are using my work. Many site designers have similar stipulations.

An atypical item I have in my Client Agreement is the agreement of use of your website in teaching materials that I create for online programs and courses that I teach like Skillshare.

If you do not agree to all the terms in my Client Agreement, it’s not a dealbreaker. Some clients do not want their website used in instructional materials. Others want an extended timeline. For these clients, I create a custom Client Agreement. Some changes may result in additional charge that gets written into the Agreement.

Since my Client Agreement is generic unless alterations need to be made for a specific case, I create a custom Scope of Work document that includes all the specifics for each particular client’s website. By signing the Client Agreement, you are agreeing to the terms laid out in your Scope of Work document.

PAYMENT 

Almost every designer I know will have you make a nonrefundable deposit to book your place with them. This ranges from 25% to 50% of the whole website package price. 

The remainder of your payment will be due once the project is completed, although some designers will have the deposit to hold their time, a payment due at project start, and a payment due at project completion.

My Payment Process

For projects $400 and under, I require the full price in order to start work. I will provide a 30% refund for work completed if it is unsatisfactory. Hasn’t happened yet, but that is the policy!

For packages in the $400-$2,000 range, I require a 50% nonrefundable deposit to hold my time, and the remaining 50% is due when the project is complete. 

For larger projects ($2,000+), a payment plan can be implemented.

My projects are blocked out for a quick turnaround, so I do have a fee structure in place for timeline delays (this is outlined in the Timeline section below).

BOOKING YOUR DESIGNER

One thing to note is that most clients reach out to designers when they are ready to start work. But, many in-demand designers are not able to start work on new projects immediately and have a wait time. My wait time is typically around 2 weeks at the moment, but I know designers who book out months in advance. Be sure to take a peek at your preferred designer’s website and get in touch if you need to in order to find out what their wait time looks like – and leave your deposit to book your spot so that you don’t have to delay your launch!

My Booking Process

I typically book out about 2-weeks in advance, occasionally up to a month in advance during busy seasons. If you’d like to book with me, you can start the process on my Hire Me page if you have you just need my basic package. However, the best option is always to book an exploration call first so that I can learn exactly what our needs are and create a custom Scope of Work for you.

TIMELINE

When working with a website designer, the project timeline really depends on the size of the website and the complexity level of the design. WordPress websites also typically take a bit longer to create. For most designers, the ballpark project length I’ve found is this: for your average-sized website (5 – 10 pages), it will take between 4 – 8 weeks to complete. The quicker that you provide materials and feedback to your designer, the quicker the process will be.

My Timeline

I have a streamlined process that enables me to build websites efficiently. My engagements are designed to be short-term and your website will be ready in 2 weeks, if you provide all necessary materials by the start date and provide feedback at the appointed times. All websites (unless explicitly stated in the SOW) are expected to be completed within 30 days of the start date.

REVISIONS

Projects are usually structured around the number of revisions you’re entitled to. Most designers include 2-3 rounds of revisions in their website packages. If you require more editing after your rounds are up, most designers will continue to work with you for an additional fee. It’s important that you sit with each revision and provide comprehensive feedback each time so that you make the most of your revision rounds.

My Revision Process

I work with a first draft-final draft paradigm. I start with everything you give me and create a first draft. I ask that you sit with this draft for 48 hours before providing feedback and that you make sure that this feedback is explicit and honest about any issues you are seeing.

This is because any major structural changes to the website need to happen as I turn the first draft to the final draft.

At the final draft stage, you get two revisions to create minor edits, tweaks and add any missing material within the Scope of Work.

WEBSITE ACCESS

Most designers will develop your website in their own accounts and provide links for you to review the work. Others will request that you create accounts and provide access to them so that they can do the work in your accounts.

The upside to working with a website designer who does the work in their own accounts is that you will not have to pay for hosting or SquareSpace until your website is ready to launch. The downside is that you usually don’t have access to the work, so if you need to end work with the designer for any reason, you may need to start over from scratch. For this reason, I would prefer to have access from the start of a project.

How I Handle Access

For WordPress, I advise clients to set up hosting with either SiteGround or Bluehost and to then provide me with login credentials and I take it from there. You always have access to the site through your hosting account, even as I’m working on it.

For SquareSpace, if a client plans to pay for their services monthly, I advise them to create their SquareSpace account and invite me as an administrator to work on the website in their account. If a client wants to pay for SquareSpace with an annual plan, I can get them a 20% discount on the first year if I start the account. In this case, I create the website and invite them as an administrator so that they still have access while I do the work. When I’m done with the website and they have purchased the plan, I transfer ownership of the site to the client.

SUPPORT

It’s common for WordPress designers to offer support packages so that your website’s backend stays up-to-date. This is important because several components of your website require updating on a regular basis: WordPress itself, your website theme, and any plugins your designer uses. You should also have backups of your website created regularly. I have a blog post on WordPress website maintenance here.

Maintenance for SquareSpace websites is handled by SquareSpace itself. You should not invest in a SquareSpace maintenance package unless you will be making regular changes to your site content and need help with that.

My Support Process

I am available for a continuing client rate to make changes to your WordPress or SquareSpace website as needed.

I do have a routine monthly maintenance package for WordPress websites available at $35/month. Please contact me if you need help maintaining your WordPress website.

EDUCATION

Some designers will provide an education component so that you can make updates to your website on your own. If you’re not interested in ever going in and making updates to your website yourself, then you can skip this – but for most people, I recommend only working with a designer who will show you how to make changes to your website.

My Education Process

At the end of the website build, I schedule a Zoom call with my clients so that we can go over the website together. I show them everything they need to know and ask any questions they might have. After the session, I provide my clients with a recording so that they can review it as needed.

Well, there you have it – the in’s and out’s of what to expect when you work with a website designer! If you want to talk to me about a 2-week website build, you can book an exploration call here.

If you’d like to DIY it, be sure to grab my DIY Website In A Weekend Guide here if you haven’t already.

*This post uses affiliate links.

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Hi, I'm Kara

I’m one part website designer, one part strategist and one part accountability partner.  I help service-based solopreneurs get set up online with out the tech headaches!

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