Find out how long their website developer has been in business and what type of projects they have worked on. There are many models for websites, and often someone whose past experience with a similar client type will be an advantage to you. Past experiences with similar business types should lead to quicker discovery because that website designer knows what options there are and what questions to ask.
Also, make sure that your developer is working with modern technologies and best industry practices, no matter if they know your business model or not. Modern practices lead to better search engine results and good usability across multiple browser types and operating systems.
Ask your website developer about their skill set and attention to best and industry standards. Ask if they are using most modern HTML coding, high quality CSS for best cross browser compatibility, smart basic search engine optimization practices, and a site that is foundational in that you can add more pages or content down the line. You may want to ask how far their technical strengths are in custom programming, ecommerce, content management system development, or other skills if you know you may need them.
A website company's work will most often speak for itself. Decide if you like their website design portfolio. A design portfolio will show you what styles a website company can deliver and what type of features to expect in their page designs. When you look at a website design portfolio, you can form questions about those designs that may lead to a better design for you. If you see something you really like, you can point out what you like about it, what you want, and what you do not want.
Ask for your website designer's client references. Who better to talk to than current and past clients? One should not feel strange about asking for this. A website is often not a small investment and one should be sure he or she knows what the website developer's customers are saying.
A website project requires proper preparation, attention to detail, collaboration, and more. Organization becomes as important as any of these items. You will want a website designer who can effectively communicate with you and your personnel, from project start to project completion. If you need a hand holder, hire a hand holder. If you want someone who will come in for planning meetings once a week as part of the project, hire someone who can commit to that.
A website developer needs to have organizational tools in place to keep the project on time and can get all involved to meet deadlines in order to meet time goals. Ask your website developer how a project process will go and see that you can agree to meeting times and other requirements for good outcome.
If you know when you need your website to go live, make sure your website developer will be able to make him or herself available to meet your deadline. If they have many projects at once, make sure they will make your project as important and will meet your time requirements.
On the other hand, if you require a designer who can be more flexible and accommodate you when you can make time, see that this can be done. If you know you want many designs or may change your mind in the middle of the project as to what direction you want to go, make sure you developer knows this and can work with you.
Developers may require more or less money depending on the flexibility you need. If you need the flexibility, however, the change in price may be an easier decision that if you did not.
Website designers have the luxury and flexibility to work wherever they have a computer with their website design software tools and utilities. A website client must determine what type of communication is required, especially when considering websites will need updates. Your website designer will probably be someone you will work with for quite a while if all goes well.
If your business is in Los Angeles, California for example, and you require someone to visit your office once a month, you should probably hire a website designer who lives in Los Angeles or nearby.
Many website designers teach themselves or take specific courses in school to be able to do what they can do. A degree is not a requirement, as nothing speaks for itself like a good website design portfolio, but a degree in a related field does add credibility. Degrees in Marketing, Graphic Design, Business (with emphasis in e-business), Communication, Programming, Sociology, and Psychology are additional assets.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the website designer you choose because you will most likely work with this person for a long time. Websites need updates and website trends change. You will want a website developer who will communicate with you about all of the things you can or should be doing with your website. Again, do you like the people you are about to hire?
Source: based on work by David Ephraim from a Los Angeles Web Design.