Today’s guest post is by James Paden of Xemion Web Design. He has shared some practical questions you should ask before beginning a web design project.

Your website is most likely your most powerful and cost-effective marketing tool. It’s obviously extremely important that you select a professional web design firm that can see the big picture behind your company and your marketing strategy. Obviously, you should closely examine their portfolios and contact some of their existing clients, but there are also three key questions you should ask these designers before you entertain their proposals:

What makes a great web page?
You want your web designer to highlight ideal aesthetics and function. It’s important that they view your website not simply as a page of information, but as a marketing strategy that can be directly tied to your bottom line. If they have a little background knowledge on your company, the designer should be able to translate this knowledge into specific recommendations or ideas for your business. They will need time to come up with a comprehensive site plan, but hearing their ideas off the cuff will be an excellent glimpse into the philosophy and perspectives behind their projects.

How much experience do you have working with other companies in my industry?

This is an important question because within different industries a web presence can mean entirely different things. For example, if you’re in a technology field you will have vastly different site requirements than if you run a children’s clothing boutique or a natural cosmetics site. Different industries often require different functionality and marketing tactics. Don’t let the fact that a firm has not worked with a similar business stop you from working with them, but do take it into consideration. You want to be sure that the designer you hire understands your target audience and what motivates them.

How do you see your ongoing role in relation to my company?
A web designer may be an independent contractor or service provider, but when they work on your website they are a part of your team. It’s important to find out how they plan to work with you to develop the site, maintain it, and keep it updated. A professional web developer should have some suggestions for regular meeting intervals, and they should be able to outline a process that is always kept updated, fresh, and in good working condition.

These questions will not provide the total picture of the design firm, but they may help you weed out the desirable web developers from those who will waste your time and money. Once you’ve found a designer that answers these questions to your satisfaction, ask more questions and if it’s a local company, schedule a face-to-face meeting. Then you will want to check their references, examine their portfolio, and consider their bid.

Remember: a web designer is helping you to represent your company to the rest of the world via the internet. Choose wisely and you will see your business thrive. Choose poorly and you will have wasted time and money. And then you’ll interview design firms all over again.

jamespadennew5This is a guest post by James Paden, owner of the Xemion Web Design Company Directory. Before creating Xemion, James ran a successful web design company. In addition to running the directory, James works with small to medium sized e-commerce companies on improving website sales. If you have any comments or questions on this post, please contact him at

Roundpeg, an Indianapolis web design firm, can answer any questions you may have.