11 Things to ask a Blog Designer

I decided to write this little ditty because it's important for anyone considering hiring a Blog designer to know a few things before they get started.  I have 20 years experience designing, developing and optimizing websites.  I learned how to code HTML way back when there was no such thing as Facebook, Google, or Blogger.   I maintain an active interest in making sure my Bloggin' friends receive the quality service that they are paying for.

If you are looking to have a Blog design made, I'd be happy to help or point you in the right direction.

Selecting the "right" Blog designer is important.  If you hire someone on spec, and find out that they don't know what they are doing, it's not easy to back out.  It's doubly hard when the client is depending on the Blog designer to show them the ropes.  Essentially, when you hire a Blog designer, you are entering into an agreement.  You provide information (and sometimes graphics) and payment to the Designer, and in turn the Designer creates a design that fits closest to your ideas.

I have found that it is by far better to ask questions up front and know what you are paying for, the service you are to receive for that payment, and the Designer know what they are working on before the project gets started! 

11 Things to ask a Blog Designer

1.  What experience do you have?    This is particularly important because you will want to know that the Designer you hire has working knowledge of the coding, and design elements.  You also want to know that the Designer respects copyrights, and has his/her own style of design.

2.  What are the rates for the particular design I am seeking?   It's always a good idea to know what ALL of the upfront charges are before starting.  It's too late after the project has started to back out.

3.  May I look at your portfolio?   Most Blog designers will have a portfolio page on their Blog/Website.  It is recommended to look through the Blogs to preview the quality of the Blog designer's work but also to see if there is a design that may come close to what you visualize for your own.  Don't be afraid to ask for references.  A credible Blog designer will have no problem providing references.

4.  Who purchases the clipart used on my Blog, and what additional permissions are needed?  Many Blog designers have commercial licenses and special agreements with various clipartists.  Although, you are not limited to only those artists to craft your Blog.  Any additional permissions would be listed in the Terms of Use for the individual artist that you choose. You CAN use artwork from multiple sources, as long as you credit the sources properly and follow the Terms of Use for each one. 

5.  Where are the images for my Blog stored?  Blog designs require special coding that takes a path of an image and inbeds it into the coding. This is what makes the images show up on the Blog.  Some Blog designers use external services like Photobucket, or host on a website domain.  The problem with external hosting of images is that if those site go down, or the bandwidth is exceeded, or your Blog designer goes out of business, the images to become otherwise not available.  This leaves your blog looking like it's missing pieces.  This can be extremely frustrating.  I generally recommend that clients purchase a domain name, and a small hosting account of their own.  The cost per year is roughly $15-25.00 (tax deductable business expense), which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that the images will be available to you.
6.  Once my blog design is complete,  do I own it?    This can be a complicated question to answer. A lot of designers feel that their design is their own work (which it is), however the design has elements that the customer provided as well as paid for.  The artwork itself is copyright protected by the artist that it came from.  The design itself (coding, formatting) is owned by the Designer.  When you hire a Blog designer, you are purchasing essentially a license to use that Blog design as it was created.  Some Designers will frown upon taking elements off of the blog design, or using images for other things.  It's VERY important that you know up front what the Blog designer requires, so that you don't wind up losing your design. You may also ask the Designer if you will receive a zip file with the images/design. (You should receive this as part of the design service).

7.  Can I make any changes to my Blog once the design is complete?   This point goes along with point 5.  Some Designers don't have a problem with a client tweaking the design after it's created or updating it.  It's important to know what you're doing (ie: back up your Blog before attempting to alter it) before changing anything on the Blog.  This area will vary from designer to designer, but you want to make sure what the protocol is. Many Blog designers have stipulations that they do not want the design altered after it is complete. In part because their designs are works of art, and are used in their portfolios to gain new business.  If you plan on updating your Blog, be sure to let your Designer know UP FRONT.

8.  Do you have a maintenance fee schedule for updating my Blog?   Most Blog designers DO have a maintenance program.  It's important to read the fine print to make sure what you are paying for. The type of maintenance fees and longevity will depend on the individual Designer.

9.  Do you require a deposit prior to starting my Blog design, and is it refundable?  Most if not all Designers will require a deposit upfront.  This is done to demonstrate a commitment that you're hiring the Designer for the job, and to hold your space in line.  Good Blog designers usually have a waiting list of clients.  So it's a fair way to hold a spot.  Deposits are generally non-refundable.  The only time a deposit might be refunded is if the Designer cannot complete the job in a timely manner.
For many Blog designers, they depend on their design work as part of their employment.  It's real tough when you count on projects that were lined up, and then the client doesn't commit or follow through. This is why deposits are needed. That way the Blog designer isn't out anything while they have waited on the Client and the Client is more apt to follow through because they don't want to walk away from their deposit.

10.  What is the time frame to complete my Blog design.  This is an important question because often times a Designer will have a backlog of designs to create.  It's better to know up front how long the wait is, and then how long the design process will take.  The actual design time will vary depending upon whether YOU have all of your information ready ahead of time.  If you are slow to order graphics, or provide details/text,  it slows the Designer down.  From experience, I can tell you that it's very frustrating to start a job and then have to hunt down the client for information. Good designers work fast / efficient if they have all of the information in front of them at the time they begin the project. For my first Blog design, I waited 2 months before it was started.  I agreed to it because I wasn't in any hurry.  If you don't want to wait very long, then you need to be sure to ask where you are in the line up before you pay your deposit!

11.  What information do you need from me to begin the project.  Many Blog designers have a form that they will email you with all of the details that they need from you before they start the project.  This is great because it outlines everything important in one place.  I would go one step further to encourage you to keep a record of all emails/phone correspondence.  If you have all of your information ready before the project begins,  the design process itself will be smooth resulting in a positive experience and design that you can be proud of.

If you have any questions regarding this article, or would like a referral to a designer,  please email me here.

© 2013  Danielle Westvang - Crayonbox Learning - All rights reserved.

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