14 Answers to Tricky Questions About Providing Web Design Services

Have you ever been designing for a client when a sticky situation pops up?

Maybe they continue to ask for more revisions than you originally planned for. 
Or they don’t provide enough information for the pages of their website.
Or they don’t have photos that compliment your designs.

How do you handle these situations?

Over the past 3 years, I’ve run into numerous unique challenges while working with clients, and I often figured them out through a series of trial and error. 

But to spare you the trouble of having to figure things out all on your own, I’ve rounded up 14 tricky questions from my Freelance Academy course Q+A’s and I’m sharing the answers with you in today’s post. 

14 Answers to Your Tricky Questions About Providing Web Design Services | Elle & Company

1| "Regarding your web design services: do you create & present static wireframes or dynamic wireframes (partial site build with placeholder content or branded content plus primary heading and lorem ipsum)?" 


I like to meet with my clients early on in the web design process to discuss the functionality of the website and all the pages that need to be included. 

I take this time to educate them on user experience (number of pages in the navigation, calls-to-action, etc.) and we figure out the overall flow of the site. I usually sketch a simple wireframe during the conversation.

Then I take that information and create a dynamic wireframe. I don’t focus on the design details just yet; instead, I focus more on the organization and layout of the content. 

I explain to my clients that this wireframe is similar to the foundation of the house; if you skip over this step, the website won’t be effective. We aren’t worried about “paint colors” and “furnishings” just yet - this is just a simple starting place.

Once they approve the dynamic wireframe, I begin to incorporate more design elements like colors, photos, the logo, fonts, etc.

2 | "When you're building a website, what tasks do you handle, if any, that aren't directly related to design (domain transfers, connecting social accounts, email aliases, google analytics and webmaster dashboards, key word generation and writing page descriptions, etc)?" 

The only service I include with my design package is the domain transfer. 

I usually receive many questions about connecting social accounts, email accounts, analytics, etc., so I point my clients to resources on how to accomplish these tasks. 

If these tasks aren’t in your wheelhouse or you just don’t want to tackle them, I suggest putting together a PDF guide or even a blog post that answers your client’s questions on these topics. You might also consider partnering with another professional who provides these services or at least refer them to another expert in these areas.

If you do feel capable and want to offer these services, either include them in your package and raise your rates, or make them an a la carte service and charge for them individually.

3 | "When you're designing a website, how do you go about getting the correct, most useful text and call to actions from your clients? I've found that my clients are really confused about writing the content for the website when they haven't seen a mock-up of it (ideally I'd like to get all their client homework completed before project starts)." 

Most of your job as a designer isn’t actually designing; it’s educating. 

You probably know this already. Clients are paying you to design their website, but most of their questions are about topics that aren’t included in your services, like copywriting and calls-to-action.

If you have expertise in this area, consider setting aside time at the beginning of your client process to educate your clients about how to write content for their website. Factor that time into your prices and charge accordingly.

You could also add copywriting as an a la carte service, refer them to a copywriting expert, or partner with a copywriter. 

At the very least, consider writing a blog post or putting together a PDF guide with tips and strategies for writing website copy and/or include links to helpful resources.

Related post: Why and How to Educate Your Clients

4 | "What exactly should the sequence of events be for shutting down my Wordpress site, so I can transfer the domain to Squarespace and launching the new site with the blog ready to go but no actual posts on it yet? I'm also trying to flesh out a couple of portfolio items before going live, but I feel like it's holding my launch up (and consequently my efforts to seek new clients), and I'm wondering if I should go live as is and update the portfolio items as soon as possible or wait."

Two very good questions!

As far as the sequence of events for transferring your website goes, I wrote a blog post a few months ago on how to make the switch from Wordpress to Squarespace here: Making the Switch to Squarespace

I also have a helpful post on how the ins and outs of transferring and creating a new Squarespace site for clients here: The Ins and Outs of My Squarespace Client Design Process

I understand wanting everything to be perfect for the launch, but I agree - perfecting all the details can keep you from launching and push back your timeline. The longer you wait, the more potential clients you could be losing in the meantime.

The truth is that you’ll never be 100% finished with your website; there’s always something that could be changed or improved. 

Instead of looking at your website as a one-and-done type of project, think of it as a living project. 

Go ahead and put some items in your portfolio, and continue to add to it in the coming months. 

I actually recommend writing a blog post for each new portfolio piece to showcase your work and provide more insight into your design process. Not only is this a helpful marketing strategy, but it will ease some of the pressure to have a full portfolio before you launch!

5 | "Any tips or resources for planning the launch of your own website and blog? Collect emails first? When to offer freebies? Do you put the site up and say 'Under Construction'?"

Website launches are a great excuse for generating excitement around your business (and your client’s business). 

While you’re working on your website, I suggest putting up a temporary cover page so people can’t see the changes as they’re taking place. 

(If you’re using Squarespace, you can easily set up a cover page by following these steps.)

The cover page should include the date of your launch, an opt-in for your email list, social media buttons, and even a countdown to increase the anticipation.

In the copy for your cover page, encourage visitors to subscribe to your list to stay up-to-date on the new site and invite them to follow along with you on social media for behind-the-scenes looks at what you’ve been up to. 

You could even offer a freebie as a greater incentive for people to subscribe to your list.

When your site is ready to go, simply take down the cover page, send out an email to announce the new look, make a big deal about it on social media, and you’ll be good to go!

Related post: 11 Ways to Create Hype Around a New Launch

6 | "How many fictitious projects should I create so there's not too little in my portfolio?"

I would suggest 3 to 4. 

If you don’t have many items in your portfolio just yet, consider coming up with a fictitious project that’s in-line with the services you want to offer and the clientele you want to reach.

And instead of simply including photos of the project in your portfolio, consider sharing where you started and how you arrived at the final product. 

People enjoy stories, and by giving potential clients an in-depth look at your design process through a blog post or a more detailed project description, you’re highlighting your expertise and building trust (which is often even more important than the visual proof in your photos).

7 | "If I create fictitious projects for my portfolio, should I talk about the process as if they were a real client? Does that seem misleading?"

Fictitious projects are a great way to highlight your skills and prove your expertise. As long as you make it clear in your project description that it’s a fictitious project, it isn’t misleading. 

8 | "When you post a portfolio as a blog post, how much permission do you obtain from the client for whom you did the work. Do you change the name of the client when you do the blog post? Do you let them read the entire article before posting it?"

My clients actually look forward to me posting about their project! The portfolio posts have now become an expectation among my clients and something they look forward to because they drive traffic to their new site and increase brand awareness.

And because their project is highlighted in a blog post, their logo and collateral are being pinned and shared across social media, which provides even more exposure.

They usually share my portfolio post on their own website and social media accounts, too. After all, it was a team project! They did just as much - if not more - work than I did throughout the entire process, so they’re excited for their followers to see all the effort that went into it. 

I also retain the right to share sketches, mock-ups, and any other designs I create throughout the client process in my client contract. 

9 | "Where do you get the images and graphics for the projects? Client? Stock? Yourself? And, do you create all the icons?"

I ask my clients to provide all of the photos for their website, and I highly suggest that they have them professionally taken, if possible (unless they’re a great photographer!). 

That isn’t always an option, so stock photos can be an acceptable option, too. 

I set up a shared Google Folder for each client and have them drop all of the photos in there so I have easy access to them.

I do provide some graphics for the website, depending on the needs of my client and the overall design of the site. I always provide icons of some sort, but items like infographics and detailed illustrations take more time, so those are usually designated as one of the 4 collateral items in my design package.

10 | "One challenge I’m running into with potential clients is that their top concern is SEO. These are often people who will not be blogging, unfortunately. I know that SEO shouldn’t be an afterthought and should be implemented from the very beginning. I saw an article about a company that makes their sites “SEO ready” so that an SEO specialist can then easily take over. How much SEO do you include? Do you think doing very basics (alt tags, keywords) is okay then referring them to a specialist?"

Yes! Unless you’re an SEO expert and can confidently set up an “SEO ready” site for your clients, doing the basics and referring them to a specialist is a great idea.

You might consider partnering with an SEO pro to get your clients a discounted rate or, at the very least, having 2-3 SEO specialists to refer your clients to. 

11 | "Do you ever have clients ask for a site feature or certain functionality that you can't do with Squarespace? What do you do, if so?" 

There have been a few times when my clients request a feature that isn’t super straightforward or easy to set up with Squarespace.

In times like those, I either try to find a workaround or I reach out to my friend, Chaitra, who’s a coding genius. She can usually point me toward a helpful resource or write some code that will meet the needs of my client.

However, Squarespace isn’t the best option for every business owner, and I don’t try to force prospective clients to use it if it isn’t in their best interest. 

In the initial interest meeting, I ask them about their needs and how they want their website to function. If Shopify or Wordpress is a better option for them, I encourage them to go that route and refer them to designers who might be a better fit. 

12 | “How do you manage the number of revisions a client requests throughout the project? My proposal and contract includes a set number of revisions to the web DESIGN... but I'm still getting bombarded with additional revisions to each WEB PAGE. (For example, they want to move things around on the page, change a page's layout, change photos, change text, change prices on products for sale, etc.)”

Oh, revisions. The bane of every designer’s existence (kidding… kind of). 

I include 3 rounds of revisions in my web design process.

I provide the initial design all at once, give my client time to look over it in detail, and then we meet on Skype to discuss what they want to revise.

With those changes in mind, I do a round of revisions all at once and present the revised version to my client, reminding them that there are 2 rounds of revisions left.

Because when it comes to revisions, it’s helpful to comb through the site together and get out all of the changes all at once, rather than make small changes here and there. 

It’s also important to include the number of revisions in your client contract and remind your clients how many revisions they have left. Clear communication and clear expectations are crucial to keeping both parties happy and reach an end result you’re both proud of.

If your client wants more revisions, beyond what you’ve agreed to in your contract, charge them by your hourly rate (and be sure to include that in your contract, as well). 

13 | “Do you recommend using the Squarespace e-commerce option for selling digital products and if not, which do you like best and why?”

Absolutely! Squarespace is a great option for selling digital products. 

Not only is their interface extremely user-friendly, but I find it helpful to keep my blog, website, and shop all in one place.

Squarespace also makes it easy to upload your products, highlight them on your website, and keep up with orders.

For more information on selling digital products on Squarespace, check out this Squarespace Help article. 

14 | “Should you charge extra for integrations like Typekit if you are using fonts beyond what is available in Squarespace? Or do you have the client purchase their own Typekit account?”

Typekit is actually included in every Squarespace site! 

So as long as your client is paying for Squarespace, they have access to all the fonts included in Typekit.

Here’s an article on the specifics. 

Do you have any tricky questions about providing web design services that weren’t included in this post? Did any of these answers help you with a problem you’ve been encountering in your client process?