New web design clients ask a lot of questions. But, from my side of the desk it’s easy to see that they don’t always ask the right ones. That’s because they tend to think about things like portfolios and fee quotes – which are undoubtedly important – while overlooking a few more nuanced ones that could help them make a better choice.

To help you avoid the same mistakes, and to get bigger value from your next web design project, here are a handful of important questions I would advise you to ask a creative professional or team before hiring them…

What Kinds of Clients do You Prefer to Work with?

There are a lot of possible answers to this question, and all of them can be illuminating. Some web designers only work in certain industries or geographic areas; others prefer certain types of businesses or situations that represent a unique challenge. If you are interviewing a creative team that specializes in one type of client, make sure their capabilities overlap with your needs.

Do You Outsource Any of Your Work?

This is important because a large number of web design companies and advertising agencies don’t actually do a lot of work in-house. In many cases, they may farm projects out to other designers who are across town or halfway around the world. Or, they may do the bulk of the design work themselves, but get help with things like custom programming and search engine optimization. None of these situations is necessarily a problem, but you should know who will be putting your website together and factor that knowledge into the price you’re expected to pay.

What Happens After my Website Has Been Launched?

Some web designers just put together layouts; others consider the launch of a website to be a first step, and then devote themselves to things like Internet marketing and search engine optimization. Depending on what level of assistance you need – and can pay for – it’s a good idea to make sure everyone has the same expectations. At a minimum, you’ll want to know what happens after your website has been launched, particularly if things don’t go as planned or you need ongoing support.

Which Projects Are You Most Proud of?

When you look at an item in a web designer’s portfolio, you only see an image or website. You don’t get to learn about the work process, or the bottom line results that were generated. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask this kind of question during the interview. It gives your creative team an opportunity to highlight their strengths, and to let them fill you in on their biggest triumphs and capabilities. That way, you can see if the things they are best equipped to do match your situation, or if you need to keep shopping elsewhere for the expertise you need.

These aren’t questions business owners and marketers typically ask at the start of a web design project, but they can help you narrow in on the perfect vendor for your project. So, whether you plan on hiring me or working with one of my colleagues, I hope you’ll ask away and get the answers you need.