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Frequently Asked Questions
when hiring a web developer, web designer or SEO consultant.

Things to consider before hiring a website designer

Before you hire us, here’s a bit of information from our most frequently asked questions about how we work, that we’d like to share with you.

If you’d like to hire The Smart Bear to design, develop, renovate or maintain your website, or to help you with your search engine optimisation, please get in touch to discuss your needs.

We strongly believe in being up front beforehand so there are no misunderstandings or nasty surprises. So, if there’s something you want to know that isn’t covered here, please feel free to ask.

We realise it’s a lot to read but it’s always best to be clear about what you’re paying for, right!?

Do you charge VAT?

No we currently do not charge VAT on top of our prices.

How long are quotes valid for?

Quotes are valid for 30 days before a contract is signed and for 3 months after a contract is signed.

Do we provide contracts?

We feel contracts are very important and we ask every client to sign a contract of our terms and conditions for the work they are engaging us to complete

Do we take deposits?

Yes, we take 50% upfront if the project estimate is over £120. And, for website builds or large re-development, the remaining 50% is paid off in two installments, after completion of each phase of the website and prior to go live.

Do we offer discounts

We don’t feel the need to offer discounts as our prices aren’t over-inflated to start with. We carefully work out how long it takes us to do the job and charge you exactly that so there’s little room for discounts and that way you know that we’re not over charging you for the work we’re doing.

What methods of payment do we accept?

We accept payment via BACS, or cheques. And, for website build payments and some products, we accept payment by credit or debit card. Please ask for information.

Do we provide a website project plan?

Usually, our clients come to us with a plan or brief in mind. Whilst we’re happy to help you plan your website using our knowledge and experience, we do not provide a formal report.
If you do need a written project plan or a full marketing strategy plan, we can help with this for an additional fee or you can purchase our Website Planning Guide.

Do we provide mockups of the potential design?

To save our customers money, we don’t provide mock ups. We prefer to provide a link to an interactive version of the ‘draft’ design. We feel it’s a lot easier to visual the final product rather than looking at a flat piece of paper. And, the time spent producing one could be better spent elsewhere.

What if you change my mind on the design?

We want you to be happy so we try to ensure you are on board during the design process, and major changes can be made at the First Draft stage. After that, however, major changes would be on a chargeable basis.

Can you change the scope of the project?

Yes, of course. If during the process, the scope of your project needs to change (for example due to a new marketing plan or a change in circumstances), simply let us know and we will review both the contract and the initial quote.
Scope creep during the project, however, is not allowed and any changes in the project scope must be officially communicated via email to allow us re-quote if necessary.
Example changes to a project:

A new service
A change in branding
A change of client-targeting
An additional function
A layout change after First Draft Stage
Additional pages to design

Do we use templates?

We do use templates as building blocks but only the best (premium themes) and ones you have approved in advance. Premium themes usually come with a lot more free after-support than bespoke templates but they’re not for everyone.
We’re coders so we can change anything you need us to, however, custom coding is not included with any of our website packages unless we deem it absolutely necessary. But it can be purchased separately if you want something bespoke.
If you’d prefer a hand built theme, we’re happy to provide a quote outside of our standard packages, this will include any ongoing maintenance costs, if applicable.

Do you have to have loads of meetings?

We understand you’re probably on a budget and you are busy running your business so we try and keep meetings to a minimum.
Although we love meeting in person (covid regulations allowing), we prefer to carry out consultations on a video call as it’s more efficient and eco-friendly.
Usually, we have an initial meeting to find out the requirements, then up to 2 more at various stages throughout the project, the rest being carried out via email.

Can you call us for a quick chat?

We don’t take unscheduled here at The Smart Bear – but there are good reasons for this;
1. We like to focus on the work our clients are paying us to do, and interruptions to that work means it can take longer and we’re not as efficient because our train of thought is broken – especially if we’re knee-deep in code or data.
2. We’re a small team and we simply don’t have the time to answer every call – especially as about 50% are spam calls, and so we have a lovely receptionist who will field calls and book people in for an appointment if you do definitely need to speak to us. We also have an online booking tool where you can directly book in, if you prefer.
3. We are neuro-diverse and it’s easier for us to process information that is written down (on email for example) or if we can see the person speaking (on video calls, pre-recorded videos, in person etc). We have found audio voice notes also work as we can pause/rewind if needed, which can be emailed or sent via Whatsapp.

Do we provide content or images?

Our clients are responsible for providing, and proofreading, content but if you need help with this we can source appropriate copywriters for your field of business.
Generally, it is the same for images but we do have a number of ‘stock image’ accounts meaning we can buy images on your behalf and pass the costs on. This can sometimes work out cheaper for our clients.
Content should be generally more than 300 words and no more than 2 sides of A4 per page and content stuffing is not permitted as this can both affect ranking, give a poor user experience, and slow down the website.
Remember, you should have the appropriate copyright or license for any content or images.

Do we input the content for you?

Each website package comes with a set number of pages that we will input for you and up to 3 blogs. And, of course, we will provide training on how to add your own pages and blogs.
However, we do not input more than three products or portfolio entries as we feel it’s important you are in control of this aspect from the start. We can, however, bulk import a CSV file for products making life a little easier.

Can we edit your photos or images?

Yes, we can! We’re happy to do the off tweaking and anything we think is critical to the design. There will be a charge, however, for any unreasonable amount of editing or cropping of images.
It’s always best to provide images in the size and dimension you want them to be displayed on the site, and relevantly named to aid Search Engine Optimisation.

Who owns the website?

Once the site is completely paid for the website and the domain (url) belong completely to the client, to do with what they want. The client is not tied to The Smart Bear and we will provide all files on request as long as there are no outstanding invoices on account.

Do we use websites in our portfolio?

We’re proud of our work and we like to display it in our portfolio once complete and officially launched. And, sometimes, we include a discreet link back to our website in the website footer. But, if you’d rather us not do any of these things, just let us know.

What training and support do we provide?

Training is included with all our packages and we provide access to our support website which holds a knowledge base and video tutorials.
Once live, glitches and bugs are fixed free of charge within the first 2 weeks and after that, charged at our normal hourly rate. We provide a 5 Minute Fix service for small issues or maintenance packages for ongoing additions. Layout changes or adding new content after go live would be on a chargeable basis.

Do we make changes to websites?

We’re happy to change or amend any website for you at our usual hourly fee. If you want to make major developments, we can provide a quote for you in advance or, if you need us regularly, we can set you up on a monthly maintenance package.

Do we have an admin charge?

We don’t have an admin charge, but we do have a minimum charge – this is because often the invoicing takes longer than the job, itself. So this makes sure we can do the smaller jobs that big agencies don’t want, and of course, still make a living.

Do we offer hosting?

Yes! We even have green hosting!
All our website packages come with basic hosting for one year (includes email account hosting).
Or we can organise it for your website if you’d like to move your website from your current provider.
However, we’re not classed as a hosting provider and use third party suppliers. We take no responsibility for the service they provide but we will always help you where we can if you experience any issues.
If you prefer to source your own hosting, just let us know – we may be able to get you a discount!

How long does a website take to build?

Websites can take anything from 1 week to 6 months to build depending on the complexity and the content being provided in a timely manner.
If there are any lead times due to other projects, or annual leave implications, we will tell you at contract stage so we can plan the timescales around it.
We do stipulate that all websites builds should be completed within their 3 month time slot unless there are any unusual circumstances. The free hosting included with the packages starts from the date the build starts.
To keep things running smoothly, we use the workflow template as below;
Contract signed
50% Deposit
Design agreed
Copy, images etc provided by the Client
First draft review
30% Payment Installment
Changes provided by the Client
Second review
Final changes provided by the Client
Final review
Hosting/Domain/Email acquired/transferred
Website Transfer and ‘Go Live’
Final 20% Invoice
All glitches reported by the Client within two weeks of being ‘live’
Training period
We prefer not to rush websites and so we don’t normally agree to tight deadlines. However, if it’s a must (and we’re available to help), we can turn a website around very quickly (the quickest has been 3 days!) but we would charge an additional cost to put our existing workload to one side for you.

Read our blog on how to get a website built quicker for handy hints and tips on speeding things up

Do you work with other developers?

Yes, but we only work with UK developers and we hand-pick them to make sure they match our standard of work.  We prefer not to outsource our work to other people we haven’t tested, or people in areas outside the UK, as we can’t control or guarantee the quality of work that comes back (meaning we’d have to double check everything which seems like a false economy to us). We have partnered with other developers which the client may want to use for part of the project, or was using prior to getting in touch with us, but we find this is a lot more complicated and time consuming with inefficient project management.

Will we liaise on your behalf?

If you need us to liaise with other service providers on your behalf, we will – this might include previous developers, IT companies, domain suppliers – the list is endless. However, we may raise a charge if it’s eating into our time.

This page was last updated: March 2023.

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