If you know that you need a website designed for you but have no idea what it should look like or what it should do, don't think that means that you're not ready to talk to a designer about actually having the site started. If you're at a loss as to where to even begin, here are some questions you can ask your designer that will allow them to spark your imagination and to get you going when you are ready to update your website.
1: What Are the Trends in My Industry?
Website designers are constantly learning new and updated tools that allow them to design great sites. Part of this learning process usually involves looking at some of the more successful sites on the web and seeing what they did with that technology that's really impressive. Sometimes, the way a skilled designer will use a technology is so clever that it becomes a trend. Ask your website designer if there are any trends in your industry that you may want to incorporate when you update your website.
A good site designer will be able to let you know what's really working for sites in your industry and how you might incorporate that technology as you update your website without blatantly ripping anyone off.
2: What Technologies Do You Use?
Some website designers plateau in terms of their skills and technical knowledge relatively quickly. You need to make certain that the website designer you're working with is always updating their knowledge and utilizing new tools when they provide a better way to do something than the tools of the past when they are helping you update your website. Right now, HTML5 and CSS3 are innovating the web design industry in very meaningful ways.
When you're talking to a web designer or a web design shop, make sure they know all of the latest technologies and that they at least have access to people who know specific technologies that some websites need to use when you update your website. For example, if you were opening up an eCommerce site, you would want to be working with a web design firm that had programmers who work in languages such as PHP, or another language that provides the same types of functionality, that eCommerce sites need to do business.
Be sure you ask your website designer if they have any programs you can sign up for that allow you an easy way to get maintenance done on your site. Websites are enormously complicated and, sometimes, you'll find that some element of yours needs to be replaced or rewritten or that one of the technologies you've used has become outdated and the site needs to be updated because of that. Most good website designers rely on repeat clients quite a bit and, because of that, most of them will be more than happy to come to some sort of arrangement for maintenance on your site.
Another important thing to keep in mind when you update your website and about site maintenance is that you need to make certain that your web designers design your site up to web authoring standards. If everything is done according to the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium, another designer should be able to move in and make changes to your site if your old designer is no longer available. If the designer you're using isn't one who adheres to standards, other designers may have a very difficult time figuring out their code or may spend a great deal of time going through that code and fixing errors.
These three questions can give you a rather complete picture of how working with the website designer will go when you update your website. Essentially, you'll be asking them what kinds of features they believe would work for your site, how they would go about making those features for you, and what they could do for you in terms of maintaining the site they create. All of this is vital information when you are ready to update your website.