You are probably not an expert in website development. If you were you wouldn't be hiring a website developer I suspect.
I am often dismayed, even horrified at what some companies will do to make a few extra quid. Taking advantage of a clients ignorance is, quite frankly a scam.
Recently I learnt of a website a contact of mine had commissioned. It had cost something over £20,000 for what is little more than a basic website. It should be said that they are very happy with the website, which is of course the most important thing.
But he could have had a bespoke, professional quality website created for under £2,000. Actually, the website he got could have been done for even less as it was a Wordpress site based on an off-the-shelf template. Not even a bespoke design.
I get really quite annoyed when I hear of this kind of thing as it is straight forward abuse of someones' ignorance. Had this business known that the new website design was going to be a template bought for the princely sum of £39.90 then a different decision may have been made.
I have built up a reputation for absolute honesty in what I do. It hasn't always won me projects but it has got me fantastic loyalty.
So next time you are looking for a web designer be a little cynical about what they say they will do.
Questions to ask:
Can I give my new website to another developer once I have paid everything I owe?
The website should end up being yours to do with what ever you want, even get someone else to work on it or host it.
There are exceptions to this with some 'lease' type arrangements where you will be completely tied in with the developer. This does suit some but go into it knowing all the facts.
Is my new domain name registered in my name?
You can quickly find out if it has been registered correctly here on whois.net. This is crucial as your domain name is key to your online presence. You need to be the one in complete control of it. I would suggest buying the domain name before hiring a website designer. I use 123-reg.co.uk to register new domains. You can set up your own account here. If a developer asks you to update the IPS Tag or transfer the domain, don't. If your not sure then ask someone else who is first. Sadly website companies do vanish. If they do that while in control of your domain name you could have a major problem getting it back. You've been warned.
What, if any, content management system is going to be used?
This is sometimes referred to as the CMS. Most commonly the ones used will be WordPress, Joomla, Magento or Drupal. There are many others. The answer may not be that useful to you. What it does do is inform the developer that you're not complete ignorant. Maybe worth doing a little reading up on this which is always good advice anyway.
This question can followed by "Where do you get your templates from?". If, like me, they create genuinely bespoke websites then this might be seen as a trick question. You can make your own judgement to their answer. If your website is of the seriously budget variety then there is an excellent chance a ready made template will be used. You may want to check out my sister company beeweb.co.uk.