How To Choose A Web Developer For Your New Website Build Or Project
If you were building a new house, would you hire just any contractor to create your new dwelling? Of course not. In the same vein, the quality of web developer you hire for your next project may determine how well your online “home” looks and functions. I've found that there are 5 must-follow steps for any company that is looking for a quality web developer. If you're able to follow these steps, it will save you stress and money in the long-term.
Step 1: Test New Developers with a Small Project
Decrease your risk of 6 months of frustration and a potential loss of around £ 20,000
One of the fortunate things about hiring for web projects is that you don't have to approach it as an all-or-nothing venture. You don't have to commit to a developer for a huge project without working with them first. Testing a new developer by giving them a small project gives you an idea of what it's like to work with them, and it also helps you assess how the developer handles pricing structure.
Dipak C. Gajjar, a London-based web development expert, says, “When you’re looking to hire a developer, don't just depend on a portfolio, but instead try out with a small project first.” He also cautions those who are excessively budget-minded that, “Be aware that cheap means not always good. “Price is what you pay – value is what you get.”
Step 2: Get Clear on Your Vision
LOOK: Don't run around like a headless chicken
Once you have found a developer you would like to work with, write a list of everything you need them to do for you. Not only what type of site needs to be created and how you want it to work, but also what experiences do you want both your company and your site visitors to have.
If anyone is reading this who is single or maybe not single and unhappy, I highly recommend making a list like this to find your future mate. The Law of Attraction works, both for websites and relationships! Humor me and just write your lists down.
Examples of how detailed you need to be for a website:
- I want a responsive website, with the latest in technology to adapt to all browser sizes and capabilities.
- I want my site to be built on a WordPress platform. (Or whatever your favorite platform that you are most comfortable with. If you don’t know what platform to build on, then I’d recommend you go with WordPress.)
- When I’m logged as the admin, I want to be able to easily update the content, meta data, and the page templates.
- I want customised page templates for the landing pages.
- I want a website that makes customer conversion easy. A successful website not only looks good, it is also functional and easy to us Alice Elliott, the digital marketer known as “the Fairy Blog Mother,” provided a great rule of thumb for this: “Make sure the website gets the end user what they want with the minimum number of clicks.” Think about what an easy, rapid, and even enjoyable conversion might look like for your customers and prospects.
- I want a blog on my website. To help your developer out here, insert an example of your favorite blog homepage and page layouts and what you like about them.
- I want a shopping cart process or conversion process, which (describe what it does).
- I want a site like ___. (Find examples of sites you like to show to your developer. It's especially helpful if you are able to tell them WHAT you like about the site.)
- I want my website to be functional. This seems like it should go without saying, but give the developer examples of concerns about functionality specific to your site, so they can be aware of them from the start.
- I want my website to be ready by ___. (Set your deadline for the site going live.)
- I want this type of content and SEO for my site: ___. (More on this in a moment – see step 4).
Examples of how detailed you need to be to attract your lover:
- OK, OK, you're on your own here. I will say that you need to be AT LEAST this detailed in your description of a future spouse in order to attract a “someone” who's right for you, and not just “anyone” who fits in a couple of broad categories you've specified.
Step 3: Here's the Deal... Interview Vendors
Once you have a few developers who pass the “small project” test, it's time to interview vendors who specialise in the platform you’d like to build (i.e., WordPress), and specialise in your size of business. If you are building an e-commerce site, make sure they have awesome examples of transaction-centered sites.
Once you short list 3-5 companies, here are some interview questions to ask them. Don’t pass over obtaining this information!
- Ask about their process for onboarding and gathering client requirements. This is typically the make-or-break for successful collaborations.
- Ask for examples of sites they have built similar to the style of site you are looking for, whether that's a local business, an e-commerce site, or something else.
- Ask for references. You can start by reading client reviews on sites such as ours and others like Clutch. If you can’t find any reviews on line and the test project goes well, and you are still interested in working with the company, then ask the company if you can speak with their references.
- How does the company handle change requests, or items that weren’t planned for in the beginning, or took more time than they proposed? These are all important things to know.
- Ask about their guarantee. This company offers a money back guarantee for the initial design state. A guarantee can also be provided in the form of the details of the deliverables. No one can guarantee everything will turn out perfectly, but a written agreement of what was discussed does show that the vendor cares about your level of satisfaction.
Step 4: That's not all....Know What to Look Out for
Search and Content are separate skill sets, and almost always involve different team members than the web developer you're about to hire. If the web development company is saying they will do SEO and/or content, ask who at the company will be responsible for each of these items. You should also ask for examples where the company has created a highly converting site (lead generating or e-commerce), an SEO-optimised site, and/or a thought leadership content or product page content that they feel is top notch. This will ensure that you're going to get great service on EVERYTHING you're purchasing from this company.
Web development can be a big undertaking for your company, but help is available! If you have any questions about the process not answered by this post, I would be more than happy to help you. You can PM me here.
Best of luck for all your web ventures,