Hiring a web designer or web developer is often a leap of faith; faith that they know what they’re doing, faith that they’re going to do what they say and faith that you’ll end up with something that will help you grow your business.With most things technical it may seem like faith is all you can go on, after all, you’re not a geek – you’re a business owner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s look at some of the questions you should be asking to assess whether the web developer you’re thinking of hiring is worth your trust – and your money.
Can I See Some Samples Of Your Work?
This is the question you likely ask almost at the beginning of your conversation. And it’s a good place to start. Most designers have a style that can be seen from project to project. That doesn’t mean every project is cookie-cutter just that we all have an aesthetic leaning, if you will, similar to having a style in how we dress. Does that style appeal to you? Does it match the branding for your business?
Just like in fashion, web design style changes. Do the portfolio samples provided reflect current trends in style and function or do they sport the online equivalent of bell bottoms? If it’s the later the developer may not be keeping up with the technology and current web standards which means you may be paying for a site that will be behind the times from the get-go.
Who Do You Typically Work With?
Most firms have a type of client that they most like to work with; small businesses, online shops, financial services companies, etc. They should be able to tell you who their ideal client is without having to think about it. Here are some things to keep in mind, however.
Many prospects we speak with ask if we have experience in their industry. Our answer? Do you really want to work with a firm that’s done the websites of your 5 biggest competitors? Sure, you want someone who understands your business, but it’s more important that YOU understand your business and communicate that effectively. Your web developer’s job will be to help you identify the goals for your website and create a strategy to help you meet them.
But you also want to watch out for the “we do it all” firms; those that tell you whatever you need they can handle it. You can’t focus on everything and be good at it. They should be assessing your goals and needs for the project before promising the sun, the moon, and the stars.
What Are Your Core Strengths?
Successful businesses are successful because they know what they do best. They often offer a wider range of services but when you ask them directly, they are able to tell you their core competency and why they are good at it.
If your goal is to create a website that helps you to market your business, you want to work with someone who specializes in online marketing. If you’re opening an online store you will want to work with a firm that specializes in eCommerce sites. (Here’s another place to look out for the “we do it all” approach.)
What Is Your Process?
Most of us who’ve been doing this a while have developed our own way of working through a project. Project specifics may change, but our process won’t. The web developer you’re considering should be able to walk you through a typical project and their process and how it will benefit your project.
What About Maintenance?
Most of Marketing Cafe’s clients love being able to maintain their websites themselves; it saves time and money over the long-term. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to ask about a Content Management System (CMS) that will allow you to add and edit content yourself. How much control will you have? Can access be limited for some employees and others given administrative rights?
Not every business wants or is able to maintain the site in-house, however. What happens then? If the developer does the maintenance, what kind of turnaround can you expect? How much will it cost? What if you want to move the site later or work with someone else? Is it on proprietary software or server?
Finding the right web developer for your project can be a nerve-racking process – one that forced one client to confess “I just don’t want to go through that again!” But armed with the right questions to begin the conversation can go a long way towards ensuring you find the right partner for your web design project.