How to Choose a Web Developer

Hiring someone to make your website is a decision fraught with pitfalls. It’s imperative that you do your homework beforehand, because making a hasty decision can end up in loss of time and money. Some things to keep in mind while researching potential web developers:

  • Are they able to solve your particular problem? Nobody wants “just a site” — you probably want a site that brings in clients, sells a product, or that has improved Google ranking. Web development is about more than just making a site; it’s about finding the solution to whatever problems a client has. If your web developer isn’t looking at your situation from that viewpoint, then look elsewhere.
  • Check out their portfolio. Does their design aesthetic match with yours? Do you like the work they’ve done in the past?
  • Do they have knowledge in the latest web technologies and design standards? Be concerned if your developer doesn’t seem to know what HTML5, responsive design, or jQuery are.
  • Are they familiar with social media? You will need a web developer that can tie into social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, etc. and knows how best to integrate your site with those technologies.
  • Do they have experience with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? All sites need to be programmed with a specific focus on SEO. If Google and the other site engines can’t find your site, then your clients can’t find you!
  • Read their testimonials, and ask for referrals. You want to know that this person delivers on what they promise.
  • Communication is key. Are they able to clearly communicate? Are they professional in their responses, and do they get back to you quickly? One of the biggest complaints that many people have about their web developers is that they disappear or don’t communicate well enough.
  • Do they have a well-written contract? Never do a web development project without a contract that clearly states the scope of the project, and the payment structure.
  • Can they fit you into their schedule? Any project should have a projected start and end point, and your web developer should be able to give you some idea of milestones and when they will be met.
  • Is their price in line with your budget? Developers will usually offer either an hourly rate or a flat-fee price. Either might be suitable for you, depending on the project in question. Make certain that you fully understand what you are paying for, whether it’s hourly or flat-fee.
  • Will they be around for the long term? If you need someone to assist with the site over the long run, then you will want to find a web developer that is willing to sign a maintenance contract with you.

Reasons NOT to pick a specific developer:

  • On price alone. Too many of my clients have made that mistake in the past, before coming to me; they chose to go with the cheapest option, and unfortunately, you often get what you pay for in this business. People who go with this option often end up with site code that is gibberish or unusable, and difficult to update.
  • He’s your high-school-aged nephew. Web developers hear this a lot: “My nephew knows some HTML, and will make a site for me for free!” You have to decide if you want a free, amateur site made by someone with no schooling or no experience, or one by someone who has been doing this for a while. Ask yourself this — would you hand your car over to just anybody to fix, even if it was free? If not, then why would you hand over your business’s online presence to just anybody?
  • They have no website or portfolio. This should be a big red flag, because it suggests that they have no experience. Don’t let their first foray into web development be your mistake.