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How to Choose the Right Web Developer?

Choosing the right web developer for your business website, either to build from scratch or redesign an existing site, can be a challenging task. Most business owners have some elementary knowledge of how websites work. Interviewing and asking specific questions can give you the insight you need to make an informed decision. Here are 15 […]

Choosing the right web developer for your business website, either to build from scratch or redesign an existing site, can be a challenging task. Most business owners have some elementary knowledge of how websites work. Interviewing and asking specific questions can give you the insight you need to make an informed decision.

Here are 15 questions you need to ask every prospective web developer before you sign a contract.

Will my business website be custom developed or will you use a customized theme?

There’s nothing wrong with using a theme. However, you will want to explore whether the desired functionality of your website exceeds the theme’s capabilities. If you are on a tight budget, a pre-built theme can be a great option, especially with WordPress.

A custom website means that every pixel of design and layout has been performed by the firm and the website has been “hand-coded” by a qualified developer. A particularly complex website may need this level of expertise and sophistication.

How will you ensure consistent UX across all devices?

Responsive web design is a must. It is a best practice for building websites that are mobile-friendly and have excellent UX across all types of devices. Understanding how each firm approaches mobile users and responsive design throughout the entire process will be insightful and perhaps eye-opening.

What content management system do you use and why? Will you give me a demonstration?

Most web developers have their personal favorites for a content management system (CMS). It’s beneficial to understand why a developer recommends a specific CMS platform in addition to the pros and cons of that CMS. Be sure that the strengths of the platform align with the needs and functionality requirements of your website.

Many clients assume that a CMS website functions the same on the back end regardless of the web developer. However, the back-end design of the CMS interface and the administrative functionality often varies greatly. A demonstration will help you understand the flexibility and ability of the CMS.

What is your experience in my industry and with similar websites?

This is especially crucial if your business is in a unique or complex industry. The learning curve for a web developer may be too steep or expensive. Depending on what you want the website to do, it may be best to find a developer with experience in your industry. If the web developer is highly accomplished, that may not be necessary. You want to find a developer who will be your partner and make helpful recommendations to content, site architecture, and UX.

How long will the project take?

The time to build and launch your website can depend on the complexity, scope, and schedule of both you and the web designer. It also depends on the developer’s workload and whether any work will be outsourced. The developer should give you an accurate estimate based on the project and provide you with a milestone schedule. You should also be given details on factors that would impact the timeline.

What will you need from my business to complete the website?

Successful websites depend on partnerships between you and the web developer. You will have some work to do as well. It may be supplying photos of your business or having your attorney deliver the legalese to post on the website like terms and conditions. Going in, it’s beneficial to know what will be required of you and your company, from a resources, time commitment, and deliverables aspect.

How will you optimize my website for page speed and search engines?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed significantly. Rather than using technical methods, SEO now depends on highly relevant, well-written content delivered in a user-friendly manner. Be prepared to discuss hiring a content writer. Most successful web developers have good relationships with successful writers.

There are technical best practices related to SEO and page speed that should be implemented and can impact your firm’s ability to rank well. So be sure to ask for each agency’s specific approach to page speed optimization and SEO.

What kind of testing and quality control checks do you perform prior to launching the website?

This is critical. You don’t want to launch your new website and then find out there are problems. Your website must render smoother across all devices and browsers. Your web design partner should conduct cross-browser testing on the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, as well as cross-platform testing on the latest versions of iOS and Android for tablets and smartphones. One mark of professionalism is a comprehensive checklist to perform before launching.

How will you handle hosting, security, and maintenance?

While not necessarily the biggest issue, hosting, security, and maintenance are critical factors in your website’s performance and success. Many businesses choose to have their web partner host their website to avoid having to manage the process internally. While this is often recommended, it’s important for your firm to understand what kind of hosting environment the agency is providing and what security hardening measures (Website Application Firewall) are being put in place to prevent intrusions. Along with hosting, the web designer should also be providing security, backups, and maintenance of the CMS and plugins to ensure optimal ongoing performance.

Can you work within our budget parameters?

While you may be hesitant to disclose budget information, it is useful for them to know. If they don’t know your budget, they don’t know what type of website they can build for you. You may want tons of functionality, which can get expensive. If that’s outside your budget, your web designer may have some options that are more budget-friendly. It’s important to understand whether or not a potential web partner can work with the budget you have and include as many or all of your wish list items within those parameters.

What’s included and not included in your price?

Every agency prices websites differently, so understanding what the pricing includes AND doesn’t include is crucial. You need to understand what you’re getting for your money, what additional costs may arise that are not accounted for in the proposal. You need to know how they handle estimating and billing for items that fall outside of the original scope.

What is the full range of your capabilities?

Websites are the greatest marketing asset that a company possesses. Therefore, selecting a redesign partner who understands marketing at a high level is critical. Also, website redesign projects often involve much more than just web design and web development. In fact, you’ll likely need the services of marketing strategists, content strategists, copywriters, photographers, videographers, etc. The agency doesn’t need to employ all of these service providers. However, it should have very well-established relationships with highly skilled people.

Can you provide client references?

It’s always a good idea to talk with a potential partner’s previous website redesign clients to get a better understanding of the company. What was it like to work with them? How did the final product turn out? How successful has the website been? What pitfalls should you be aware of? Speaking directly with previous clients is a great way to round out your due diligence and gain a more complete picture of your potential redesign partner.

What aspects of my project will be performed in-house vs. outsourced?

Understanding what portions of your website redesign will be or won’t be performed in-house is another important consideration. While certainly not a deal-breaker, having to leverage third-party vendors for elements of a website redesign project can add complexity, cost, and scheduling challenges. If a potential partner plans to use outside support, it’s important to know who they’ll be using and what portions they’ll be working on.

What is your web design and development process?

Process plays a major role in the design and development of a website and process can vary greatly from agency to agency. Every digital agency has developed its own internal process that guides its projects and some are better than others. Knowing what the process is, how it gets implemented and how it will ultimately impact you and your project is helpful to understand. It’s also important to know who will be involved in the project and what each person’s role will be.

Final Thoughts

Asking good questions upfront helps you hire the right web developer. Determining who is best equipped to build your website, as well as choosing who you want to partner with on the project goes far beyond their mere capabilities and expertise. That’s where asking great questions and listening for great answers are key to the selection process.

Our Mission

Since being founded in 2009 our longevity in the web design industry and repeat business is positive proof of our commitment to delivering outstanding results over the years. We’re a dynamic team of problem solvers and critical thinkers who enjoy a challenge which you will quickly sense when speaking with any member of our team.

NOYO Web Development Inc. helps your business grow by providing exactly what you need, within budget, on time.