Choosing a web developer is an important part of your online business strategy. You want a professional company that is experienced in web development, not just web design. This is because developers are experts in the programming and technical side of making your website work, rather than just the aesthetics.
So here are 10 questions to ask when choosing a web developer:
- Can I see your portfolio? A strong portfolio with a large variety of different designs, shows innovation and helps you decide if they can give you the website you need. Each designer has a different style. Does their style match your target demographic?
- What is your experience? Do they have experience in your industry? If you want an e-commerce site, then it helps if they have web development experience in that area. Especially if you want marketing advice, payment advice and help with content.
- How long have you been in business? Choosing a web developer who has been in business for many years gives you confidence in their skill set, in their ability to communicate and in their capacity to meet your objectives. If a company has been around for a while, there’s less of a chance, they’ll disappear tomorrow.
- What are your core skills? Is the programming language they use well known or a bit obscure? Is the programming language commercial, or open source? This tells you how easy it is to find someone else to take over maintenance of your website if the need arises. Can they help you with social media, advice on content, art, graphics and marketing – or do they have employees who cover these areas? Are they experts in web development or just web design?
- What are the estimated costs and how are these charged? Compare prices between developers, but also make sure that you compare quality and after sales support. Also, do they want a single upfront payment, payment on completion or payments based on performance goals?
- Can I transfer the site to another developer in the future, if I wish to do so? This is important to your business. As a safe guard, you need an exit strategy that is clear to both you and to the developer. This can also again relate to the tools and software they are using to create your website.
- What type of support and maintenance will I receive after the site has been built? Websites require ongoing maintenance – so find out if support is included in their costs and what that support includes. If not, then what is the cost of future updates and support? Will bugs be fixed for a certain period under a warranty, or will bug fixes be charged from when the site is launched?
- What will you do to make my site search engine optimisation (SEO) friendly? It’s all about traffic and conversions – and includes, (i) understanding the importance of keywords and phrases to SEO, (ii) correct use of Meta tags and Title tags and, (iii) knowing that search engines cannot read images or Flash players and knowing how to fix these issues.
- What type of web hosting do you offer? Checkout their website, is it fast? Support is particularly important particularly if you will be hosting your email with them. Many web developers simply resell shared hosting and are not available for support after hours. Also, where is their hosting located? Australian hosting is much faster for Australian visitors, also server maintenance on overseas based servers, is often performed during Australian business hours.
- What if I want something out of the box later? Make sure they are experts in web development and not just in web design. Web developers can provide custom development services to bring parts of your business online, as your business changes and grows.