Is your website looking a bit tired and dated? If it’s not selling your business in the best way possible it might be time to search for a new website developer.
There are lots of website developers out there, so how can you decide on the right fit for you and your business? Here are 10 things to consider before you make that final choice.
1. Can I Check Your Portfolio?
For starters, how does their own website look? Is it modern, clean and does it instil a sense of confidence? Requesting details of their qualifications and experience should be relatively straightforward: if it isn’t, then start to worry.
One straight up sign of inexperience and lack of expertise is if every website they produce looks exactly the same. Using one template multiple times over demonstrates poor understanding of web development and an unwillingness to adopt current trends. Bear in mind that website design and code is always changing and if they can’t keep up, your new website will soon look old.
2. Are There Any Hidden Costs?
Any website developer worth their salt will clearly lay out their costs, ensuring no hidden charges pop up to surprise you down the line. Have a conversation about maintenance plans, hosting and monthly charges, ensuring you fully understand their offer before you make a decision.
3. Can I Edit Content Myself?
If your developer doesn’t use a Content Management System (CMS) or if they fail to offer you sufficient training in how to use theirs, you’re at risk of wasting time and accumulating costs. Why? If your site requires regular content changes, your developer will have to do it for you. So, you’re at their mercy when it comes to making last minute, potentially costly changes. Your ideal scenario should be the ability to make changes yourself quickly and effectively, so your user experience doesn’t suffer.
4. Do You Love What You Do?
It’s great to have a side hustle but if your web developer can only dedicate a few hours a week to building your site, your business isn’t going to go anywhere in a hurry.
A full-time web developer should be passionate about what they do, and committed to doing their absolute best for you and your business.
5. Are You Interested in My Business?
A one-to-one chat is crucial at this early stage. Will you gel with this developer? Are they excited about your project? Are they comfortable going through each stage of the process? If a developer is cagey about their process or can’t offer you clear timescales, then we’d advise you to avoid them. If they show genuine interest in your business they will work hard to ensure your new site works effectively.
6. Do You Offer Content or is it Something I Have to Source Separately?
Learn if your chosen developer can provide excellent, optimised content that will rank highly in search results. Not all developers offer this service which means shopping around for a copywriter who can work to your brief and timescales and who understands the intricacies of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and keyword planning. Your developer will probably have lots of copywriter contacts you can touch base with.
Unless you’re a seasoned writer, don’t be tempted to create your own written content. There’s nothing worse than browsing a stylish website with tons of grammatical errors and terrible sentence structure. Content is king, after all. Words can make or break your business, so go to the professionals.
It’s also worth ensuring your logos and photographs will be at the correct resolution and sizes for online use. Pixelated images at the incorrect resolution can instantly make a site look awful. If your logo is in a vector format it will scale to all sizes without losing quality.
7. Can I Talk to Your Past Clients?
Website testimonials are all well and good but how accurate are they? If you know some of the developer’s past clients, get in touch with them yourself for a spot of impartial, authentic feedback. Alternatively, ask your developer for client details (with their permission, of course), so you can build a clear, informed picture that will help you make your final decision.
What kind of questions should you ask a previous client?
‘Are they easy to work with?’
‘Was the work carried out on time?’
‘Do they respond well to criticism?’
‘Would you recommend the company?’
8. Do You Keep Up to Date With Trends and Advancements?
The world of website development is always changing and your developer needs to be on top of their game. Are they willing to keep up to date with trends and advancements and apply them to your site?
A knowledgeable developer will be happy to advise you on what your site needs. They’ll get excited about usability and navigation, and they’ll be experts on Google. After all, user experience is Google’s number one priority, so it should be theirs too.
Another thing to consider is how your site will look on mobiles and tablets. Most users browse from their smartphone so your site needs to look great on a smaller screen. Plus, it’ll make Google happy as they’re penalising websites that don’t respond to screen size. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all.
9. Who Will be Managing My Project?
Knowing who will be managing your project will make your life a whole lot easier. If they’re easy to contact and great at communicating, you’re onto a winner.
Some companies outsource work which can complicate things. The tip is to ensure transparency at every stage of the process; this will guarantee ease of communication and keep costs down. If the developer plans on carrying out all of the work in-house your life will be a whole lot easier.
Is your chosen website developer a one-person operation or do they have a multi-disciplined team at hand? Either structure could create the site of your dreams but a lone developer may not have the expertise a larger organisation does.
If your project is a particularly big one we would recommend digging into the company’s history. Why? When you’re parting with a large amount of money you’ll want to know if the developer has previous form and financial stability.
Finally, find out who will hold copyright of the code on your finished site. In future, you may have to move your site and if you don’t own the code, there’s a risk you’ll have to start from scratch.
10. Will My Website be Off The Shelf or Custom Built?
If your website isn’t likely to require any adaptations or structural changes in the future, a simple template site might be perfect for your needs.
Bear in mind that a pre-designed template site will always be considerably cheaper than a ‘from scratch’ site. The reason? They’re quicker to throw up and far less labour intensive. Custom built sites, on the other hand, require a thorough understanding of website development. Your website developer should always be transparent when it comes to which method they intend to use and the price should reflect this.
Good luck on your website journey!