Hiring Web Developers: What to Know
The top 8 things you need to know before hiring a web developer. Discusses the common mistakes made by business owners when having their website developed by an outsourced company.
1. Basing your Decision on Price AlonePrice is always an important factor when choosing any product or service. For those who are not familiar with web design companies and don’t know what questions to ask, often the default is to choose the lowest bidder and this could be a serious error. It is very likely in the technology field to run into problems when awarding jobs to the lowest bidder. Web developers who quote low prices are usually taking some kind of short cut in their development. Some shortcuts are the omission of statistics or the use of template style designs. Although some templates look reasonably good, if your web developer has done work for other companies, even your competitors, your sites may come across with striking similarities. Once your site is completed you may notice new sites popping up in your community designed by that developer with the same template. In the end, you need to evaluate the price/ performance proposition and ask yourself if you really want the lowest bidder building what could be your most visible marketing tool.
2. Get Someone who can Provide Ongoing SupportMany business's web sites contain information or material that is incorrect, obsolete, or just plain out of date. Some web developers will move onto their next project and forget about your site's existence leaving you with no human support for future changes. Be sure that your web developer will look after all aspects of your website; a single call or email is all you should have to do to get what you need.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of StatisticsMake sure your web developer will provide you with detailed, real-time web statistics. Some developers may provide basic hit counters, or worse, no statistics at all. As the owner of the web site you need to see your web site's statistics to measure its effectiveness and make changes as necessary. Be sure that you have access to traffic, and detailed statistical information. Knowing which pages on your site get the most visits, how long visitors spend on each, which search engine sent them to you and where they can from are just a few of the tools that will enable you to periodically fine tune your web site for better results. Also, you should never have to rely on a web developer to send you reports - be sure you have online access to this anytime you want. Ask in advance if it is free with the web site or an additional cost or monthly fee. You wouldn't drive your car without a dash board – don't try it with your web site either.
4. Insist on Formal Training and ExperienceYour developer needs to understand design aspects and accessibility issues. This comes directly from having proper experience and training. Ensure they have the required knowledge of web programming to build custom applications from basic to advanced as your business grows. Database security and integration is essential when storing sensitive information on your website. Your developer should always keep up-to-date with upcoming technologies and programs.
5. Overlooking the Possible Need for ScalabilityOne major downfall of sites created by amateurs is the lack of scalability. At some point you'll need new features added to your site. Not only will it make your site more profitable, but it will make your job, and your staff members' jobs less time consuming as you begin automating tasks within a web environment. When the time comes to expand, your site will need to be scrapped and a new one created. This is one of those "pay me now or pay me later" situations.
6. Mistaking a Directory Listing for a Web PresenceMany business owners have a vague understanding of the Internet and how it works. Web directory listings may seem like an appealing, inexpensive solution to business owners who are not familiar with Internet marketing. A web directory listing is a web page within a larger web site. Capabilities on a directory listing site is minimal if any. Some will provide only basic company information and not much beyond that. Future development would be nearly impossible without switching to a real web developer. Any business trying to promote a successful image needs to have a customized professional web site with a unique domain name – www.yourcompany.com.
7. Be Sure You Can Pick Up and Move if You WantSome web designers lock you in with them for the duration of your site. They may actually hold the rights to your domain name (www.yourcompany.com), which means if you ever decide to move, you can't take your name with you because it doesn't belong to you. This is ethically and morally wrong. Always retain the rights to your domain name and have access to your registration information. If you don't take the necessary precautions at the start, it may cost you down the line as your site grows in popularity while you're stuck with a designer that has limited abilities.
8. You Should Need Only One Number to Call For Any ProblemHaving a web design company who will look after all aspects of your website will save you time, money and headaches. If you have any problems it's best to have one number to call for a solution and only one number. You don't ever want to find yourself managing an issue among various service providers, especially when the technical issues become complex. It is very easy for a developer to say "oh no - that's not my problem, you need to talk to your web host, or your internet service provider, or your domain registrar". Have a single person who knows what they are doing and willing to be accountable and solve your problem, even if they need to deal with a third party regarding the issue. At least you know you will be looked after with only one phone call on your part.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Written by Ryan Barichello, Development Director of the Toronto web design company LinxSmart. His website can be found at http://www.linxsmart.com