What You Must Know To Hire a Quality Website Developer

January 25, 2017
Business Owners
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If you’re starting a business this year, most likely one of the first things you thought about was the website for it. That’s not unwise; most people get their first information about a business from the business’s website. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 97% of internet users say that the design of the website massively effects how much they trust the business.

But building a website isn’t cheap. Prices range from the do-it-yourself pricing of around $20 a month all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The US health care website for Obama care came in at $800 million and that was before it actually worked. While that’s probably a bit more than your desired budget, there’s no doubt that a website is a significant cost for your business.

If you’re spending money on it, how do you make sure your website does something for your business? After all, you don’t want to spend thousands and have a website that just sits there. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you get a website that makes your investment back.

What You Must Know To Hire a Quality Website Developer

Photographer: Luis Llerena

Design

If you’re currently branding your company, you’ll want to get that branding extended to your website. Some designers who craft branding experiences can also design for online experiences, but not all. Designing a website is quite different from designing for print or static design. The primary difference is the interactive element with the internet, but there’s also an entirely different user interface to design for.

If you don’t have branding done for your business, I’d highly recommend it.

If you don’t have branding done for your business, I’d highly recommend it. It is possible to move forward with a website using a pre-made theme that’s customized for your business, but it’s not ideal. If you have to start with a pre-made theme, either because of cost or the time involved with branding, schedule some time and money for the branding as soon as possible.

Content Management Systems (CMS) – WordPress?

Most businesses decide to use a prebuilt open-source content management systems because of the many benefits that come along with this, including crowdsourcing security and updates, and being able to do simple website updates yourself. However, beware of the propriety CMS. Typically these are a bad choice for businesses; it locks you into one company for website edits, so if there are issues with the company, there’s no choice except to recreate your entire website.

Of the open-source CMSs available, WordPress is by the far the best. Not only does WordPress have the highest percentage of developers, it also provides the easiest-to-use back end. You’ll be in good company if you decide to use WordPress, since about 25% of the internet is created using it, include the New York Times, Walt Disney, BBC America, and many more.

Not only does WordPress have the highest percentage of developers, it also provides the easiest-to-use back end.

But not always is WordPress the best choice. Sometimes it might be more effective to create a website from scratch. Keep in mind that a website from scratch will require either a custom created backend management system, or a developer to manage even the smallest edits. But despite this, if you’re not using any of the WordPress’s built-in functions, this can still be a better option.

Hiring a Developer

Hiring a Developer

Photography: Ilya Pavlov

Hiring the right web developer can be the difference between your business succeeding or not. Get one that doesn’t know what they’re doing, and your site could just sit there not bringing in any business – or worse, it could get hacked leading to Google telling all potential clients that your site isn’t safe. There are a few things you want to look for when you’re hiring someone.

A developer who responds in a timely manner. A person’s business acumen can often be ascertained in part by how quickly they respond to clients and potential clients. You should expect a response typically within one business day, two at the max. A longer response time could mean they’re not responsible, but it could also mean they’re too busy.

A developer with a contract. A contract helps both parties understand what’s being provided. If they’re an experienced developer, they’ll have a standard contract for clients including a fairly specific project scope area.

A developer with a portfolio of projects that you like. Different developers create different types of sites – different designs, different setups. Make sure you check out their portfolio and that you like at least a portion of the projects they’ve recently done. No portfolio? Don’t risk it.

A developer who provides realistic expectations. This is all about the hard facts – how long is it going to take? What exactly is provided? Is there training? How easy will it be for you to update? A website that works is not going to be an overnight endeavor. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – and you won’t get what you’re expecting.

Project Scope

I briefly mentioned project scope above, but it’s important enough to talk once more about it. Project scope is a summary of what you’re getting for the money you’re paying.

Project Requirements

The first step to producing a project scope is to figure out the project requirements. This begins with a discussion between you and the developer where you talk about what you want. This can be in goal form initially, like “get 10% more leads”, but ultimately it will need to be fleshed out into what will be created to get to that goal. For example, for the “get more leads” goal, are you editing the design of the form? Are you adding another button at the top that focuses the potential customer? Or maybe you’ve decided to remove something that’s competing for the user’s attention. The goals are important, but the project requirements are all about how to get to the goals.

Project requirements should be a deliverable; in other words, you should receive a document listing out the project requirements.

Project requirements should be a deliverable; in other words, you should receive a document listing out the project requirements. This is also a great first step because not only are you focusing on what you want to do, you’re also trying out the developer. When you pay for this deliverable, you can then decide whether you want to continue with this developer or take the deliverable elsewhere.

If you’re a larger company, getting the project requirements can be the first step before you reach out to get actual quotes for the project. Without a document including your requirements, you may end up with widely inaccurate quotes simply because companies don’t know what they’re quoting.

The Project Scope

Once you have the requirements for the project, you’ll want to make sure the project scope including the specific requirements show up on the contract. Project scope includes everything that will be done, what’s included, what’s not. The requirements for the project take the scope and talk about it more granularly.

Talk these through, make adjustments, and make sure everyone agrees with what’s included. If you have questions, this would be the time to clarify!

It’s Marketing

There are innumerable freelancers and companies that create websites, but not all of them focus on the marketing site of the website. In the early 2000’s, this focus on just having a site could be excused – that’s all anybody wanted. But a website is no longer a static brochure for your company or cause. It’s now an active living part of your marketing, one that should be generating leads, providing something useful to current customers, and introducing new customers to your brand.

At White Fox Creative, we’re committed to entering into a partnership with you to grow your company. We’re not just here to create a website and leave; we want to work with you to make your website the most powerful marketing tool for your business!

Ready to get started? Want to see what we can do for you?

Call us at 661-306-4443 for a free evaluation.

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