There are plenty of web developers out there these days, but unfortunately, not all of them are worth their price tag. Web development is a complicated, personal task that will end up making a huge impact on the success of your future enterprise; as such, you should do your due diligence before putting your project in the hands of a third-party
1. What’s your specific experience in my niche?
Different developers specialize in different niches. Some specialize in ecommerce websites. Others have unrestrained creative potential and are great at building unique pages that show off your brand identity. Others rely on templates for everything. This should be your first question: Does my developer know how to succeed in my specific niche?
2. Do I need a custom website or can I use a template?
This is a great question for vetting web developers, because you can learn a lot from their answers. Generally speaking, custom websites are the way to go for companies interested in building out a strong digital presence, while template-based sites are more appropriate for individuals concerned about cost. Be wary of any developer who doesn’t offer both of these perspectives—developers who only push the fast and cheap likely don’t have the skills to do any better. And while custom sites tend to be better, they’re also more expensive to build. Prospective developers should be up front about this from day one.
3. What strategies do you have for SEO and building web traffic?
SEO isn’t an afterthought—it’s a set of specific principles that need to be integrated into your website from the very beginning. As such, your web developer partner should have experience with SEO and know how to structure your website to generate traffic. Ask them how navigation menus, CTAs, keyword implementation, and linking structures will be handled. If they don’t have answers, or claim that’s not their job, you can probably do better.
4. Will any part of my project be outsourced?
Yes, unfortunately, even outsourcers are outsourcing these days. And while this isn’t necessarily a problem (it might keep costs down!) your prospective developer should be up front about it. If they’re outsourcing, they may be more prone to project delays or unexpected speed bumps that come when working with multiple agencies. Be aware of these issues and don’t be afraid to look elsewhere if the developer won’t handle your whole project in-house.
5. How long will the project take?
Some developers hate this question, because the specifics are unique to every project. However, they should be able to provide a rough estimate based on their past work. Make sure your developer partner can map out a timetable of deliverables to keep you informed about your website’s progress.
6. What happens if you end up going over budget?
Qualified web developers generally have a good idea of their workflows and the associated costs, but unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they can predict every potential speed bump that may interrupt development. Whether or not this is acceptable is up to you, but if so, make sure your developer clearly outlines the responsibilities of both parties and what’s expected of each of you. And on that note…
7. What will be required from me during development?
This last one is key. Web development is a service, but it’s also a partnership. Award-winning websites typically undergo a lengthy back-and-forth process, with both the developer and client sharing their ideas, suggestions, and strategies. If your developer answers this question with “Nothing! It’s all hands-off!” You should consider it a red flag.
Finding the Perfect Web Developer Partner
As noted above, there are tons of web developers out there these days—so don’t be afraid to be picky! Your website is the cornerstone of your digital presence, and you shouldn’t have to settle for a shoddy development process. Do your research on each candidate and find the one who can meet your project goals. The perfect developer is out there, if you know where to look.