It seems that most people who have had websites built, at some point or another, had to deal with a negative situation when it came to working with a web developer. Maybe the developer didn’t produce the quality of work they promised they were going to, maybe they were horrible at communicating, maybe they missed deadlines, or maybe they just didn’t finish the job at all, even after you paid them some money. Sound familiar?
Here are some tips for the next time you hire a web developer. Following these tips will help you minimize the chances of dealing with a web development nightmare scenario.
1. How Long Have They Been in Business?
Everyone who became a professional at anything was new at some point in time. No one was born being an expert. You had to start somewhere, and we (Lubbock Web Guy) had to start somewhere.
But when you do business with someone starting out in their profession, the risk of receiving unprofessional service increases. Not necessarily because of bad intent, but usually as a result of inexperience. It’s true that in order to gain experience, they need work they can do in order to learn and get better. But do you want to be the client they experiment with? That’s an important question to ask yourself.
Maybe you’d like to help the new web developer out and give them a chance. That’s certainly very generous and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. If you have the time and money to spare (from things going wrong), along with a kind heart, then by all means give him or her a shot. You can probably even negotiate a substantially lower price since they are generally pretty desperate for business, if that’s your thing.
On the other hand, if your time and budget are limited, and you want some level of assurance that you’ll be getting professional-grade service, then it usually makes sense to go with a developer with a track record of relevant work experience and client satisfaction.
I realize that web development isn’t as crucial as surgery. But another way to think about it is: if you needed some type of surgery to save your life, would you want the doctor who is straight out of residency? Or would you choose the surgeon with many years of experience, even though he or she charges more?
2. Do They Have a Portfolio?
Does the web developer have prior work that they can let you take a look at? This can tie back into the “how long have they been in business?” question. But it’s important to keep in mind that some way or another, web developers do exist that have been in business for a while, yet still provide subpar or outdated work.
It’s great that the web developer you’re looking at using has been in business for 10 years. But do you like what you see in his or her portfolio?
3. What Do Their Clients Say About Them?
Any web developer — or any professional of any kind, for that matter — can hype their own stuff. We can all claim to provide “World Class Service,” use “State of the Art Technology,” or make “Customer Communication Our #1 Priority.” But is it actually true? Are there client testimonials or case studies available for you to access? Are there reviews of the company on other websites? Can the developer provide you with references that you can contact?
4. Do They Understand How SEO Works?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is pretty much what it sounds like: optimizing your website so that it can be found in search engines, preferably Google. It doesn’t do you any good to get a nice website made, only for it to remain invisible to the rest of the world. Think about having a billboard in an extremely rural area. It may look good, but it’s not very helpful.
SEO is a way of driving traffic to your website. Traffic that is interested in your product or service, and would like to give you money for it. It can be argued that a good SEO strategy is even more important than a great-looking website. Does your developer know how to make sure you’re found online? That’s the whole reason why you wanted a website to begin with, isn’t it?
5. Do They Stay Up to Date with the Latest Advances in Online Marketing?
Like everything else in this world, the internet is constantly evolving. The internet that exists today isn’t the same as the internet that existed five years ago, and the internet that existed five years ago wasn’t the same internet that existed five years before that, etc.
And with these macro changes in the overall internet landscape come micro changes in the businesses and websites that operate within it. As technology advances, business and marketing strategies must adapt to stay relevant. So the question is: does the web developer you’re thinking about using go with the flow of the internet? Do they use the latest tools and technologies to keep your website up to date, or are they stuck in the online “dark ages,” where websites go to die?
For example, as of April 21, 2015, Google has announced that websites which aren’t mobile-friendly will be heavily penalized in their search engine. This isn’t a secret to anyone who works in web development or search engine optimization. But for some odd reason, websites are still being created that are not compatible with smartphones. If you’re interested in making money with your website (by attracting new customers), don’t let yourself be one of the people whose website is thrown into the internet junk yard by Google as a result of your web developer’s ignorance.
Hopefully this blog post helps you find a web developer that treats you well and provides professional service, even if it’s not us (although we’d be glad to work with you!). If you have any further questions on this subject, you’re also welcome to get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.