How to Choose a Website Developer

1 June 2018

Disclaimer: I’m a website developer, of course!

There are countless website designers and developers. How on earth do you choose the ‘right one’? It seems almost impossible.

At the bottom of this article is six questions you can ask yourself before signing anything.

WordPress development is a jungle of almost 100% unlicensed practitioners with no oversight of any kind. You’re a WordPress developer if you say you are and can get clients—your qualifications beyond that are a toss-up.
The Small-Business WordPress Developer Code of Honor

Reading this fantastic article has led me to write something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. How does a small business choose the right person for their website project?

Are you a new business without a website, or working with a new designer? The next website you build will be your first project together. It’s no surprise you might feel lost.

Perhaps the very concept of having a website built is completely foreign to you.

So here’s a few thoughts to help clear your path to finding the right website developer.

Choosing records

It’s not all technical

The internet, it’s on computers. So is your website. That makes websites sound super technical. So maybe your website developer should be the most technically savvy MIT-graduate? Not so.

Websites are inherently technical. Their success does not solely depend on them being the most technically advanced marvel of engineering.

Your website should:

  • Load quickly
  • Not crash
  • Work on different devices
  • Be easily read by Google (and humans!)

Those are simple goals that any good website developer should achieve.

Small businesses can be convinced to pay big dollars for technical features and efficiency that they’ll never see a return on investment for.

An all-updating, all-integrated, incredible website is a waste if that same website generates no sales in its first 12 months. Or has focused on features no one actually uses. Or worse, is so complex it collapses on itself.

If your website idea complex, consider building an MVP (minimum viable product) to launch first and test your ideas in the open. Then continue to build on from there.

Websites are modular – especially WordPress websites – adding features and improvements over time is the path to a successful site. Not over-investing up front and hoping it works.

Make a website that does the basics right. One that works and works well. That’s the baseline.

It’s not all marketing

The alternative to spending all your website project budget on development is a huge advertising spend. Prioritising marketing over development may leave you with a website that barely works. Driving people to a website that loads slowly or lacks clear information is a waste too.

The advice here again is the same.

Build a website which is a mix of:

  • Sufficient technical polish to work to launch
  • Quality, concise content and images
  • Sufficient marketing to convert to launch

Then improve over time.

Focusing on marketing without ensuring the technical side is correct can waste your money without you knowing. It’s possible to spend big on advertising for your website, meanwhile your website has crashed. Or doesn’t work on mobile. Or on some other device – and you’re not aware.

It’s about your expectations

A good website developer should care foremost about your expectations right at the start.

I’ve probably turned away more leads than I’ve qualified, from people have big ideas with small budgets.

It’s great to dream big, it’s just not always feasible.

  • Good apps are incredibly expensive to develop
  • Online stores are like opening a second business
  • Even simple brochure websites need ongoing attention

Without appropriately setting expectations you can quickly sign yourself over to someone who’s going to ‘build a website’. Then leave you with disappointment shortly after. By either not meeting or adjusting your expectations. Or lacking the marketing or technical expertise to even do so.

Questions about expectations are the first ones that any good website developer should be asking. Before you start talking features, design, timelines and budget.

It is about your business and your goals

Ultimately your website is an extension of your business, not the business that developed it. While it can be difficult to find the right person to work on your project, you will be the one that has to live with it.

Six questions to ask yourself before agreeing to anything!

  1. If you feel overwhelmed with technical details, are you paying upfront for features you don’t need?
  2. Are you confident that the marketing plan you’re being pitched is all necessary, especially at launch?
  3. If your developer hasn’t asked much about your business, are you confident they understand what you’re even trying to sell?
  4. Have you been asked what your idea of a successful website looks like? (Have you even considered this yourself?)
  5. Is your developer saying ‘yes’ to what you’re asking for because they’re going to give it a try, or because they have a history of successful websites achieving similar goals?
  6. Are you confident the person you’re talking to is the person actually building – or in charge of the people building – your website?

Remove a website project from technical details and advertising, and filter it down to a specific set of desired goals. This is the fastest way to ensure you’ll be choosing a developer, and spending your project budget, wisely.

“So I suppose you’re the perfect website developer for everyone then?”

Not everyone.

But I might be a good fit for your project, only way to find out is to get in touch.

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