Your website is an important representation of your business and, in some cases, quite an investment.  Most potential clients and/or customers will check out your website and social network accounts before making the decision to physically contact you.  With your website playing such an important role in the growth of your business, it is important to find a web development professional  in the vast sea of “web development hobbyists” who don’t have the education or experience that is crucial for this type of work.

Is the developer you’re considering an actual professional, or just a hobbyist?  Follow the tips below to help guide you to a successful website launch:

1. Do your research!

Look into your potential developer/designer. Is their website nice (images are clear, colors go together, layout is clean and logical)?  Does it function properly (page loads well, works properly on all devices, all links work)? If not, don’t expect yours to look or function well either.  If yes, continue onto step 2.

2. Ask a few background questions!

A web development professional will have no problem with answering your questions.  Ask to see a portfolio and references if they do not have them on their website.  Ask how long they’ve been developing for.  Ask why they chose to become a web developer.  Ask about their educational background.  Is their educational background related to web development (Computer Science, Computer Networking, IT)?

Some people might tell you that a Computer Science degree is overkill for web development.  Well, some people don’t know what they are talking about.  Content Management Systems (which are used as a backend for most websites these days) are web application software systems, so it is important to have someone who knows how to work on them.  A Computer Science/Computer Networking/IT degree is also an indicator that the professional you are considering has extensive education and experience with servers.  I will go over this in more depth in step 3 since it is a very important subject.

3. Do they have experience with Network/Internet Security?

securityEveryone’s website goes onto a server, so it is very important that your potential web developer has training and experience with securing websites and servers.  Security protocols are not easy things to understand and they are constantly changing.  You need someone with a good foundation in internet security to not only secure your server, but to secure your website’s Content Management System as well.  In my experience, the average site experiences approximately 3 attempted security breaches (attempted hacks) per week … and yours probably will too.

Ask your potential developer about their familiarity and experience with server firewalls and if they will be including standard security measures in the development of your site.  If they know what they are doing, it will be hard to get them to stop talking about all the exciting ways to secure your site.

4. Ask about their standard project flow!

A few good questions to ask are:
– Do they have some sort of consultation process in order to understand what you are hoping to get out of your website?
– Does their project flow include web design mock-ups?
– How many revision periods are typically included before incurring extra fees?
– How long is their average turn around time for a project similar to yours?

5. Require a contract for your project!

contractActually, if you are dealing with a web development professional, YOU won’t have to require one because THEY will require one. Contracts keep both parties protected and help to ensure that your project will be completed on time and within budget.  Three things to keep in mind about contracts:
– Do not be afraid to ask questions about something you don’t understand in your contract.
– Do not be afraid to ask for things to be added/removed/re-worded in your contract.
– NEVER hand over any money until the contract has been signed by both parties.

6.  Are they a good fit for you?

Do you feel the developer/designer/agency is compatible with you and your business? Do you like talking to them and working with them? If you find them frustrating or absent-minded from the beginning, consider it a red flag. You could be dealing with your developer for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, so you want to make sure this is a person who is efficient, responsible, polite and treats you professionally.

Now you are ready to go out into that sea of web developers and confidently fish out a good one!  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or contact us here.