Finding the right developer to build a site that looks good, works intuitively and drives traffic can be key to growing your business. A visitor’s first impression can inspire them or deter them from moving forward and contacting you. But how does one go about choosing the right web developer?
Start by asking around. Find other business people you know and trust and ask them for recommendations. Go online, look at other websites. If you find one you like,write down the contact information of the company that built it. Once you have a list of potential developers, call them. The information you collect through this process will help narrow down your options.
Here are five important questions to ask your prospective web developer:
1. Can you provide me with a list of references, including a list of sites you have recently completed?
You can tell a lot about a developer based on client feedback. Was the working relationship was comfortable? Did the developer respond promptly? Was the final product satisfactory? If you had to build the site again, would you use the same developer? Look carefully at the sites in the portfolio. Are they appealing? Easy to navigate? Do the pages load quickly? Does the structure make sense?
2. Upon completion, who owns the site?
This is a consideration that too few people know to ask. There are tools available that allow just about anyone to call themselves a web developer. This software can be proprietary, which means that if the developer you are working with goes out of business, your site goes with them, and you would need to start over from scratch. Even if they don’t go out of business, if you don’t own the site, you’ll be stuck if you decide you want to switch to a different web developer.
3. Will I be able to make changes to the website myself?
Not that long ago making changes to your own website was not a simple task. In most cases you had to go through your web developer every time. Now most good web developers include the capability to update content on your website yourself, reducing ongoing costs. Also, updating your own content regularly can improve search engine ranking, because search engines value sites that have frequent updates.
4. Will the website be mobile friendly?
This year mobile access is expected to surpass PCs, and mobile phones, in particular, play a huge role in local searches. While most smart phones will be able to display any website, users frequently have to zoom and scroll a lot to view the information on their small screen, and there may be problems with navigation menus. Studies show that when users have trouble navigating a site from their smartphone they often leave it in search of another whose content displays correctly. Just because your website can be viewed on mobile devices does not mean that it is mobile friendly. Before you have a site built, confirm that it will be.
5. What are the ongoing costs?
Monthly hosting fees for a typical 10-20 page website with no ecommerce should be about $10-$15 a month. If you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, periodic software updates will need to be performed. If you are not able to handle this task yourself, you should expect to spend about $300-400 a year on maintenance.
There are many things to consider before building your website, but you now have a list of questions that will help you select a competent web designer.