For those without much experience in the web development process, it can be hard to know what to look for in a web development company. In previous posts we have addressed Five Questions to Ask Your Prospective Web Developer and What to Look for When Hiring a Web Designer/Developer. That information is important. It’s equally important to know what behaviors and characteristics to be wary of. That’s why we’ve written this Ten Red Flags article.
Ensure that you hire the right media partner. Watch out for these red flags.
1. Big Red Flag:They don’t ask any questions about your business, customers or goals.
Every business and every website is different. In fact, it’s those differences that make a business unique. The developer needs to understand your business before they begin the process of developing your website. A good developer is interested, curious and proactive. They want to learn about your goals for the site and plans for the future.
2. They don’t ask about your plan for ongoing changes.
Websites are not set-it-and-forget-it projects. It is important to make frequent updates to content to keep the site looking fresh and current. The best websites, the ones that deliver the strongest results, are constantly being tweaked. Have a plan for who, how and when changes will be made. This is critical to your success.
3. They don’t provide suggestions.
It is unlikely that you will know about search engine optimization and keywords. The developer should offer suggestions to optimize the information you provide. They should also offer suggestions for creating additional content to drive relevant traffic. Consider it a red flag if they are simply taking what you provide and not offering any constructive feedback.
4. They aren’t prompt returning calls or emails.
Most people show their true colors from day one. If your prospective developer is not prompt returning calls or emails, it’s quite likely that the behavior will continue well into the project.
5. The proposal is cookie-cutter.
Unless you’re looking for a cookie-cutter website, the website proposal your potential developer delivers should be specific to your project, with a thorough recap of the goals and objectives, and a roadmap with an itemized scope of work and timeline.
6. The development time is short.
Web development will take longer than you expect. You are hiring a professional. Give them the time they need to do a good job. Don’t rush it. If your developer is saying it’ll take just a week or two, consider this a red flag. It just is not practical to think that you can develop all the relevant content, get good photographs, design, review and test a website that is going to drive serious traffic in that timeframe.
7. No security plan.
Websites are constantly under attack from hackers. The best way to protect your site and your visitors is to keep website software up-to-date and use a high quality hosting service. Up-to-date backups are also vital. If the site is broken or is hacked, you will need to restore a working version. If your prospective developer does not have a plan, look elsewhere.
8. Big Red Flag: No portfolio or reviews.
Having an active portfolio and reviews from previous clients seems like a low bar. If there are no reviews or live samples of their work, what do you have to go on? How will you know if they are up to the job? How can you judge if they’re a good fit? Ideally, the developer will provide a client contact list so you can discuss with them what it’s like to work with this individual or company.
9. Their own website does not rank well in search.
What does it mean when a web designers/developer’s own site is ugly, out of date or worse? Does it have errors, is it not responsive or https? Is it rich with content? What if the contact form doesn’t work, the copywriting is out of date, or it has accessibility issues? In many cases, it means that they don’t really believe or understand how important a website is to a business.
10. They have no interest in an ongoing relationship.
You need a web partner. Eventually, something will go wrong with your website. Eventually, you will want to make a change that only a developer can make. Don’t add trying to find someone to help to your stresses. If a prospective developer is not interested in a long-term relationship, look elsewhere.
Why you should not ignore these red flags
Your website is likely to be your biggest single marketing investment. And, in many cases, it will be the first interaction a potential customer has with your business. Ensure that the developer you choose will be qualified, responsive and in it for the long-haul. Don’t ignore the red flags we have listed.