How to Choose a Web Developer

Once you have a detailed and thorough navigation map or menu and a brief with all your branding ideas, you need to start looking for the right developer to work with.

A web developer is the person that creates the code for a website. If they come from a marketing and design background, they usually know design and can be truly great at it. But for your site to be successful you must ensure they also optimise your website to perform well in the search engines.

Many, many web designers fall down and get SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so wrong. My first and foremost caution is to ensure your developer knows about SEO and works with it to the point of advocating SEO and shouting from the roof tops that they are SEO kings. You are not seeking just pure web developer skills, you also need someone with an understanding of how your web site appeals to your audience and Google.

In fact, them having SEO optimisation knowledge and foresight can make or break your website. I have heard this time and time again so I want to stress how important it is. It is easy to check; if they are good at SEO, sites they have built will come out on top of searches using the industry’s keywords.

 

How to choose a web developer for your start up business

A stunning design will brand your online business and bring you creditability, but it won’t drive traffic to your site. Our mistake, like so many other new businesses, was to get our website beautifully designed and then optimised after launch.  Wrong.

Almost all sites will work best if they are built and created during the web development process with optimisation as the main goal. If this rings alarm bells, don’t worry, it can be fixed. A poorly optimised site can be repaired, but you may be in for a lot more work.

 

If you find a DIY website interesting and fun, create your own. If you find it frustrating and confusing then pay a developer to do it and save a lot of stress and hair pulling.

We talked about your navigation map, and this is when it comes in to play once again. A properly designed navigation map or menu helps to ensure long term success and also gives your developer a damn good idea of what you want.

Thinking of Using a Developer?

A good way to start is to get referrals and recommendations from business colleagues. Consult your list of favourite sites and check the bottom of the page to see if the developer has a company name or link.

Don't forget to take a look at iHubbub's Freelancer Web Developers!

If not, don’t be afraid to approach the company and compliment them on their great site and then ask for the developer’s contact details. You can also try Googling a developer who may work within your specific industry.

FOR EXAMPLE: when we were looking to re-launch Remote Employment with the best job board software, we ‘Googled’ ‘Job Board Software Developers’, ‘Job Board Web Designers’, ‘Job Board Web Developers’ and found a multitude to contact.

Firstly, we asked all our main questions and then met them in person. This is vital to know if you can work with them, if they will help and support your ideas, how technical they are and if they are active search engine optimisers.

We had learnt this latter lesson first time around so it was important for us to understand how they worked with optimisation and a face-to-face meeting did the trick.

Friendly, open and approachable means you’ll strike up a good relationship, and hopefully create the ideal website.

Find out how much work they currently have on – ‘nothing’ is a worrying answer! Ask them what websites they have worked on and contact their clients to get a recommendation. Pitch your project to many companies, then sift through the replies and find the ones that reassure you the most. Watch out for comments on the strength of the SEO optimisation applied to the company sites.

Don’t just choose by price. You do get what you pay for, but websites can be as simple or complex as you want. No two developers will be quoting for exactly the same job, only their idea of what it entails. So the costs could differ widely. Some developers give ‘Rolls Royce’ quotes when all the client needs is a ‘Ford’.

 

How To Work With a Developer

In most cases, using a professional web designer will ensure that you strengthen your website strategy. If you have chosen the best and most suitable web design agency then you can maximise their skills throughout your website.

Their experience in strategy development, idea generation, designer tools, implementation and even follow up evaluation should guide you through what could be a somewhat daunting and stressful time.

When you think you’ve done the spec of what you want, go back and double the amount of detail! This is by far the most common reason for developers producing something you don’t want.

Consulting external advisers with specific design-related experience can also help you find the right designer. At one stage we almost went down this route and then decided against it as we preferred to learn as much as we could. Knowledge is power as they say, so learning about your site’s needs, will help you in the long run.

From the outset you should tell the developer how ‘hands on’ or ‘hands off’ you want to be. Don’t be scared of offending them if you don’t like something. Get everything you want written into the contract and have set parameters for finish times, number of drafts and what happens if you don’t like something.      

Paula Wynne is the author of Create A Successful Website and Pimp My Site ...

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