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You've been searching the internet looking at different web developers, trying to figure out how to select one. We know that performing this research can be confusing because you are not sure how to shop for a web developer. You are not yet a sophisticated shopper. So, we've set up some objective buying criteria, that is, things to look for, when shopping for a web developer.
When shopping for a web developer, there are basically 3 primary criteria, and there are ways to measure each.
First and foremost, you want to assess the reliability of the prospective web developer. You see, you are starting a relationship with this firm, and you want to make sure they are reliable. This means that when you have changes that need to be made, they are there. And, that they make the changes in an efficient and timely manner. How can you test the reliability of a web developer? There are several ways to determine the reliability of a web developer.
One test of reliability is if the prospective web developer is a company working from an office or an individual working from home. If your website is for your company, then you need to rely on another company not on an individual. A company can provide better response times since multiple staff can work on your project.
Also, you may want to ask the prospective web developer how long they have been in business. Another indicator is the office -- does the web developer work from home, or from an actual physical office. You may consider having your initial meeting in their office rather than yours. That way you can get a sense for the company, and the company's stability. Another indicator of reliability is their clients. Not necessarily reviewing the sites that they have built, but finding out who their clients are. Does the prospective web developer have big clients, little clients, clients with names you recognize? Looking at their other sites isn't necessarily a good indicator of reliability, but looking at their client base is. The number of clients they have, and the number of websites they've built is a strong indicator of reliability.
Also, how has the reliability been during the "sales" cycle (the period of time between your first contact and production)? The reliability and responsiveness you've experienced thus far is a potential indicator of future reliability.
The delivery process is the process with which your website is built and delivered. You need to ask the developer to explain the process, and then analyze if that process will ensure a website that is exactly what you want.
For example, the planning stage. Does the developer build out site maps and mock ups or wireframes before beginning production? Is there a project plan that identifies deliverables, staffing resources, time lines, and deadlines? Who is responsible for the content, and is that reflected in the process?
Are there progress meetings along the way to ensure that the project is proceeding according to plan? Can you see the progress during production in order to provide feedback? What about search engine optimization, is that considered during the production of the website? What about after the site launches, what is the process around changes? What is the process around billing, and what are the fee arrangements? Is there a deposit required? What about the design of the site. Is it fully custom, or based off of a template, or can you choose between those options?
Overall, how is your vibe with the web developer? Can you effectively communicate with them? Do you get along, and do you like him or her as a person? Do they understand what you are saying? Can you understand what his or she is saying? Do they use big fancy technical words that are hard to make sense of, or do they use common words that are easy to understand? You will be working with your prospective web developer during the course of your web project, and probably much longer. It is important to work with a firm that you get along with, and can communicate effectively with.