If your small business needs a new website or a website redesign, then you know that the task of finding and hiring a good web developer can be daunting.
Depending on the complexity of your website, the prices will vary significantly. You may find that what you want will cost more than you can or are willing to pay.
So here are our 5 tips for hiring your next web developer.
1. Create a Budget
Most business owners either don’t have a budget in mind, or they have one that is simply not realistic. Understand that cheap isn’t always the best option. As a matter of fact, depending on the functionality you need for your small business website, cheap may end up costing you a whole lot more in the long run!
Building an e-commerce website is an entirely different concept than building a static brochure style website. An online store is a very complicated website to build because it has so many components.
You need a secure website, inventory tracking, ability to accept credit cards, collect tax, ability to offer various shipping options, order confirmation emails, ability to offer discounts, refunds, customer accounts etc.
If you were building a brick and mortar store, would you rent the cheapest building you could find in a “not so good neighborhood” and expect people to visit? Of course not, you would research your area and find a good location. You would research your costs as far as rent, utilities etc and work those figures into your budget.
Well, an online store is no different! Put together a realistic budget based on your business requirements. Trust me when I say that web developers will thank you for having a specific budget.
If you are struggling with your budget, I have a suggestion. Come up with your budget and then cut it in half. Ask prospective web developers to show you what they can build for three different budgets – your entire budget, half your budget, and one-and-a-half times your budget.
2. Have A Plan
It’s very important to have a clear picture of why you need a new website, or why you want to redesign an existing website. If you need a new website then who is your target audience? What is your branding?
How do you want customers to find you? What impression do you want to give them when they visit your website? Do you need them to take some sort of action on your new website? If so what is that action (i.e. signup for your newsletter, fill out a form for more information about your product/service)?
If you are redesigning an existing website then why? Do you need to increase sales? Get more leads? Convert more leads? Build a subscriber list? Add e-commerce or build a membership portal?
Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, you can work closely with your web developer to accomplish your goals. You need to articulate your business needs in such a way that your web developer understands your goals and objectives. It’s critical that you are both on the same page as to the plan and your goals.
3. Get A Referral
It’s always easiest and best to hire a web developer based on a recommendation. Ask friends, family members and most importantly, business colleagues if they know a good web developer. Get their take on what it was like to work with the web developer they are recommending.
Was the web developer professional? A good communicator? Did they have a portfolio of active websites? Did they ask lots of questions about the business? Did they take the time to understand the business and the target market?
Myth busting time!! Some business owners look for web developers whose portfolio includes a website in their particular industry or business. For example a lawyer or a realtor will only consider a web developer if their portfolio includes an attorney or realtor website.
These business owners think that if the web developer hasn’t built a website for their particular type of business, they are not a good web developer. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best web developers are the ones that understand business FIRST, and web development SECOND.
Next time you talk to a web developer about your project pay special attention to the questions they ask. They should ask lots of very specific questions about you, your business, your goals and objectives, your product/service, your marketing plan, your target audience etc.
Once the web developer has a clear understanding of your business, product/service and target audience, they can build a website to accomplish your goals. If instead they talk all about the technical side of things and the shiny “toys” they are going to use to build your website….then they are not the web developer for your project.
4. Hire A Good Communicator
Let’s face it, most web developers are geeks. So there will be a certain amount of technical speak that you won’t fully understand. That’s okay, the important thing is that you have very open, and honest conversations regarding your project.
Take all the time you need to fully explain your project. If you have a gut feel that the web developer isn’t on the same page, then say so! Call them on it and have them repeat back to you what your goals and objectives are. If you articulated them clearly, the web developer should understand them enough to repeat them back to you.
If the web developer doesn’t have a good understanding of your business, then take the time to educate them. Trust me, the more open the lines of communication are, the better chance of the project being a total success!
If there are aspects of the project that your web developer explained, but you don’t fully understand. Then tell them so…and have them explain it in a way that you can.
There is nothing worse than getting into a project only to find that you aren’t on the same page. This causes lots of rework, time lost, scope creep, and is where budgets go out the window.
5. Hire a long term business partner
This is one most business owners never consider. They hire the web developer to build the site and once it’s launched they have no further dealings with that web developer.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the time up-front to look for a business partner who happens to be a web developer? Or conversely an awesome web developer who will be a great long-term business partner?
Consider all the time you both spend learning about each other. At project end, that web developer (if they are any good) will know quite a lot about your business.
They designed your website so that it attracts your target audience and will help you grow your business. Isn’t that essentially the definition of a business partner?
Your small business website is a huge investment, both in terms of time and money. Once it’s up and running, you want to concentrate on growing your business.
So why not hire that web developer to do what they do best, keep your website up and running to help you grow that business?