Tips and Suggestions for Hiring a Website Developer
You might be asking yourself why I’ve taken the time to document these experiences and share them. It’s because I want to educate people on what happens when you hire the wrong website developer.
Through education, you can force change and through change, you can find success. Let me give you some of my tips and suggestions for hiring a website developer that will deliver as promised.
1. Do your research
I only meet about 10% of our website development clients in person and when I do it is a rare treat. We sell internationally so clients come from a variety of sources. The distance does not mean that the client cannot do his or her own research into us.
Our smartest clients have done one or more of the following:
- Thoroughly review our website and blog posts so they can learn about our process and beliefs.
- Read through our testimonials to see what real clients say about their experience.
- Check our online social media profiles for activity and customer interaction. While there will always be something negative, make sure these are outliers and the majority of reviews are positive and genuine.
- Check our BBB profile to see if there are any outstanding complaints and validate our rating.
- Review third party websites or community members of authority that speak to our work.
- If they are focused on SEO, they’ll make sure we show up on Google and Bing for important search terms which is a validation of our SEO knowledge and ability to execute.
If you can’t locate information on your website developer outside of their own website, be suspect. Be very suspect because there is a reason they are flying under the radar.
2. Know that bargains aren’t really bargains at all
This is a big one because we often find the source of website development disasters started with a discount, bargain, or sale.
Good website developers have full project calendars and they don’t need to offer discounts. They set a fare rate that aligns with their qualifications and experience.
When you find a developer who is eager to throw discounts out, they are racing to the bottom and doing so because they have to reduce prices to survive.
The discount will end up being paid to another developer who will clean up the code the first developer botched.
It happens time and time again. No one wants to clean up someone else’s spaghetti code. When we do, it takes us a lot longer than it should which means the client pays a lot more than they would have if they simply started with a quality coder at the beginning.
3. Articulate your project and define your expectations
If I have a prospect who cannot articulate their needs or provides short or vague answers, I have red flags going off in my head that cannot be quieted. This is because I need to understand your project to be able to quote it and deliver to it to your level of satisfaction.
If the prospect cannot or is unwilling to define their needs, it makes it difficult for me to deliver what is required for project success. I’m happy to help define these needs together, but I need cooperation and an active participant.
Collaboration before and after the sale is what delivers results.
4. Expect a lot of questions and embrace them
I ask a lot of questions. To the point that I know I drive some prospects crazy. But I do this with purpose.
The more questions I ask, the more I understand what the prospect needs and wants. This means I can have clear expectations defined for my team on what steps are needed to deliver during design and development.
Without questions, I’m forced to make assumptions. Assumptions are never good because they can be incorrect. And when assumptions are incorrect, someone is left with disappointment.
5. Stop hiring friends of friends and family
Just because your nephew took one college class in HTML, this doesn’t mean he can design and code a fully functional website that can support the sales funnel for a business.
He may be cheap or even free, but you’ll pay dearly for this relationship. And that payment will be financially and emotionally based.
Friends and family do not make good developers, designers, or webmasters.
Keep business as business and family as family.
6. Know what you’re being given and ask questions until you are confident on final deliverables
There is a lot of confusion between a truly custom website designed by a professional graphic artist and a stock website theme that a coder is customizing.
Website owners frequently believe they are receiving a fully custom website when they are really receiving a $50 website template that someone customized with a plugin. Remember Sally above? Perfect example.
Sally thought she was receiving a custom website built just for her. What she really received was a $50 theme that someone modified with a page builder plugin and then charged her $50,000.
We’ve heard stories of this happening to government entities, but that $50,000 jumps to $1,000,000.
Who would do that you ask? Lots of people and it is maddening.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of WordPress implementers who customize off the shelf themes for clients and they create great, low-cost websites. I’m thrilled these professionals exist because they offer a great service at a lower cost point.
The issue is when website owners are told they are receiving custom and they’re really given someone else’s website design that was simply tweaked a bit.
Know what you’re being quoted and specifically ask if you are receiving a custom website or a stock theme. The price point between the two will be thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, so it is important for you to know exactly what you are paying for and receiving.
The First Line of Defense Starts With You
If you’re planning a website redesign or launching a brand new digital property, do your homework. Look around far and wide, then validate your website developer and the project deliverables.
Educate yourself and ask lots of questions. If you’re considering hiring a website developer that doesn’t like questions, dump them quickly and move on to the next agency or freelancer.
The WordPress community has no shortage of wonderful, honest developers who produce very solid code and truly want to make your project a success.
The trick is to take your time and weed through the bottom feeders so you find the hidden gems. When you do find these gems, know they are worth every penny you’ll spend on them.