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How to Choose a Website Developer: 7 Traits to Look For

Do you need a website for your business or personal project? You can find developers on every corner of the internet, but which one is right for you?

When you need a professional website, you can’t afford to make the wrong choice. Not all developers can capture a client’s vision and bring it to life.

Some decisions should be made quickly, but not when it comes to hiring a website developer, especially when updating your site. In this case, it’s wise to hold out until you’re sure you’ve found the right one that can ensure your website vision comes to life!

To find your ideal website developer, look for the following 7 traits:

1. Experience, experience, experience

An experienced website developer brings so much to the table. For instance, they’ll have a routine for working efficiently, they won’t waste time troubleshooting common issues, and they’ll have a wide range of solutions at their fingertips.

An experienced developer has done just about everything, from building websites from scratch, to building sites on dynamic content management systems like WordPress and Shopify. They’ve worked with programmers, graphic designers, digital marketers, and email marketing experts.

Need an expert in typography? They probably know someone. Need a professional SEO expert? They’re one phone call away. Experienced developers will have the knowledge and experience to meet all your project requirements.

2. Your developer is part of a team

Website developers who work with a regular team generally produce better work. Solo developers aren’t inherently bad. In fact, many solo developers build amazing websites for their clients and those clients couldn’t be happier. Although solo developers can build amazing websites, there are more advantages to working with a development team.

The disadvantages of hiring solo developers:

No guaranteed access to additional programmers. Most website developers don’t know every programming language used to create websites. They’ll usually know JavaScript and sometimes PHP, but there’s no guarantee.

Solo website developers frequently hire programmers and other third-parties on an as-needed basis. This means if you need a custom website, their go-to programmer might not be available for your project. When that happens, they’ll hire someone just for your project, potentially from a site like Fiverr. That’s where things can turn sour.

When your developer is part of a dedicated development team, every programmer you’ll need will already be part of your project.

Not enough marketing experience. Solo website developers don’t usually have sufficient marketing experience to design a site that supports a business’ marketing strategy.

Websites are marketing assets. They involve visual design and programming, but ultimately, the layout and functionality are based on marketing principles.

Building a website without input from a marketing expert deprives you of the foundation required to execute effective marketing strategies. For instance, if your developer builds you a sales page or landing page template that includes your main navigation menu, your sales and PPC conversions will suffer.

When your developer is part of a team, a marketing expert will help design the framework that supports digital marketing strategies.

Your project will take longer to complete. Solo developers tend to take much longer to complete projects. The more complex the project, the longer it will take. Solo developers spend a lot of time looking for third-parties, finding software, and researching solutions when they get stuck.

Having a website development team will get your website project completed faster.

Your project might get more expensive as it progresses. Solo developers are often DIY-type developers. They’ve learned enough to make some cash, but they don’t have extensive training or experience. Without extensive experience, it’s hard to accurately price a project.

As they realize the project is bigger than they thought, inexperienced solo developers will increase the price of a project multiple times.

A development team will have enough experience to price their projects more accurately. Any price increases will be due to scope changes, not developer oversight.

Hiring a professional website development team is the best decision you can make for your business.

3. They can explain what might cause your project scope to change

There’s a chance the scope of your project will get bigger, which will increase the cost of development. This is called “scope creep.” A scope creep occurs when the project requires work that wasn’t originally part of the plan.

Building a website is a creative endeavor, and it’s natural to want more features than you originally planned on creating. However, you need to know ahead of time what kind of requests might increase the scope of your project. A good developer will have this discussion with you from the beginning, and let you know how they handle scope creep.

Truth be told, many web development projects go over budget and time because of scope creep. Most developers are used to it, but to avoid “sticker shock,” you need to be aware of what will increase the cost of your project.

4. They aren’t selling their services based on paper degrees and certifications

Degrees and certifications don’t hold as much weight as you might think. While the top developers usually have degrees and certifications, not everyone with these achievements are good developers. Nowadays, it’s easy to take an online course and get certified by taking a multiple-choice quiz.

When you find a website developer with degrees and/or certifications, take their achievements into consideration, but don’t let that guide your decision to hire them or not. Some of the best developers never went to college. Instead, they learned how to develop websites entirely online through coding bootcamps and other courses.

If a developer is trying to sell you on their services based on their stack of certifications, be cautious. Online certifications are often a dime a dozen. It’s easy to be fooled by the “certificates” earned by completing free online quizzes.

The best certifications are ones that require previous experience to pass. For example, taking Microsoft’s 70-480 exam requires at least one year of programming experience, including JavaScript experience.

5. They answer your questions thoroughly

Interview your potential developers and ask the questions that matter. Your goal is to make sure your developer is qualified, experienced, and can handle your specific needs.

Here’s a list of questions to ask every developer you’re considering hiring:

How do you approach usability in your designs? This question will separate experienced developers from the get-rich-quick developers.

Experienced developers will have a strong stance on creating websites with the visitor in mind. They’ll talk about usability testing to make sure the user always comes first.

Have you worked on projects similar to mine, and may I see your work? Great developers will have examples of their work. Their work might not be a perfect match to your needs, especially if you’re creating something novel. However, they should have comparable work to show you.

If a developer hasn’t created a site like your project before, that doesn’t mean they can’t. However, if that’s the case, look for transparency regarding their lack of experience and a willingness to share expected challenges.

Can I talk with the rest of your team? If a team is involved, make sure you can talk to other team members to get a sense of how they work together. You don’t need your entire development team to be in-house.

Many reputable development companies operate with onshore, nearshore, and offshore team members. The key is to find a team that has experience working together.

If you can’t talk to another team member, be cautious. Some people selling websites aren’t developers, and are actually marketers who outsource their projects overseas. Overseas developers can do a great job, but if that’s being hidden from you, skip to the next developer.

Will I be able to edit my website later on? Make sure you work with a developer who will set you up with a back-end admin panel for future edits. Ideally, this should be visual so you can edit your own site.

Asking these questions will give you a good sense of who is truly experienced and who might be trying to make a quick buck.

6. They ask you plenty of questions

Good website developers ask potential clients a host of questions during a consultation. For example, they’ll want to know what you sell, what you plan to sell in the future, what platform you’re currently using, if you have any plans for expansion, if you’re going to need PPC ad landing pages, professionally written sales pages, and more.

There’s no set number of questions a developer should ask you, but make sure they understand what you need before giving you a quote.

7. Your developer can verify they own the portfolio they present

Scammers run their schemes in every industry. In website development, scammers misrepresent other people’s portfolios as their own in order to get a deposit. Before committing to a developer, make sure that person actually owns the portfolio they provide to show their work.

There are two safeguards you can implement. The first is to ask the developer to upload a specific text file to a new directory on their website. For example, if their portfolio is on www.Portfolio.com, ask them to upload a text file with the words “I love coffee” to www.Pofolio.com/coffee/coffee.txt.

The other safeguard is to contact the developer directly from their website to verify they are the same person. Hopefully, you’re not talking to a scammer, but if you are, it will become obvious quickly.

8. They won’t give you a quote until they understand your project

Good developers need to know they can create a project before giving a quote. Even for flat-rate projects, they’ll need to be certain your project fits within their flat-rate requirements.

Ask potential developers to explain their understanding of your project based on what you’ve shared. They should be able to repeat your project requirements in their own words before giving you a quote.

Make sure your developer understands the scope of your project, including customizations and requirements that may involve third-party contractors. Without a solid understanding, your quote might be off by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Get an affordable, professional website with our team of expert website developers

Whether you’re aiming to grow your business or increase your personal reach, you need a website.

At Website.Design, our development teams can create any web project, from membership websites to ecommerce and more. Whether you’re selling physical products, services, or digital downloads, we’ll build a website that will help you increase your revenue.

If you’re ready for a professional web presence, contact us today for a free consultation. A website that generates leads and sales is just one phone call away.

Ryan Nead

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