I recently had yet another conference call with a potential client that was beyond frustrated with her experiences with past web developers. As a result, this client is very nervous about moving into any sort of contract with another web developer. As a marketer and web developer, this really frustrates me. Clients should not have to be put through these experiences that involve frustration and many times a financial loss. In the end, business owners remain unhappy with the product they are given and the good guys like us, get a bad reputation.
The story is pretty similar to many of our clients. Their knowledge about web development is pretty limited and typically, they aren’t very computer literate. Dealing with this sort of thing is just one of the many hats they must wear as a business owner and they reluctantly deal with it.
They don’t know what they should expect from a new website, how long it should realistically take, or even what questions to ask to begin with. They wait for sometimes more than a year to get their new website up, only to get a website they are really unhappy with or one that doesn’t even function properly. Many of our clients had been through variations of this scenario multiple times until they found us.
So that you don’t have to go through all this frustration and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a product you aren’t happy with, I want to share a few tips that you can use in your search for a web developer. Granted, there are no guarantees, but hopefully, this will make for a better experience for you.
Get referrals from friends and colleagues – anyone you trust. Go with a business that has already proven its work ethic.
Most importantly – ask lots of questions.
What EXACTLY do they provide in their contract? Does it include hosting? Search engine optimization? Site maps? Webmaster tools? Do they submit your website to major search engines? Will they create a Google + Page for you? If applicable, submit your company to Google Places for Business? Would they be willing to set up a Trip Advisor or Yelp account for you if it is necessary for your industry?
After you provide all requested content, when can you expect to see a rough draft?
Are they willing to provide you a rough draft and THEN make changes to it before the website gets published?
Are they willing to work with your budget? This may mean creating a smaller website. Will they take payments? Do they require a retainer fee to get started? Do they offer non-profit organization discounts?
Once the website is published, will they provide a limited amount of monthly updates for free? Or, will they charge you for any and all updates at an hourly rate?
Keep in mind that from our perspective, some clients are difficult to work with. Sometimes a website can take months to finish because while we kindly request needed content, we occasionally just don’t get it. This can be because the client gets busy with other things, an emergency comes up, or their business changes in a new direction and we need to start from scratch. There could be lots of reasons for this. To get the best and most timely results, make sure your web developer isn’t waiting on you for anything to finish or even start the project.
More likely than not, you have a vision in mind for your website, you’re excited about it and expect it to look a certain way. It’s important to, in as many ways as is possible, relay this vision to your web developer. We always ask for examples of websites that our clients like, what they expect to appear on the home page, the style they like – we really try to get inside their mind about this vision or idea they have. Your web developer should want to create a website that you are excited about sharing with everyone.
If you are ever concerned about the quality of work or even the commitment that your web developer has for your business, ask them for a mock-up. We gladly provide a sample of what your website could look like if you hire us. This usually involves developing the home page and maybe a few other pages, depending on the scope of the project. This is also a really great jumping-off point and opportunity for the client to give feedback and talk about what they want.
I also think like a marketer and web developer, that it is really important for us to educate you as the client. Whoever you work with should be willing to answer any and all questions, give you ideas, brainstorm with you and help you to understand this whole process and what it means for the development of your business.
In the end, this relationship between you and your web developer will hopefully be a long one and a happy one. As you talk with web developers about your project, select one that is willing to work with your expectations (which should be realistic), your budget, and your goals. If you feel deep down that a working relationship with this person might not work, it really is okay to say ‘no’ and move on to the next one.
If you ever need a consultation about web development, please contact us – of course, it’s free.