Tips for choosing your Website Developer
Business website design or redesign is a complicated procedure than involves multiple departments, stakeholders, their likes and dislikes and sometimes even a conflict of the overall vision that is needed to steer and stay focused on the job at hand. With so many moving parts, every business expects to have a reliable and confident web development firm that is capable of delivering the final product (website) within the timeframe and budget.
As all of us know, no two web firms are alike. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses which should be carefully weighed before the project is awarded. The points we mention below will help companies take a better decision based on their developer’s knowledge and previous work. All tips below are intended to remove the “surprise factor” from your decision making as the wrong website development company can ruin your online presence.
Experience doesn’t necessarily mean the years in business, though that is a strong indication of how well they have served their past clients. A web development company with different colors in their portfolio, web applications from varied industries and a number of platforms (frameworks and site development tools) to discuss with you will be a better one than the one with monotonous designs and a typical set of clients. Businesses should see the work portfolio of web developers closely. Here is ours for example. One should also look at their own website and try to understand how well they know design, layout, colors and programming. Their portfolio will give an idea of the vividness in their approach and the overall number of websites that they have completed. Some developers pride to showcase the programming and database platforms they work in. Like we at Cynexis have worked in multiple open source web development technologies such as Drupal, Codeigniter (PHP framework), WordPress, XML and JSON/jQuery. It is important to understand how well your web developers understand content management and eCommerce too (if you are looking for online payments).
When you interview web development companies, ask them about who their designers are, how many UI developers they have and the back end specialists they have hired. Programming, UI and designing functions are separate in every web company and if they tell you that there are specialists in every area, it is a good indication. This is the reason single person web shops should be avoided by serious businesses at all costs.
Cross-Functional Teams and the Knowledge of Web Marketing
Like I said above, single person web shops may be detrimental for your business. One person only knows so much and a team always outperforms a single person. you need SEO best practices to be implemented on your website, to be successful on the web,. Of course, the web development firm might add to the cost of the website redesign for SEO, but paying a little upfront helps in getting a search engine compliant website.
Your web development firm should not only understand SEO but have an SEO expert on the team that manages your website. SEO is important for eCommerce and non eCommerce websites, alike. Rather than being an afterthought, SEO should be included from the start when you redesign your website. SEO experts may give you valuable insights on small architectural or accessibility related issues which might be costing your website a lot in terms of website rankings.
Original Website Graphics
For a real business, design matters. Your nephew’s friend goes to a design school but that doesn’t means you can risk your business website with them. Anyone can use a template and add content and images. There are many websites which offer free web templates to be used too, like this one. However when you are looking for a real web development firm, you need to critically asses their creative strength. Your website is your online salesperson and you mention it on your business cards, in your offline promotions and even in the brochures and event hand-outs. A weak, template-driven website can kill your online web presence.
While we have already written about how much web design costs, this topic is worth discussing again as most of the businesses still make decisions based on price rather than skills and customer service.
Businesses need to carefully plan and define what they require from their website. Web development companies usually give an “estimate” rather than a final price in their proposal. As a client, you need to your due diligence on their pricing estimates and ask them to break down the price by phases or services. Most of the well known web companies do it in their proposal they send to the clients.
However, costs should always be looked at objectively. There is no magic cost figure for a web design project, and it all depends on the scope you have. Custom web application development projects can run anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, whereas a small 5 page static website can be done under $2000 depending on where you are and whom you are talking to.
Communication Skills and Customer Service
Techno-babble doesn’t help. Can your web designers explain in clear terms their web development plan, their programming progress plan, and their wireframes? Have they assigned you a central point of contact usually known as a web project manager or account executive? Do they use project management tools like Basecamp and how do they manage the files/resources on their servers?
How is their customer service? Ask for their three customers and call them to know if there were any issues in their projects and did it all progress smoothly with them? Responsiveness and an important factor and always score your web developers on this parameter.
Do Your Homework
Web development is a collaborative process and even before you start your hunt for the best website development company, it is important to develop your vision. Businesses should asses the current strengths and weaknesses of their website and then chalk out a complete plan of their needs and wants. If you separate your needs in categories like absolutely needed, good to have and “on the wishlist”, it helps you remove items at a later time. This helps in keeping the costs from spiraling up too.
You should also investigate about all the methodologies available for development. While this may be a tough task to know about each and everything, a knowledgeable client is appreciated by everyone. If you or someone in your team knows how to use Hotgloo or Pencil, it helps in laying out your requirements in a clear manner without ambiguity.
Good web developers are a rare breed, and the great ones are just a handful. Assess what you need carefully and then investigate, learn and investigate further. The more time you put upfront, the lesser would be the hassles down the line.
You can always rely on Cynexis for your web development needs too. If we do not fit in, we will recommend someone awesome who does. Do Call us 866.440.5772