If you talk with small business owners, it is easy to find someone who has a horror story to tell about a web development project gone wrong. Are there good developers out there? Yes. Here are some questions to ask or aspects to consider when evaluating web developers:
- Will they develop the site that you have planned, or do they force you in to a model they use?
- Make sure they understand the role your site will play in marketing your practice. Share with them your ideal client and the problems you solve. If they don’t understand marketing, this may be a challenge.
- Do they understand solo practices and small practices? It doesn’t have to be in your industry necessarily. Ask to see examples of their work. Would you hire that person/firm?
- Make sure you understand what they are saying. Do they speak the language of business or do they speak techno-geek that is like a foreign language?
- Do you have control of the site? Can you easily make changes without any complicated software? Do you own the website address? Do you control the hosting account?
- Will the site use standard technology that gives you maximum flexibility for the future?
- Do they understand how to have a site rank well in the search engines? Can they explain what needs to be done in order to raise your site’s rankings? Will they implement the search engine ranking elements that you have created for each key page?
- Will you get a site launched in a couple of months (or sooner) so you can make changes as your business changes? Be wary of a long project timeframe where the needs will have changed by the time the project is over. Get a project plan and make sure it is realistic.
- Will you have tools to monitor how the site is doing? Will you be taught how to interpret the statistics so you know what they mean?
- Will you be taught how to make changes to your site? Will they be there to help you if needed? How will changes be billed?
No developer will likely score perfect on every criteria. Make sure you understand their answers to your questions and you feel that you will be able to develop a good working relationship with them. Not every relationship will work out, so that is why you need to make sure that you will have control of your website and can move it to another consultant if necessary.