When you hire a developer, you should be thinking beyond the rote development of your site to its potential. There are plenty of people who are proficient in HTML, CSS, SEO or [insert acronym and/or technology here] but that doesn’t mean they’re going to build you a successful website.
A good website – and a good online marketing strategy – is more than just the sum of the lines of its code.
As you start your search for a web development company, you may have a pretty good idea of what you want your site to look like and what you want it to do.
You probably heard that you need title tags for SEO and you definitely want those. And maybe you’ve seen some pretty neat-looking sites with big, bold photos on the home page and you want those, too.
But it’s not enough to find a company that can give you what you want, even if you walk in with buzzwords like “META tags” and “photo carousel” in your arsenal. Instead, you should look for a company that can give you what you didn’t even know you wanted.
When “Good Enough” Is Not Good Enough
If you’re painting your living room and smudge a spot in the corner, you can probably put your brush away comfortably knowing that the wall is good enough and you can always stick a plant in front of it. But if you’re building a website to represent your business and market your products and services, you should be aiming for better than simply “good enough”.
A good development company knows when there’s a smudge on the wall and doesn’t shrug it off with an indoor bamboo tree. If you walk into a prospect meeting spouting about META tags, and your potential developer doesn’t stop you dead in your tracks with a hundred reasons why that’s exactly the wrong thing to be thinking about, you’ve got a problem.
If you want to head off the duds, you should pay attention to how often a developer nods in your general direction vs. sharing his insight and expertise.
Pay attention to how many times he says “ok” vs. asking “why?”
Pay attention to how many of your ideas he writes down vs. how many of his he offers.
You don’t need to know and understand web development to read between the lines and get a sense of whether the person you are speaking to will bring anything of value to the table.
Remember, you’re the expert in your business, so you should expect to be made comfortably aware of your developer’s expertise in his.
Because “Thinking” You Know What You Want Is Not Good Enough, Either
Sometimes you *think* you know what you want but it may not be the best idea. You may decide you want a Flash site or a search box. You may want a customer login or a photo gallery. Whatever you tell your developer you want, your developer should tell you whether it’s a good idea or not.
There are many developers who will take your money, do as you ask and go away. There are others who will tell you why it’s not the best idea to build your landscape company’s site in ASP.NET or your ecommerce site in Flash. There are some developers who will fill the letter of your requests and others who will consider your business goals before starting on the site.
You’re not a web developer. It’s not your job to be. So you want one who doesn’t expect you to know everything, who will guide you in another direction when things aren’t putting you on the best path and who will suggest new ideas that you may not have imagined.
And What About Later?
Before you start working with a developer, find out what happens when the site is done. Do they walk away and move on to the next project? Or do they continue to support your site and offer ongoing analysis and regular reviews to track the progress and success of your site? Will they be able to help you figure out why your traffic is down or how to boost your sales up? Will they be able to implement changes or will you be stuck somewhere between “I can’t make these changes on my own” and “My developer won’t give me the source code and doesn’t answer my calls”? Most importantly will they be able to provide you with measurable results to support their new proposals and suggestions?
Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Get a developer who can offer you the proof and then follow up with good marketing strategies.
A good development company is more than a development company. They should be able to take your vision and expand on it, bring ideas to the table, share their experience and expertise with you in beneficial ways and help you not only meet, but exceed your vision.
It’ll be pretty clear within a few minutes of talking to someone whether that person has original ideas and will add value to the process, or will simply take your requests at face value, deliver what you asked for and call it a day.
Want To Read The Whole Series? Check It Out Here:
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who You’ll (Really) Be Working With First.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who Answers The Phones.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out If They Proactively Offer Advice.
- 5 (More) Things To Ask Before You Hire A Web Developer: The Wrapup Edition