Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong!

Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong!

If you’ve joined us for our “how to hire a web developer” series, you’ve already got a bit of good advice under your belt so it’s time to take the next logical step and find out: who’s responsible?

This is not the same thing as “who’s in charge” or “who’s the boss”. And just because you know who you’ll be working with and who answers the phones, never assume you know who is actually responsible.

And I mean this in a very literal sense, not as in, “is my web developer a responsible person who can get the job done?” I mean, very specifically, when something goes wrong, when there’s a problem, a delay, an issue, a bug or some other unforeseen (or even foreseen) event, ask yourself this: who you gonna call?

If the answer is “Ghostbusters” you’re in trouble. In fact if it’s anything but “my web developer” you’re in trouble, so find this out up front.

The “Not Me” Syndrome

This question is especially relevant because many web and marketing companies outsource at least some of their services. Perhaps your web developer resells a third party hosting service or off-shores the programming.

Most developers and marketers, like us, offer creative services that include print design – brochures, letterhead, business cards, chocolate bar wrappers, you name it. But they don’t actually perform the physical printing, which requires an entirely different discipline and specialized equipment.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing, and sometimes it’s necessary in order to take advantage of specialized services, you should be very clear on who’s responsible when something goes wrong.

When your site goes down, will your developer take responsibility for resolving the issue, or will it result in a lot of finger-pointing between the programmers and hosting company that ends up costing you time and quite possible lost revenue as your site is stuck in limbo?

It doesn’t matter if there’s one programmer or a hundred working on your site. When there’s a bug or an error, who’s responsible? Will you end up stuck in a loop as the blame gets tossed from one person to another while you try to ferret out the truth when all you really want is your site to be fixed? Will it be your job to get on the phone with the various vendors or partners who are involved with your project and deal with tech support or phone queues, or are you smart enough to hire someone who takes care of the headaches for you?

Our business philosophy is that it’s our clients’ job to focus on their businesses. And it’s our job to focus on everything else. We maintain our own hosting infrastructure so if a site that we’ve developed goes down, our clients call us and we address the issue.

Many years ago, before we brought our hosting services in-house, we were resellers for a third party hosting company. And even though we weren’t technically responsible for the servers and their functioning, whenever one of our client sites went down, we took responsibility for calling tech support and spending our  time in the queue to get resolution.

Our clients probably had no idea that we lost sleep, lost hair and single handedly disproved our mothers’ admonitions that “your face will get stuck that way”. All they knew was that they could call us for answers. But don’t assume that this is always the case.

Ask first, before you repent later.

But I Didn’t Do It!

It’s tough to take responsibility for something that someone else does. Believe me, as project manager I’ve done my share of mea culpas because programmers have been behind schedule, designers have been uncreative, coders have compiled nothing but bugs. But I don’t get to blame anyone. I only get to resolve the issue.

True story: some years ago we printed thousands of expensive high-end folders for a client that required a special ink, emboss and a foil finish. When the folders arrived, the ink had run and the folders were stuck together because the glue had never dried properly. Our client was not pleased.

Much as I would have loved to throw that printer under a bus, I stopped what I was doing (which at the time happened to be vacationing on a beach in Maryland) and got on the phone with the printer until the issue was resolved.

It took another printer and two more weeks to get it resolved, but resolved it was. At no point did my client need to call the vendor or spend even one extra moment or one extra cent to get those folders delivered properly. Can you say the same about your developer?

What you want is a single person who you can call when something breaks. What you want to know is that when something goes wrong, you’ve got the support you need to make it right again.

Even if your developer isn’t responsible, will he take responsibility and get you what you need? Realistically, that may not always be free, but it should always be reliable.

Remember, you’re busy. It’s the job of your developer to remove the hassle and worry so that when you call with a problem, the only thing you’ll be sure to hear from the other end of the phone is, “I’ll take care of it.”

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