Five Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Developer

Maybe you are just getting your feet wet as an entrepreneur, or perhaps, you have been successfully running your business for three, five or even ten years. It’s time for a new website, which is pretty much your brand out there, 24/7/365, in front of your customers. Or Is that really the case?

Your web presence defines who you are and what your aspirations are for your organization. A sloppy website design built using free DIY templates will scream to the world how much you care about your brand, compared to a website created by a professional who sat down with you to capture the essence of your business in its true sense. Your web developer has a higher calling as a change agent to take your business from 0 to 60 in the quickest amount of time. This can be accomplished by marketing your products and services relentlessly to your target audience.

Let’s get started with the most important ones and then get down to the nitty gritty.

1. What’s your brand background?

If you are working with a small agency, meet the agency owner for coffee. Learn about his background and how he came to be part of a web development business. The things the agency owner mentions about his personal goals and aspirations will tell you a lot about the kind of attention you are going to get when it comes to working with you. During this chat, be an active listener rather than taking a bunch of notes.

If you are working with a mature agency, ask your point of contact about the agency background and its goals. This is an exercise to learn more about the agency itself than learning about what the agency can do for you. Get to know the actual people whom you will be working with in the future and their backgrounds. The history of the agency is really not as important as knowing their future plans.

Overall, make your selection dependent on the quality of work they have produced in the past. Just being tech savvy to create a website is not enough if the web developer does not understand the importance of branding. Find someone who can do both for you.

2. What’s your approach on SEO?

Getting a website is great but have you really thought about why you need a website?

It’s important that a website is built from the ground up with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. Not performing SEO on a website is like opening up a brick and mortar store and not hanging a sign board to tell the world who you are.

A website is the single most useful marketing tool a business can have if used effectively. To drive traffic to your website, it needs to have a few key elements in place such as keywords, meta descriptions, excellent web page copy, page tiles, and a site map. These elements help the search engine bots to effectively index website contents. A skilled web developer will know the role of each of these key components and will place them to get the biggest bang for your buck.

If your web developer looks at SEO as a one-time effort, your online rankings will probably decline over time. A skilled web developer will work with you to understand your changing business needs and change SEO tactics to align with your short- and long-term business strategies.

3. Can your entire marketing department be outsourced to your web guy?

Although daunting as it sounds, it is the reality of present day needs. You want the person who is seemingly going to be your web guy to be well-versed with the complete marketing related activities and have the right resources at his disposal to execute when you give marching orders. As many brick and mortar national chains are closing down stores and opting for stronger online presence, your marketing efforts should also be focused in the online space where most customers hangout today. This is where you will find new customers whether you are a realtor, doctor, financial representative, insurance agent or even a home-based, one-person business.

Online marketing goes beyond just setting up your website. It also includes managing social media channels; running social media ad campaigns; executing Google Ads campaigns on Search and Display networks; proactive reputation management; frequent blog entries; creating backlinks; and setting up conversion tracking integrations to see how your marketing dollars convert to actual sales.

Find a website developer who can do all of the above, or most of it, because sooner or later you will want to execute the above marketing tasks, and you don’t want to be stuck in a spot where you need to work with a handful of different vendors in order to reach your sales growth.

4. Customer testimonials?

I would say this is a simple but effective question to find out more about your website developer’s credibility and past performance. I am sure you have heard horror stories about web developers holding the programming code ransom. No matter how strong the contract you are signing with the web developer, it is best to get some feedback from past customers to learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t let one negative comment create a bad impression about a web developer, but the more people you speak to, the more easily you will start recognizing patterns.

5. Support and maintenance

Have this conversation with your developer at the very beginning. You really don’t want someone to create a website for you and then disappear into the abyss. A mature web developer would have a support and maintenance plan in place to take care of your domain needs, email administration, web hosting, website error fixing, proactive approach to malware/virus attachments and future additions to the new website.

You really don’t want someone to create a website for you and then disappear into the abyss.

Ask about a contingency plan in the event their company folds, for whatever reason, or is bought-out by another company. Who will then own the rights to the code of your website? Who will provide ongoing support to you? There is no one correct answer to these questions, but you definitely want to have what serves your interests best in place.

The above five questions for your new web developer is only the beginning of your rebranding effort. There are many other important questions to ask potential web developers as you progress with the conversation. If you are thinking about fixing up your old website or entering into the world of entrepreneurship, I would love to hear the questions may have for your web developer. If you have already ventured down this path and have any serious or funny share worthy stories, I would love to hear them too. Feel free to share any good and bad experiences on our Facebook page so all subscribers can benefit from it!

AJ Aluthwala
Co-Founder, KallistoArt


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