If, through hard work, enthusiasm, creative genius or simply luck, your experience of blogging has so far been a successful one you might well be looking to expand your website to incorporate new tools, widgets or content types.
As a blogger though you’re probably much more comfortable with the front end of websites than what goes on underneath their style sheets.
Either that, or with a busy blog or a website to run you simply don’t have time for tinkering. In either case hiring an outside expert in the form of a web developer is an absolute must.
The problem, as in all cases where expert advice needs to be paid for, is how do you know the web developer is up to the job before you hire them? How can you be sure that they know what they’re doing and can deliver a solution to your needs that not only works but is in place on time?
In todays post we are going to show how to make your web developer hiring process damn easy. The following tips should help make that process easier, so keep reading:
1. Write a Brief
The most important consideration in hiring a web developer is finding someone who understands what you need and can clearly communicate how they’re going to deliver it.
Unfortunately that requires some effort on your part and drawing up a clear brief is the bare minimum you can do. It doesn’t have to be a 3,000 word thesis – in fact, the more concise the better – but it does need to get across your vision of what you want from the project.
Try to give examples from other websites where appropriate and don’t be afraid to make sketches and diagrams – even if you are artistically challenged.
The more information you can prep the developer with the more complete their response is likely to be and the better you’ll be able to judge it for suitability.
2. Don’t Just Use Google
Searching for “web developers” on Google will turn up thousands of potential options. But how on earth do you select a shortlist from such a huge list of results?
Those near the top of the results obviously know their SEO and/or PPC but the amount of time and money they can afford to spend on those activities probably also means they’re large companies – which might not be suitable for your purposes.
Rather than hit the search engines first, try asking your friends, family and acquaintances for recommendations. You probably hang out (either in real life or online) with people who share similar careers/hobbies so tap them up for recommendations of suitable developers.
After that, if you really do need to use a search engine then localise your search by adding your town, city or region to the search terms.
Start specific and work your way out. A local developer will not only be easier to meet face-to-face but you’ll also have some common ground for ice-breaking small talk.
For each developer, Google their name to check for reviews – both positive and negative – and for what people have been saying about them on forums.
3. Look for Experience and Communication Skills
When it comes to selecting a website developer from your shortlist experience is vital. They should have portfolios of work displayed on their own website where you can assess the quality of what they’ve done in the past.
They should have experience of working with the platform on which your website runs and, if you’re migrating, the platform you’re moving to.
Hiring a developer who’s new to the kind of task you’re employing them for is a recipe for disappointment. Don’t just assume that because they’re good at one development skill they’ll quickly be able to learn another.
The other huge factor is communication skills. You should get the impression from your prospective developer that they’re listening keenly to what you want and are open to your suggestions and feedback.
Hiring a developer that’s closed off to your input will be incredibly frustrating.
4. Make Sure They’re Up Front and Clear About Charges
When the developer quotes you for the work make sure the quote is explicit as possible and that there are no hidden charges. If you’re unsure, ask.
If you don’t get a satisfactory response, ask again. The developer, if they’re the real deal, shouldn’t have a problem with this. In fact, they’ll welcome the fact that you’re keen to understand the process.
Hidden costs and charges could arise from the task overrunning or from unanticipated complications so make sure the agreement between you makes provision for these kind of events and is explicit about the impact on price.
5. Look Out for Danger Signs
There are some dead giveaways that the web developer you’re in communication with is more trouble that they’re worth. These include (but aren’t limited to):
- The developer will only communicate by email – Not good enough. If they can’t talk over the phone or face-to-face how are you ever supposed to know that they really understand what you want from them?
- The developer is an agent for offshore developers in Asia – this might keep the costs way down and therefore might be the option you’re after. It’s a gamble though – you’re adding an extra filter between yourself and the person actually doing the coding.
- They’re really cheap – Web development is a highly skilled business where those practicing it have spent years honing their skills. They don’t charge peanuts. If they’re quoting way below the average of your other quotes then it probably is too good to be true.
- They won’t provide references – Why wouldn’t someone who’d had good experiences with previous clients be happy for you to talk to them? Out of courtesy you shouldn’t really call up/email the referees until you’re on the verge of employing the developer (after all, they don’t want their referees getting bugged all the time) – but the developer should at least let you know who they are.
Now that you’re armed with those 5 tips, hiring a website developer for your new web project should be as easy as falling off a blog. Good luck!