December 11, 2015 by

A New Website is a Big Decision. Read These Tips to Make the RIGHT Decision!

So, you have a website and it’s time for an update. Where do you start? … Here!

Whether you want to update the design, functionality, increase traffic, or do a complete overhaul, the decision should be strategic and thoughtful.

In our many years of web development, we’ve heard far too many horror stories from clients who had a bad experience with a web designer or developer. We’ve heard of clients who paid way too much and were left high and dry in a scam-like situation; and we’ve heard of clients who chose the low bid only to realize half-way through the project that their developer couldn’t fulfill the technical expectations and promises.

To avoid a nightmare situation and ensure your new website development is a smooth process, we invite you to follow our 10-item checklist.

[  ] 1. Learn About the Company

It’s important to know who you’re working with before agreeing to a contract. Get background information on the company by visiting the “about us” page on their website and/or searching for them on social media platforms. Ensure they’re real people and show transparency in their business.

[  ] 2. Read Reviews

While it’s important to take reviews with a grain of salt as people typically only leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience, it’s helpful to get an idea of how the company or developer is perceived by others. Search for the business on Google and social media platforms and see what others have to say. An overwhelming trend of negative reviews may raise an otherwise undetected red flag.

[  ] 3. View Project Examples

Visit the company’s website and look for a “latest work” or “case study” page. Check out their past clients and learn more about the types of projects they’ve completed. If you don’t see any projects similar to the type of work you’re seeking, ask them to provide an example.

[  ] 4. Meet Face-to-Face

When possible, choose a designer or developer who you can meet in person. While we live in a digital world, it’s helpful to have face-to-face interaction to discuss your needs and expectations. If it’s not feasible to meet in real life, hold a video conference. Web Development projects are intricate and contain room for interpretation; effective communication is necessary for a successful outcome.

[  ] 5. Ask Questions

It’s normal to have questions – ask them! Web designers and developers work with people on a regular basis who have zero technical experience. Don’t be ashamed to ask if you don’t understand terminology or if you’re unclear on a certain aspect. They’ve heard it all and probably don’t realize when they’re using jargon that’s like a foreign language to the everyday person.  Your questions will ensure everybody is on the same page; and it will achieve the best outcome for both parties.

[  ] 6. Know What Is Included

On the topic of the best outcome for both parties, it’s important the client and the web developer know what is included in the project. If a certain website feature wasn’t discussed or included in the initial estimate, it will be out of scope and change the timeline (and budget). To avoid any uncertainty, make a clear list of everything you’d like included in the development process. While it’s not uncommon for features to be added as an afterthought, it’s most efficient to outline as much as possible in the early stages.

[  ] 7. Discuss Budgets

A budget range is important for both the client and the web developer. A good web developer will be realistic with project estimates and respect the client’s budget. Never work with a developer who isn’t clear about affiliated costs. Instead, look for a developer who is transparent and consistent during the estimate process.

[  ] 8. Set Mutual Expectations

What do you expect from your web designer or developer? What do they expect from you, the client? Be sure to discuss how project updates will be communicated, what timelines will be followed, how project testing will be completed, and more. Set mutual expectations in the beginning to avoid any uncertainty in later stages.

[  ] 9. Put it in Writing

After discussing deliverables and budgets, it’s important to put everything in writing. Regardless of your relationship with the web designer or developer, a formal contract will protect both parties should an issue or misunderstanding arise. In the same sense, be sure to read the contract. A good web developer will be straightforward and won’t try to trick you into signing anything in which you don’t agree. Ask for clarification on any tricky language and/or have a legal professional review the contract.

[  ] 10. Stay Involved

The web development process includes many stages. There will be benchmarks and milestones where it will be important to have feedback from the client. Don’t be a stranger to your web developer. Work with them throughout the process to ensure everything meets your expectations. Neither party wants to have surprises in the end. Keep communication lines open and practice effective teamwork ... it’ll pay off in the end.  

There you have it!

Following these 10 items will ensure you’re on the right track to choose a web developer who can address your needs in the most productive, professional, and high-quality manner.

Thanks for reading!