How to choose a web developer

How to choose a web developer

Top Questions to Ask When Choosing a Web Developer

In this article, we’ll look at a number of questions to ask of potential web developers that are geared towards you being able to make an informed decision. And, of course, we welcome you to ask the same questions of us in your quest to find the best website developer or programmer.

Alright then, here we go:

  1. How long have you been involved in website development? Experience matters. I have seen many web developers come and go over the past 2 decades. Any developer that has longevity in this highly competitive field has it for only one reason: they know what they’re doing. I suggest that you’d want your developer to have at least 5 years of agency experience.
  2. How many websites have you developed? The ability to show a solid portfolio is critical for your potential developer to show exactly what they are capable of. If possible, ask to see websites that are similar in scope or functionality to what you are envisioning.
  3. Are you able to customize CMS templates? Unless you’re looking for a strictly “out-of-the-box” solution, you’ll want to be sure that your web programmer is able to customize theme templates for your chosen CMS solution. A CMS, or content management system, allows you to keep your site up-to-date with fresh content once the initial development has been completed. There are a number of solutions, with WordPress, Drupal and Joomla being the top contenders. Rarely is a developer a true expert in numerous CMS environments, so be sure to ask if they support your CMS of choice.
  4. Do you offer reliable hosting services? Not all host platforms are created equal. I’ve learned from first hand experience that, although very low cost, many shared servers are not able to handle high-volume websites. I’ve seen businesses with targeted campaigns driving people to their website only to have the server fail…and others that have had to move to new servers entirely. Your website is your online business and if your website cannot be reached because of server failure, you are losing potential business.
  5. In what programming languages are you proficient? HTML, CSS, mySQL, PHP, jQuery and JavaScript are a few of the common coding languages a web developer should be able to navigate comfortably. Asking this question will tune you into a potential developer’s experience, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. If the candidate has little or no knowledge of any of the above as this will translate into problems if the technology is not correctly deployed.
  6. Do you offer any SEO services? While not all website would need to rely entirely on organic search engine results, it’s still a good idea to have basic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies applied to your website. Some of the basics include META tag optimization, keyword density analysis, copy editing for SEO, and page content optimization.
  7. What is your background in marketing? Although not specifically a requirement, this is very important if you are not working with a marketing agency. A developer with internet marketing experience can help guide your development process past many common mistakes and pitfalls.
  8. Do you have a website programming process? The web development process is the set of standards and milestones used to streamline the overall process and are usually defined as a series of steps. At the very least, the 3 main steps in any web development process would include analysis, design and build phases. Some agencies will sub-divide these phases into smaller sub-sets. More information can be found in my article about the website programming process.
  9. What are your rates, or how much will it cost? This is a very broad topic yet one that must be broached. In general terms, a website can cost anywhere from $1,000 for a super-simple one-page site, to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for eCommerce or enterprise sites. More information can be found in my article on how much a website costs article.
  10. What measures do you employ regarding security: With the sheer number of hackers doing bad things these days, security measures are a prime concern. Not only will you want to know what security measures are in place, but also ask about a disaster recovery plan – what will happen if something goes wrong. A good developer will be able to answer these questions easily.

Additional Questions For Your Website Developer

This next set of questions is geared more towards the developer or programming side of things and will help y0u get a better feel for the technical capabilities of your potential web developer:

  1. What are the responsibilities of a web developer? This question will help you determine how your developer plans to support the rest of the team, and what tasks they need to take ownership of. A web developer should fully understand their role and how it contributes to website design and development. A competent web developer designs, develops, enhances, tests and deploys web applications with an end goal of creating engaging and user-friendly site layout and functionality. A good developer gathers and defines requirements, maintains websites, troubleshoots and fixes bugs, follows best practices and effectively collaborates with other teams.
  2. What sparked your interest in web development? Did they start at an early age? Any formal training or are they self-taught? Learning why a candidate chose web development can help determine their level of passion and commitment to the profession. Things to consider are enthusiasm, motivation and experience.
  3. What is W3C and why is it important? A good web developer will take responsibility for the code they produce and, as much as possible, ensure that it follows W3C standards. W3C stands for World Wide Web Consortium and it’s an international community with a focus on standardizing the web. Employing these standards ensures that web content is accessible in all browsers and optimizes the user experience.
  4. Explain how you optimize a website and reduce load time. All web users want fast load times when they visit any website. Although there are numerous techniques a web developer can use in reducing load time, optimizing images, enabling browser caching and minimizing HTTP requests are at the top of the list. Using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can help determine specific actions to take to decrease page load time.
  5. What steps do you take to meet timelines and client requirements? A website developer may face any number of challenges, including short turnaround times, unexpected obstacles in coding, and overly-ambitious clients. A good web developer will be able to perform well under pressure, have excellent communication skills, and be committed to excellence.