How do I choose a good web designer/developer?

MagicChoosing a good web designer or developer is key to getting a great website that meets all of your expectations.

A poor website can be a costly mistake that can drive away potential customers, and lose you money, and nobody wants that!

Below are some points to consider when selecting a suitable web designer or developer.

1 - Can you see examples of their work?

Looking at a web developer's previous work is probably the easiest way to tell if they can do a good job for you. Ask yourself the following questions while you browse through their work;

  • Are the websites they've made similar to what I want?
  • Are their websites attractive and memorable?
  • Do their websites load quickly and work properly, and on a variety of devices?
  • Do they have a wide variety of website designs and features in their portfolio?

Look for a good range of work to gauge their experience and check that all the websites they're showcasing look at good as their own - it's easy to make one great-looking website but do they consistently produce eye-catching and unique designs for their clients?

2 - Are their websites logical, easy-to-navigate and user-friendly?

While you're looking through their work, pay particular attention to the organisation of content within each website.

  • Can you quickly find important information?
  • MenuDoes the menu use words that are easy to understand?
  • Is related content grouped together in a logical way?
  • Does content 'flow' and encourage you to move forward?
  • Have they provided a site map or search bar to make things easier?

These are all points that indicate the web developer's experience and attention to usability and accessibility. No matter how good looking their websites are, they are useless if a visitor cannot use them effectively, or easily find their way from A to B.

3 - Can they provide website quotes and price breakdowns?

Bespoke websites are difficult to quote for without first chatting with a potential client to find out exactly what is needed. However, a web developer should be able to explain where the costs of a web project lie, so you can at least assess whether your website requirements fit your budget.

4 - Can they make your website to your deadline?

Be specific about your time frame and requirements. Sometimes it isn't possible to squeeze everything into the time frame you have in mind, so listen to your web developer when they explain how long something takes as you might need to be flexible with your deadline.

Also bear in mind that web developers have other clients, and other projects, so if you have your heart set on working with a particular person, you might need to wait a while for them to fit you into their schedule.

5 - Can they tell you about their website design process?

DesignIdeally, you should know a little about the design process that your web developer likes to take. It's not necessary to know all the ins and outs - just the basic steps of what's involved, so you know where you stand, and if, or when, anything is expected of you in return.

A quick process breakdown gives you an idea about;

  • When you should expect to pay (in instalments or on job completion)
  • How often you'll be consulted (keeping you in the loop with how things are going)
  • How much you need to be involved (your ongoing input is important)
  • An agreed time scale for key steps (design, build, content population, launch, sign-off)

6 - What Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can they provide?

The web is a very competitive place, so your web developer needs to demonstrate techniques that will ensure the website built for you can be found by visitors.

There are many factors that influence a website's footing in search engines, some of which are outside your developer's control, but they should at least know how to build basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) into your website.

All websites that I make at Focus on Function are built properly from the ground-up, with clean, valid code, that is optimised for speed as well as search engine findability.

Body copy can (and should) be optimised too and I can do this for you if needed.

7 - Do they have the web skills and experience for your project?

Deciding whether a web developer has the right skills and experience to complete your website will depend on the type of features you require it to have.

If you need an event registration system, ask them to show you websites where they have included this feature. If you need a member login system, ask them to provide evidence of having done this. It can also help to contact the website owners to ask if their Skillsexpectations for a requested feature were fully met by the developer, which will allow you to get more of a feel for the flexibility of their knowledge and their approach to work.

If they can't provide an exact example of what you require though, you shouldn't write them off just yet, as they may be able to demonstrate a few close-fit examples that can be adapted to your needs.

8 - Do they make websites for a living?

There are people who make websites for a hobby, and there are people who make and work on websites for a living, whether through full time employment (like me), or as freelancers.

While a spare-time hobbyist might be able to make you a perfectly acceptable website, be sure to do your homework thoroughly as they might not be up to the job - if not now, then in the future when you want to expand your website with more advanced features.

A web developer who makes their living out of building websites is typically more experienced and has much more of a vested interest in doing a top-rate job, as their reputation depends on it.

9 - Do you like their personality?

At the end of the day, you could be working with your web developer for months, or even years, not just for the initial duration of the project, so you need to actually get along with them.

If your instincts tell you that you're not a good match, it's better to step away and find somebody else who you do get on with. This works both ways too - web developers will decline clients if they come across as bolshy, overly-demanding and uncooperative.

Try to establish a friendly rapport from the start. A good working relationship can actually affect the price you pay and the speed at which your work is completed!

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Contact me for prices, discuss a project, or ask a question

Have you chosen your web developer yet? I'm happy to listen to your needs and discuss your requirements, so please contact me for a chat.