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Four things to ask… Your website developer

by Leanne Yong on January 14, 2015

This is the second post in our “Things to ask” tech series. Click on the link to read the previous article about “Three things to ask… Your software developer“.

Whether you’re a freelancer, a consultant, a business owner, or even someone in the arts, a website is one of the most important parts of selling yourself. In our always-connected world, a lot of the time your website is the first impression you’ll make on your potential clients or audience, and we all know that first impressions matter.

Your website will be your calling card, the front page to you and what you stand for. But for many of us who don’t have the skills to develop a website ourselves, we need to hire someone else to do it. There are many people who claim to be competent web developers, but far less who can actually back up that claim. How do we know that we’re not going to be taken for a ride?

Here Kasia Gospos, the founder of Leaders in Heels, shares four things you should ask your website developer.

Can I see your previous work/contact your previous clients?

…ask them specifically what part of the website they built

When looking at a developer’s portfolio, be sure to ask them specifically what part of the website they built. Websites are often built by multiple developers, sometimes over a long period of time. Don’t simply assume that the websites in a developer’s portfolio were completely built by them–they may have come in much later and only worked on a small area.

This links in to contacting the developer’s previous clients. A developer can easily make their look more glamourous than it actually was, so chat to others who have worked with them and ask how effective and reliable the developer was. Someone who’s not willing to give any references should be a bright red warning flag!

How many changes can I make?

Don’t forget to ask about ongoing costs

No matter how glitter-eyed you are over a particular theme or design, there will be changes. Most of the time, there will be a lot of changes. Confirm upfront how many rounds of changes are included in the price, and whether the changes allowed are large ones or small ones. Changing the size/colour/style of text or adding a button is a small change. Adding more features to a page such as transition animations or a shopping cart functionality is a big change.

Don’t forget to ask about ongoing costs. If you discover a change you missed during the initial build, how much will it cost to fix the problem?

How can I make the build more cost-effective?

It’s easy to get carried away with great ideas for features and page designs, but custom builds will take more time and, of course, cost more money. There are many standard website themes and plug-ins that will give you the functionality you need, if you’re willing to compromise. Ask your developer whether there are existing templates or code that can be used instead of building from scratch, and how much that will save on the final bill.

What are your payment terms?

The best approach is to agree on payments scheduled by agreed milestones

It’s important to be clear on this from the very beginning. Does the developer require payment upfront? Half now, half when complete? The best approach is to agree on payments scheduled by agreed milestones such as implementing a new style, additional pages, a shopping cart, or SEO tools.

Also ensure that the contract enables you to pull out easily in case you realise the developer has a different vision to yours that they’re not willing to budge on, or if their work isn’t up to the quality you expected. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a build, realising it won’t work, but having no way out until the end when the entire site has been built and invoices paid.

Do you have any other questions you think are important to ask your software developer? Share them in the comments below!

Leanne Yong
Leanne Yong is the Leaders in Heels Managing Editor, and a Games Master for an escape room (Next Level Escape). She loves stories and puzzles, and has written four novels.
 
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