The wrong way to hire a website developer is to use a directory. The right way is to use recommendations from people you know, or even that you don’t know – by writing them email and explaining that you love their site design – and asking who did it and whether the developer was easy to work with.
As you contact web designers you are considering hiring – ask these five question on the phone or in chat – by email they have too much time to think up the right answer.
1. How many business websites have you built, and can you show me 10 examples that are live today?
Hopefully your business site designer has built scores of websites before you find her, but if she has 10 good examples she is probably proficient enough.
Examine these sample sites in detail and make sure everything works because soon you will have a site just like one of the samples. You might want to covertly email or call the owners of the sites to ask their opinion of working with the developer too. I would.
2. Ask about typical payment terms and whether there is any flexibility.
If there is one thing that sours a deal quick, it is the payment terms. As a web developer myself, there isn’t a chance in the world that I’m going to build you a site and wait for a payment. Everything is paid up front, but in chunks. Usually I ask for 50% up front and 50% before I complete the second half. If the first half is acceptable, then the second half will be as well and I won’t wait to get payment until the end. It is a little like buying a bike, you pay first – always. If someone wants to pay in thirds I go along with that.
Clarify payment terms razor sharp so it is clear who is defaulting, if indeed that happens. And, it often does.
3. If your hours estimation is incorrect and you go over – how much notice will you give me, and what is the rate per hour at that point?
A developer knows approximately how long it will take to develop your site, but, working with you might be more difficult that she could have foreseen and the hours go up. Usually I overestimate hours so I have some leeway in case it goes over. That way both sides are happy. If I go over I usually only charge $15 per hour instead of the regular rate. That way it is in my best interest to stay within the hours so I don’t have work for $15 per hour.
The developer should give you a week notice if the hours will increase, a good developer will know a week in advance.
4. Who handles graphics, SEO, and video editing or anything else that may come up?
Are they outsourced or does the developer do these things? In my business if I think I can do it well, I’ll handle it all. If not, and especially if the client has the money I will gladly outsource all but the SEO to those better than me.
5. Will you build the site(s) without adding your links to the footer, or anywhere else in the content?
You must clarify this because many developers add them by default. You should make it very clear that you’re paying for the work and don’t want outbound links emanating from your site.
There are many topics you’ll want to discuss with potential web developers of your business site. SEO is one area you’ll want to find about. Will the developer optimize your site for SEO as your site is built. Building SEO into the design of the site as it is developed is a smart way to go so it doesn’t need to be done later.