Today, most businesses want a website. Some already have one. Others want one. They don't want to hire IT staff and probably can't afford any. And in most cases, an in-house IT staff, especially for your typical small business, just isn't necessary. But, that doesn't mean that you have to go without or will be forced to use some cookie cutter website or a personal FrontPage experiment gone awry. You can hire a web developer/designer to create a professional website for you, set it up, and then hand it over to you for you to do what you want with it. But, how should you go about finding someone to do this? What should you look for? There are literally thousands of companies/individuals out there offering to do your website. How do you pick from this large group?
* What kinds of information do you want to have on your site? Approximately how large do you envision the site (# of pages)?
* Will your site require regular updates? Do you want to do these updates yourself?
* Will you be engaging in e-commerce on this website?
* Will you need a database?
* How fast do you need the job done?
* What is your budget?
Start Your Search
Often, the developers you are pondering are not located in your town. In today's day and age, this is not usually a problem. Yes, there are instances where a face-to-face meeting is really beneficial, and if you are the kind of really considers this meeting important, you should limit your search to developers within driving distance of your location. Otherwise, the internet and phone system provide all the communication you will need, regardless of distance.
The first thing to do when considering a developer is to check out their website.
* IS the site well-designed and attractive?
* Is it easy to navigate?
* Are there any broken links?
* Is the information complete (introduction to staff, company location, contact methods, etc.)?
* Does the site load quickly?
* IS there a portfolio? (Very important. A developer without a portfolio to display is a total question mark. You simply don't know if the people are good or are snacking on Doritos trying to figure things out as they go).
You need to decide if you want to work with a large design firm or a small freelance company (or even single developer). There is more security for the client when working with a larger firm. The skills they offer vary widely because their staff is so large, and they often have a very large portfolio. The caveat, though, is that large companies often charge more money. The overhead costs for such companies are larger, so they will charge more. Additionally, larger companies often come with more beauracracy. With so many developers, often communication is just not what it should be, leading to inconsistencies in the project due to miscommunication. Also, sometimes you will find that these companies pay a little too much attention to process rather than simply getting the job done.
Check out the rates of the developer. Often, you will not find the rates directly posted on their website. This is usually because they like to do things by estimate, so simply contact them, give them a few specs, and go back and forth until you get a ballpark figure. When getting an estimate, make sure it is detailed and exact. Ask any questions that you have. If you think the price is too high, ask them about it. Don't be afraid to counter-offer. They can always refuse.
Any developer you consider should have a method of being reached by phone. Call them and gauge their personality. Make sure they are good people who you can talk with and bounce ideas off of. See if they treat you right or act like they barely have time for you. Good communication is very important to a successful project, and if you can't properly communicate to your developer, you should not hire him/her.
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