Building a website from scratch can be a challenge for most people. There is often a lot of confusing jargon involved as well as hidden expenses that most will be unaware of. This is why a lot of business owners seek out the help of a web developer to do all the technical work for them.
Each new project will have its own unique needs, so when approaching a web designer there are a set of questions you should ask. Asking questions will help guide the process of building your site and ensure that you and your developer are working on the same page.
Let’s take a look at six important questions you should ask your web developer and why you must ask these questions.
1. What kind of design and development process will we follow?
The way in which your web developer approaches the process of creating your website can speak volumes about their expertise. You need to understand how you will communicate while working on your project. Will this be via phone calls, Slack, email, direct message, etc.?
Will you be communicating every day, once or twice per week, or just as questions arise? Establishing a regular contact and update routine will let you feel more confident in your web developer and reassured about the progress of your project.
Discuss how you will track tasks, milestones, and deadlines. Your project management and communications should be centralized and trackable. A lot of time can be wasted chasing files and updates on progress. Decide what software you are going to use such as Trello, Asana, Google Docs, etc. Try to define a central hub to manage everything related to the project.
Establish how you are going to revise the work done to ensure you will be getting the website you envisioned. Agree with your developer what constitutes a minor revision, such as a font size change, and what constitutes a major revision, and how many full revisions will be included in the price.
2. What technologies are you going to use when building the website?
It’s important to ensure that your web developer is following current best practices in order to end up with a quality and future-proof website. Cutting edge web design software will include various features such as drag and drop and may or may not need coding experience.
Your web developer must have a good knowledge of new technologies emerging in the market that can help them to build better websites. Their tool kit may include well-established, tried, and tested software mixed with unique new custom software developments.
As a business owner, if you want to read up on the topic and gain an understanding of what these newer technologies could be, you could follow some of the popular web development communities such as the Webdev Reddit community and Web Designer News. You may not understand everything that’s being discussed, but you should start to recognize current trends and hot topics in the world of web development.
The main features of website design software will include creating HTML or CSS files from scratch, development of site menus or nested menus, and an FTP uploader that will allow your site to be published when you are ready.
3. Will my website be bespoke and entirely unique to me?
A surprising number of web developers will use an off-the-shelf website theme, without mentioning this to their client. Always ask your developer whether they plan to use a pre-made site template or if they will use their graphic design skills to create you a completely bespoke site tailored to your needs.
If you’re new to working with web developers or you’ve never commissioned a website before, you might not realize that there are a number of different aspects to the work, including front-end development, back-end development, user interface design, and more. Most web developers will have one or more of these skill sets, and you might need to consider splitting your budget between two or more people if your project requires a wide range of skills.
It is important to look at their past work to assess their design abilities and functionality capabilities. You will easily be able to spot repeated themes being used over again. Ask which of their sites were designed in-house and which were created using a template. Also, ask where their artwork came from.
If you need a more complex solution, ask them if they can handle it. Ask to see examples where they accommodated similar requests.
4. How will SEO and digital strategy be implemented on the new website?
Some web developers don’t have the wider expertise to ensure your website results in attracting new customers. These days every new website launch must start with SEO.
Modern websites must get their SEO right from the moment the site is being planned out. Years ago new websites were built first and then optimized for SEO, but today’s search engines analyze and rank new website performance with such a keen eye that every design choice needs to be assessed for its impact on SERPs.
It is often wise to ask your web developer about their approach to SEO and digital strategy, and some starter questions should be:
- What tools and techniques do you use to ensure good SEO performance?
- What pre-launch optimizations will you do on the site?
- Have you analyzed how my competitors are performing in SERPs and made use of that insight?
- Can you recommend how I should improve my website content to achieve my goals?
5. Will there be any unexpected costs?
There are different ways that web developers can work out the costing for your website, and some of them are less transparent than others.
You need to factor in so many costs into your new website, including the costs of hosting, domain name, development, and ongoing maintenance costs for your site. According to Startups.co.uk, you can expect to pay in the region of £7-£12 for new domain registration alone.
A lot of web developers will offer a fully comprehensive package where they take care of all these costs and services in-house, but others may only charge for the web design and development and nothing else.
The costs of web development should be flexible and a good developer will be able to negotiate a cost-effective price for your project. But you need to get a written outline of what’s included in your price and what extra services are on offer should you need them.
After determining what you want and what you actually need to be included in your service, you can then look at agreeing on a contract with your web developer that contains no hidden extra charges for products or services that you don’t need.
6. What kind of pre-launch testing will you do?
It’s important that websites are tested to ensure they look and function correctly on a wide range of devices and browsers.
This is a crucial stage of your website build. You need to make sure your new website meets with all of your expectations for the build. It is worth reiterating all of your expectations with your web developer again during the pre-launch testing stage.
It can help to have your expectation about how you want your website to look and function across all platforms to be written into your agreement with your web developer and only sign off the project once they have been fully understood and met.
Take your time to find the right web developer
There is a huge number of companies and individuals offering web development services. As with many other professions, the skill sets and specializations of these web developers will vary a great deal, as will their experience and knowledge.
In summary, you should make sure you question your web developer on these areas to ensure you’ll finish up with a website that’s fit for purpose:
- What kind of design and development process will we follow?
- What technologies are you going to use when building the website?
- Will my website be bespoke and entirely unique to me?
- How will SEO and digital strategy be implemented with the new website?
- Will there be any unexpected costs?
- What kind of pre-launch testing will you do?
Carefully work through these questions when vetting developers. As always, review your business plan, financials, and goals to set a baseline for your site development project. That way you have planning and budgeting elements to fall back on if you find yourself struggling to come to a decision.