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Nicola Peaty

What to look for when assigning a web developer for your new website.

By Nicola Peaty

In the words of our very own web developer, we believe there are four crucial points to web developerconsider when looking for someone to work with on developing your new website.

1. Communication.                                                       

You must feel you can discuss technical and other issues easily and openly, between account handler, design team and development team. This is where most things go wrong. If in doubt always ask for clarification and ensure everything is documented including critical decisions, timelines and actions.

2. Flexibility.

A developer must understand that the scope of projects can change, and be able to adapt. Only as briefing discussions take place will all parties be aware of what is really needed. There is no point using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (or vice versa). The appropriate scale and size of website must be agreed once all requirements and specifications have been clarified.

3. Trust.

You must have a sense of trust that the developer is choosing the right solution for you or your client. That means understanding your company, brand, aims and targets. What are you and your website striving to achieve? What is the tone and positioning? Do you want to compete on a technical basis or start with a presence in the market? A developer must have a full appreciation of your goals to develop exactly what you need.

4. Technical capability.

This is an obvious prerequisite. There are many things here that might be essential, depending on the scale of the project. It would be advisable to know the experience and breadth of expertise of your developer to know if they are able to meet your requirements. If there is something specific you know you require then your developer should show you previous examples of how to develop this specification. If you have a requirement which may be unique to your business, then it’s up to your developer to brainstorm different options to create and build and advise on how other sites have done something similar which has worked well.

computerweeklyWe thought you may also like to view the advice from ComputerWeekly.com Guides on some things to consider when choosing a web developer:

Assessing a portfolio

The greatest resource available for researching a web developer’s aptitude and suitability for the kind of work you have in mind is the portfolio of jobs they have done in the past. Qualities to look for include variety, originality and whether you consider the style of the designs appropriate for the sites in question. Be sure to give consideration to the functional and practical aspects of the sites under review as much as their visual impact. Does the site load quickly? Does it require any plug-ins or software downloads to operate effectively? It is well worth your time entering the site using different web browsers and connection speeds to test compatibility and adaptability, because these issues can make or break a web site and you’ll want to see how well the developer accommodates them.

Technical ability                                                                                                                   

Be sure to read any descriptions of the projects to get an idea of what was involved. Though you may not fully understand some technical aspects of what?s involved, this guide should give you a firm enough grounding to appreciate when a difficult problem has been solved in a particularly elegant or innovative way. It may also be helpful to see if any of their past work is similar to your project.

SEO

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is of vital importance if your website is to receive large numbers of visitors. Look to see if SEO was a part of any projects in the portfolio. You can easily assess how effective a developer’s  SEO abilities are by performing a few searches yourself and noting how easy it is to find the sites in the portfolio.

Getting references

Any web developer should be happy to provide you with a list of satisfied clients as references. This is possibly the most important step in choosing the right company to work with as talking to past clients will give you an idea what the company is like to work with in practice. There are a number of questions worth asking referees. How well did the developer communicate with the clients? Did they deliver what was required within budget and to schedule? Has the project stood the test of time or presented any technical problems and is it dynamic and adaptable enough that alterations to the content can be made without difficulty?

Size of the organisation

You will likely find that there are all sizes of organisations available for your project, from freelance individuals to multinational corporations. Which is best depends on you and your project and there are advantages and disadvantages to either. While a freelancer will probably give you a very high level of personal service, they may not personally be able to take on all of your tasks, and employ a third party, losing the personal touch. Large companies offer stability, capacity and guarantees, but you may not receive such personal service, especially if you are a relatively small client. Additionally, a larger organisation is likely to be more stable. Ultimately, you should be confident that the individual or company you choose can provide you with high quality work and the level service you want.

A good relationship

It may seem obvious, but having a good working relationship with your developer is vital. You will inevitably need to communicate a lot and effectively in order to achieve the result you want, so you must feel comfortable with them. It?s no good having the world’s most sought-after developer working for you unless you feel able to tell them that they’ve done something wrong or that you don?t like something they’ve created. A developer should be able to take constructive criticism and suggestions and be generally personable. Compatibility between client and designer is key to generating the best possible end result.

Stability

In this current climate, it is important to make sure that a company is solvent and has the ability to survive. You don’t want a company going bust midway through your website development. Our recommendation is to view the latest accounts to ensure they have made no significant losses recently. It is also worth considering using Equifax or Experian for company credit worthiness checks.