Finding a good web developer is like finding a good mechanic. They know what works, what doesn’t, and why. Here’s 10 questions to ask your web developer to make sure you’re getting Ken Miles and not Kevin from Corrie.
10 Questions to ask your web developer
A good web developer is like a good mechanic:
- They can spot problems quickly
- They know why it became a problem in the first place
- They can see stuff that might become a problem in future
- They have the all the right tools for the job
- They’ve spent years in the trade and can talk authoritatively about the subject
A good mechanic won’t have to look for business. A reputation will precede them and they’ll get most of their work from recommendation or referral.
Aren’t web developers all the same?
Nowadays its relatively simple to create a website. With online tools like Squarespace, Wix and Duda, you don’t really need any technical knowledge. Anyone with a bit of time can create a reasonable website, which works OK, and describe themselves as a web developer or web designer.
That’s fine and dandy, if you want something that’s just, well, okay.
If your web developer is using a tool that you could use yourself, you need to be confident that they’re adding value to the job, and not just taking a monkey see, monkey do approach to knocking up a website for your business.
To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here’s 10 questions you can ask your web developer to make sure they’re able to do a quality job for you.
Tip #1: Always a good idea to only engage with a developer after you’ve checked out their portfolio and if possible, got a recommendation from one of their previous clients.
Tip #2: My answers to this question are at the bottom of the page.
1. Who will be working on my website?
It’s important to know the skills and experience of the people who will working on your website. How long have they been building websites? Can they do development, SEO and sort out your hosting?
2. How many active clients do you have?
Be confident your developer will devote the time to your project to get the outcome you need.
If they’ve got too many customers, its likely they won’t be able to sustain the level of service and support you need, and you’ll be at the back of long queue of people waiting for stuff to be done.
3. Do you charge per page?
Charging by the page forces the developer to focus on their effort, not your outcome. That’s wrong.
You need is an effective presentation of your product or service, using the most effective means of communication, that makes sense to the most amount of people; irrespective of how many pages it takes. Charging by page implies a monkey see, monkey do approach to web development.
4. What software will you use?
Your web developer should be using well known, proven software like WordPress, Craft or Drupal that allows you to edit your own website content. If you don’t need to edit your content, then HTML will do.
5. Do you optimise websites for mobile and SEO?
Good SEO means you’ll get found more often, by more people. It needs to be factored in from the start, not added as an afterthought later.
Ask your developer:
- What page speed do you aim for?
- Will my web website work on mobiles, laptops and computers?
- What steps do you take to improve SEO?
- What tools do you use to monitor SEO?
With nearly 60% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, and considering Google’s mobile-google mobile first indexing, having a mobile responsive website is paramount.
6. Who will own my website?
You pay for it so it would be yours, right? Your developer should be able to tell you that you own the design, HTML, style sheets and source code and the content if you have supplied it yourself. You should also be able to take it with you if necessary.
7. Will I be able to change things on my website after its launch?
You should be able to edit content to add news, blogs, information and images. Different developers will use different content management systems but the most popular, by far, is WordPress.
It should be relatively straightforward for you to edit your site to add contact numbers etc, although you may need the support of your developer for more advanced features.
8. Will you support my website after launch?
This is important. If your web developer just leaves you to it after the launch and there’s a problem, how will you sort it out? It could end up costing you time and money.
9. How can I measure how well my website is performing?
You want to know the website is doing its stuff, right? Your developer should be able to use tools to track visitor analytics, website performance and uptime.
10. Who can I ask for a reference?
Ideally, your web developer should point you towards their portfolio and suggest you can contact any client for a reference. If they propose specific ones, ask if they’d be OK with you picking one.
Remember, you’re buying the person, not the product
When you’re buying a website you’re trusting someone with the public face of your business. You need to be sure they’ll do a quality job.
Now do some fact-checking of your own. Using this 10 questions to ask your web developer should allow you to determine who’s Ken, and who’s Kev.
- Check their portfolio. Do the websites have a modern look and feel? Are the websites responsive and mobile friendly? Are they fast loading?
- Was the developer listening to you, do they understand what you’re trying to achieve? Did they explain technical concepts in a way you understand, or were they playing buzzword bingo?
- Did you feel they were just trying to sell you something?
A lot of this comes down to gut feel. After speaking to your web developer, would you trust them to fix your car? If not, get in touch. Let’s see if I can help.
If you want a no obligation chat then give me a shout. I’m always happy to share my experience and provide an informed opinion if that’s what you need. I won’t try and sell you something you don’t need.
Here’s how I’d answer
- Me. I’m a technical professional with over 20 years experience. I know what works, what doesn’t, and why
- I keep a limited client base. That means I’m able to provide the quality of service I’d want to receive myself
- I charge per project, regardless of how many pages you need. Plus I use WordPress, so you can add pages yourself, when you need them
- I’ve used WordPress since the mid 2000’s. I have a coding background and can support you with a sitebuilder too, if that’s all you need
- Under 2 seconds. Yes. I follow Google guidelines to optimise code, content, images and infrastructure. Google search console, Google analytics and a range of specialist dashboards
- With me you own the lot. I’ll even help you move it if you really want to. (I’ve never had to do that yet). It’s usually a good idea for you to own your domain name, I can help with that if you don’t have one
- Yes. I use WordPress, software allows you to edit your own content from your browser or even an app on your phone. WordPress powers more than 30% of the web
- I offer monthly care plan to cover updates, upgrades and backups. It’ll save you time and money (and heartache) in the long run
- All of my websites come with Google sitekit installed to monitor search performance, visitor analytics and speed
- Any one of my clients, you pick.