Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on May 27th, 2014

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5 things to consider when looking to hire a web developer.

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In continuation of what has become our "5 Things to Consider" theme here on the blog the last few weeks, this week we will discuss things to consider when hiring a web developer. As we have discussed in the last few blogs, only four out of ten small businesses have dedicated websites. We used National Small Business week to kick off our push to help small businesses find the right tools to embrace technology.

Web developers. They are not all created equally. Sometimes they are called architects, developers, programmers, coders or even to a developer the dreaded "web designer". You see, developers or programmers are a different breed. They have nothing against "web designers" it is just simply not who they are. Programmers and/or developers are technology nerds, they don't like to mess with "design" other than to take the creative and make it function. So, if you ever see a developer cringe when you refer to them as a "web designer" you now know why.

Developers bring far more to the table than just programming a "website". In fact, in 2014 gone are the days of "static or brochure type web sites". Websites today need to be a living breathing thing. They need constant fresh content to keep up with Google and their competitors. Gone are the days of having a site built and forgetting about it for five or ten years. Today's consumers use websites and mobile sites daily for their shopping, research, news, entertainment needs. You can bet that if a consumer or potential client stumbles on an outdated website with dead links or outdated content, they will move to the next service provider in the industry. Web sites today integrate into other existing systems. Web developers today create web apps and interfaces to create system integration, portals, databases, etc.

I know I just rattled off many different things web developers are capable of. And that is just scratching the surface. So, in an effort to assist you in finding the right developer for your needs, below are 5 things to consider when looking to hire a web developer.

1. There own site. Take a look around the developer's site. Look for things like functioning links, contact us forms, services pages, portfolios, and testimonials. Many things you would look for in any industry, but the ease of use, functionality, and upkeep are key.

2. Services and/or languages. Now, when looking for a developer you will encounter different kinds or levels of developers so to speak. Today there are many a designer or design firms who now list "developer" as a skill set. They will generally offer things such as Wordpress or other "boxed solutions". Those items are fine, depending on the complexity of your needs. But, when looking for a highly skilled developer things that are key are detailed lists of languages supported, databases, mobile development, Apple or Andriod developer, e-commerce, and more. Make sure there is evidence to support the skill of "Developer".

3. Portfolio/Case studies. Portfolios and case studies are key when researching developers. It is important to grasp the full capabilities of the developers as well as visualize their ability to communicate with clients. Case studies are key when describing projects to non-technical individuals. Not all individuals tasked with finding a developer for a project will understand the technical speak for the project and have the ability to read about similar projects will help them understand the scope better.

4. Location. It is important for developers to have clear contact information. Today many firms want to know where the developer is located. A clear sign you might be on the site of a freelancer or outsourcing firm in another country is the lack of a physical address or local phone number. You may be comfortable with either of those options, but it is nice to know ahead of time who you might be working with. You may prefer a firm with a local office or you may be ok with a developer in another country, but the information should be clearly stated on the website to avoid confusion.

5. Consultations, ownership, and contracts. Most developers offer free consultations to discuss your project parameters, it is important to have a clear scope ready prior to the consult. Also, a key question is who owns the website, code, programs or designs upon completion of the site. The answer should always be you the client has full ownership once the project is completed and paid in full. Contracts are also key to protect yourself as well as the developer. It is important to make sure the full scope is outlined in the contract and that both parties understand and agree to all work performed.

So, there you have 5 things to consider when hiring a web developer or programmer. Technology can be daunting to many, but if you do your research and find a developer who can hear your needs and discuss the with you in a way you as the consumer will understand it will be much easier. It is important to know that developers can do much more than just a standard website, so if you already have a website, you may be looking for more advanced functionality. Take the time to understand the full capabilities of the developer you are considering, look at other projects they have completed. Understand that no two projects may be exact. Developers are different than designers or marketing firms in that when we take on a project the specific industry is not necessarily key to being qualified. To developers, data is data and code is code whether your industry is retail or you own a restaurant or run a hospital. When hiring a developer the most important thing is a skill set, expertise level, and communication. So, take your time, do your research and talk to more than one developer prior to making your decision.