How to find the right Web designer or developer

 By:   ~  How to  ~  December 16th, 2009

good web designer and developerWhenever we have an idea or a requirement for a website, we start searching for a web designer, which is one of the most important and difficult aspects.

I was reading a great post by Neil Patel about finding good web designer and developer. Neil has written a great post and I would like to add some tips which I have learnt from many years experience in recruiting web developers. There are a number of things you should prepare for before you start searching for your web developer.

The following list will help you to explain your requirements to your prospective developer as well as ensuring you select the right person for the job.

Research and identify your requirements

  1. Look at your competitor’s websites to give you an idea of other websites in your industry. Make a list of things you like such as elements on home page, banner, menu, etc. This exercise will give you more ideas about content and functionalities for your website.
  2. Make a list of pages or elements you need in your website. E.g.;
    • Home
    • About us
    • Services
      • Service 1
      • Service 2
    • Clients
    • Gallery or Portfolio
    • Contact us
  3. Decide what content should be on each page.
    It is usually helpful for the designer if you provide draft content. A designer will not create content / copy for your website as this is specific to your business and should be prepared by the website owner. You can however use a content writer to improve and finalise your content.

Design requirements

Once you have checked your competitor’s websites and have an idea of the elements, content and functionalities that you require for your website, make a list of your design requirements that you can give to your designer.

  • Colour preferences
  • Styles such as layout, blocks, forms etc.
  • Things you liked or disliked in your competitor websites as well as other websites you come across
  • Web address (URL) of the reference pages or websites
  • Your target audience type (such as teenager, corporate, high income, low income, etc.)
  • Goal of the website (e.g. how your website will fit into your business or personal requirements, what you really want to achieve through this website.)
  • What type of website it will be? e.g. ecommerce (B2b or B2C), Educational, Blog, Corporate, Catalog etc.

Development requirements

In addition to above mentioned design requirements if you consider few of followings, it will be helpful for you to find a developer.

  • How often will you need to update your website content?
  • If you require updates, who will be responsible for updates? Do you have in-house resources to do this or will you update the website yourself?
  • Which content will need to be updated? Classify the content/pages according to how often they will need to be updated; frequently, sometimes or rarely.
  • Do you need a funky flash banner or something animated?
  • If it is an ecommerce website then design will heavily depend on what kind of ecommerce system (osCommerce, Zen cart, Drupal or custom built system etc.) will be used.
  • If you are collecting data by users who fill various forms on your website such as job application form or contact form. E.g. you may need to sort all the data by date, name or title, you may need to export it in excel or pdf formats or generate reports from collected data. These are just examples, Try to note down as much details as possible about your requirements and how the website will be used in the business.

Now you have both the design and development requirements ready you should follow Neil’s suggestions. Along with his tips, I have few more tips that you might like to consider.

Make sure your website meets criteria such as:

  • W3C validated
  • Clean and properly commented code
  • Web pages are search engine friendly, such as:
    • Each page has unique static url (page address).
      e.g. Bad address: http://www.yourwebsite.com/?category=auto&product=cars&q=30
      Good address: http://www.yourwebsite.com/auto/cars/jaguar-xf
    • Each page has proper use of Meta Title, Description, Heading and ALT tags.
  • If there is a content management system or any other application developed to manage your website or part of the website, will your developer provide you with training to use it?
  • Will the developer provide you with any support after completion of the website? If yes, for how long and what it will include?
  • Once the website is launched and bugs/errors are found or something is not working as specified, will the developer fix it? Will it be included in the support agreement or will there be additional costs?

My Personal Suggestions:

  • Prepare some basic questions  for the developer and observe how the designer or developer answer these questions. Observe how the developer answers these questions and how they well they think of an effective solution.
    e.g. Suggest a very odd colour for your website to your designer that you think is not right for your target audience or business. Ask them what they think and see what suggestions they offer.

  • Discuss some problems and ideas with the designer/developer and observe their replies and suggestions. If they come up with a solution to problem or idea, try to explore it and go a bit deeper into the discussion. This observation will help you build your confidence in them and ensure you have the right person.
    e.g. Discuss some problems and ideas with the designer/developer and observe their replies and suggestions. If they come up with a solution to problem or idea, try to explore it and go a bit deeper into the discussion. This observation will help you build your confidence in them and ensure you have the right designer or developer.

Conclusion:

  • Do preparation before you approach web designer or developer.
  • Follow Neil’s Guide to find good designer and or developer.
  • Build confidence and agree on delivery and support terms.

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