“Web Design” is a fairly loose term that generally encompasses any work related to creating web sites that does not involve programming. We prefer to call the process of creating a web site “Web Development” and ourselves “Web Developers” as there is a lot more to creating an effective web site than just design. Finding the right web developer can be a difficult and confusing process. In any single area there are hundreds of “companies” (term used loosely) that offer web development services and choosing one that is responsive, skilled, and reliable can be a difficult task.
Types of Web Developers / Companies
There are three categories of web developers which any company or individual will fall within. Each category below will tell you a little about what factors go into the categorization of a particlular company.
A. Freelancers and Individuals:
There are many talented freelance developers out there and if you happen to hook up with the right one –their reduced overhead can save you some money (since they are working out of their house or apartmentand consequently have less expenses). However, for a lot of freelancers there is a reason why they haven’t been offered positions at legitimate web development firms or their business hasn’t grown large enough that they can rent an office, hire staff, and operate like a real company. The reason could be that they just want more flexibility but some common problems clients experience with freelancers are listed below:
- Poor attention to detail, professionalism, and overall quality
- Difficult to contact
- Completion Delays
- Dissappear after the down payment is made
- Overcharge for commodity services such as domain registration
Freelancers can be extremely good resources for work at a lower cost, but check them out just as you would a normal company.
B. Business Web Developers:
Business grade development companies can come in all shapes and sizes and you’ll need to check them out carefully, however if you are a small-medium sized business you are much more likely to find a qualified and respectable company for your needs in this category than in the other categories.
Good business web developers will typically have been around for a number of years and be able to produce a complete portfolio of completed projects and satisfied clients. Please see choosing a webdeveloper for more details on selecting the best company for your needs.
C. High-End Developers:
High-end developers typically work on sites or sub-sites for large companies like AT&T, HP, Wal-Mart,and others. While these companies most often produce high-quality work in the end, the methodology and unecessary expenditures for getting there often eat up a budget that would make a small-medium sized business cringe.
If you’re in the market for a company like this its still important to check the options out carefully. Even if a developer says they’ve worked for one of the big boys be sure and check their references. There are a lot of small projects that big companies work on one-time with an outside developer and may or may not have gotten the results they were looking for. Its also easy enough to put a big company’s logo on your web site and bet that nobody would ever be able to figure out whether you really worked with that company or not.
Evaluating Possible Web Development Companies:
a good web developer is like forming an important partnership. A good web developer will be able to understand your business and your objectives and be able to offer creative solutions to meet those objectives. When you choose a web development company – first and foremost they should be a stable business that has been around for a while and you can feel comfortable they are not going anywhere. We have seen too many clients that have made down payments for development that have been left hanging when the developer went out of business.
Second, and equally important, you should look at the projects a web developer has completed. If, with any particular design firm, you find the site colors are hideous, the design confusing, or it takes seven hours for the first screen to load, run – don’t walk – to another company.
If you like what you see enough to click past the first page, the next step is to see what kinds of services the firm offers. A really good company will be able to offer more than just design – they should be able to help you with a full range of services including e-commerce, application programming, hosting, e-mail, search engines, and other web marketing. Keep in mind that design firms tend to excel in some areas andlag in others, so make sure it can do the things you really need it to.
Take a look at the developers clients; do you like the sites the company has created? Do the sites they designed have the functionality you need in your site? Have they worked for companies similar to your own? Try contacting a client company to see what they say about their experience with the web developer.
Once you have a list of 3-4 web developers give a few of them a call and setup an appointment to discuss your requirements. After meeting with your prospective developers you should feel confident they understand what you want and can execute your vision for your web site. Once all your developer’s questions have been answered you can expect a proposal explaining how they are going to create your site. If all of the above steps have been completed properly simply choose the developer you believe will deliver the best overall result.
Getting Started / Switching to a New Developer:
If you don’t already have a web developer you’re in good shape. Simply contact the developer you want to work with and they can take it from there. Often, however, if you already have a site developed by another developer it can be a little more complicated. If you don’t plan to redesign the entire site and you don’thave direct access to your hosting company you will probably require a little cooperation from your previous developer. If you think your old developer will cooperate with your request to turn over your site to a new developer then just ask. However most likely if you are switching developers you don’t have a great relationship with your old developer. There are hundreds of variables that become important getting an old developer out of the picture. Most often your new developer can assist getting your old site directly under your control so they can take over.
FLASHPOINT can help you sort through these and any other questions and problems you might have. Check out our Services or Get Started!