Internet-Services How do I choose the best web developer?

Have you got the wisdom of Solomon when it comes to choosing a team to work with or do you end up kissing a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming.

Here are the Key recommendations on choosing your next web developer so you get it right first time. 

When it comes to choosing anything that’s outside your area of expertise what do we rely upon? Often it’s down to our own research and that involves talking to friends and associates. This however can lead you down a path where the results will not necessarily be what you want. With any project with a new partner or supplier there has to be a degree of due diligence to be done.

So when it comes to choosing a web developer do not go with the daughter’s boyfriend or the bloke you know who knows someone from down the pub unless you have done adequate due diligence – charming associations made over a pint in the local are not necessarily the right qualifications for an online digital specialist who could make your business go stratospheric.

Having delivered online success to businesses of every shape and size since the last millennium Toucan Internet LLP has rescued clients from any number of wayward web developers – we’ve seen the grief people get first hand when choosing the wrong web partner. We’ve had panic phone calls from people recommended to us by existing clients. The panics usually revolve around their company being abandoned one way or another by their current web developers and this has extended to comments like, “help, my web developer controls all my domain names on my websites and we’ve fallen out”, “help, my web developer has a problem with controlled substances and he’s the only one with access to our website, and last we knew he was off clubbing in Spain four months ago”, “help, my web developer is charging me a fortune for simple updates we want to be able to manage ourselves” and so the list of woe goes on.

Given the knowledge we’ve gathered over the last three decades here are some recommendations you may find useful when checking in with the right online development team. 

First Key Recommendation

Choose a team rather than just an individual.

This gives you the resilience that if one person is not available then there are other team members there in support. You don’t have all your eggs in one basket. 

Second Key Recommendation

Choose a team that has a full and complete basket of skills.

You will rarely find excellence in all key disciplines in just one person. Fundamentally a great website will pay homage to your visual identity, it will be written such that the tone is in line with your brand, the photography will be a correct match for you, videos will emphasise your mission goals, the SEO will be aligned with your goals – everything will be professionally managed.

Make certain that the team that you choose has all the key skill bases covered. Your website project will invariably need a backend developer to write the code, a frontend developer to ensure that the pages work well across all devices and the user experience is good, a copywriter who understands SEO to ensure that the page copy is written in your language and in such a way that both engages the client as well as the interest of Google, a photographer, videographer, the creative graphic designers will understand your individual markets and more importantly a project manager that will pull all of this together and make the journey a fun one and deliver the magic you want.

This doesn’t happen by chance. 

Third Key Recommendation

Do your due diligence on your prospective choice.

Please do look at other web developments that the team you’re considering has put together. Choose and review their examples that match the resources that you are looking for in your website. If you are looking for an eCommerce shop then look at all the eCommerce shops that they have built; do not be put off by the fact that they may have not built an eCommerce shop for your exact industry as generally the skills and knowledge are transferable across markets.

Delve a little so that you see examples that match the success criteria that you are looking for. So if you have an objective to reach high visitor numbers through good search engine positions then ask for a demonstration of this. If there’s a need for logo and visual identity development ask for a demonstration, if the site must work well on a smartphone ask for a demonstration. 

Fourth Key Recommendation

Will they fully engage?

This comes by way of a discussion I had with the client a couple of weeks ago after engaging us for their web development project. They said “you are a little bit different to the rest”. This peeked my interest. Quizzing her on this she said that the other agencies they had discussed their requirement with came back with a simple price for the job. It turns out that where we were different was that we first of all wanted to know more about the client’s business, why they do what they do, how they get the successes they get, and what they are striving for now.

Make sure your chosen development team is as passionate about your business as they are about theirs.

A developer without an understanding of you and your aspirations will develop a website that’s likely to be very ineffectual and one that does not strike a chord with any likely customer of yours. 

Fifth Key Recommendation

The resources to reach hundreds and thousands of likely clients is readily available.

David and Goliath is a fanciful story with a great message however if your business is looking for an enterprise wide website with significant systems integration and to function as part of a wider marketing drive, then the chances of having success with a talented school leaver who knows WordPress and is “clever with computers” is never going to have the resources to give your enterprise what it needs.

The success is there for the taking, you just need the right team in both size and capability to make it happen. Do they provide web hosting, brand work, supporting offline services, online marketing, social media programs, search engine optimisation and so on because you will eventually want or need all these resources when you go into battle to win more business. 

Sixth Key Recommendation

Have they earnt their spurs?

Is your perspective web developer a passing ship in the night or have they got some serious pedigree and been around doing this for a long time. Whilst everybody’s got to start somewhere you have to balance up the risks of going with a team of minimal experience let alone an individual. 

Seventh Key Recommendation

Does your chosen team have a broad vision?

Especially if your web project involves integration with other systems then you need a team that understands all the above but also process. Projects such as this will need to be scoped out fully with an agreed specification in place before any development work takes place.

An agreed specification after a scoping round with all stakeholders gives everyone the assurance that they are embarking on a project journey with a well-defined end goal in place together with how it is going to be achieved.

It is when web developments of any size start without sufficient discovery and specification in place that they will invariably go off the rails – finishing  late, finishing over budget and finishing in a compromised fashion with the relationships in a poor state.

I can’t emphasise enough how vitally important a fully scoped foundation document that defines everything is the keystone to the success of a project and to the start of a relationship that will span decades. The devil is in the detail.

Eighth Key Recommendation

You are a critical member of the delivery team.

This one is actually a little bit flipped on its head as it impinges more on you than it does the web development company. You also have a key role in making the project a success. Principally there are two demands on you. Firstly you must understand the full extent of what you are asking from the development team; we have embarked on projects in the early days believing there was complete understanding when actually the client had his head in the clouds with regards to the actual complexity of what they were asking. The second point here is that great websites come from a functioning unit and you or your marketing team, with unique knowledge of both your marketplace and your company, have a significant role to play here in providing the valuable content and content direction.

The Last Key Recommendation

Are you and the prospective team aligned?

This is probably one of the most important ones; being human. Do the people you intend to work with on your website fit with you? Are you a good working team? Are your values aligned?

Instinctively if you feel there is something wrong then invariably the relationship will not be anywhere near as strong as it should be and the results will therefore suffer. Trust your instincts on this.

This development team is taking you on a journey and it’s got to be fun and profitable for everyone.

Take these onboard for your next project and there’s a very good chance of excellent outcomes.

To  explore these further, reach out to me at any of the contact points below.

The rate of change in the world today is phenomenal and if we can help make your online wheels spin faster, that’s what excites us.