Website Development

10 Questions To Ask A Web Developer Before Hiring

10 Questions to Ask Web Developers

Like most professionals, web developers benefit from one major advantage over their clients. That is, web developers understand their craft much better than you ever will. Therefor, finding a web developer you would trust with your business life is critical.

Yet, most of us don’t know have best friends that are also fluent in code. Just like when we hand over our keys to the local mechanic, when we hire a web developer we’re mostly hoping they’re moral compass is in tune. All this leads us to the big question, How can you be sure your next web developer is trustworthy, or even competent?

In this article, we’ll give you the right questions to ask your next web developer. These questions are designed to explore the competency and the trustworthiness of your prospective vendor. Don’t worry if you can’t grade every answer. We’ll let you know what to look for. Enjoy!

#1 Google’s Index Is {Fill In The Blank} First?

A great test question. The correct answer to this question is ‘mobile.’ Why is this so critical? Your web developer may or may not offer marketing services. Regardless, they should understand the importance of responsive (mobile adapting) programming. Google weighs mobile traffic heavier than desktop. If your developer knows that, than they know to prioritize your mobile design and development.

#2 How Can You Justify Your Cost Against Inexpensive Platforms Such As Squarespace?

Squarespace, WIx and even most hosting companies provide some sort of easy to use website builder. Not only are these services becoming more popular, but they’re also getting better and more inexpensive. The documentation on these services is extensive, and the DIY types can really make a quality product with a little elbow grease. The truth is, a pretty face on your new website just won’t cut it anymore.

Your prospective web developer shouldn’t evade this question, but instead embrace it. The truth is, yes there are very inexpensive options available. They’re not magic and there is a learning curve to these systems, but you can save a few dollars.

So, how can they possibly justify their cost? The answer is the return. Hopefully, your prospective developer is speaking to the potential return with a website designed to convert more leads and produce additional revenue. As well as provide a product that’s easier for you to self manage and save you money down the road on expensive issues that arise from DIY projects. In short, the cost is justified by providing a product that generates more in the long run.

#3 What CMS Do You Recommend & Why?

Every web development agency has their own preference, but there are some CMS options that are red flags. As well, this question is important because your developer should be willing to educate you on what they choose and why. Just the same, your web developer should be able to tell you what they will not recommend and why not.

The red flags are simple. First flag is having no preference. No preference means they don’t have enough experience to commit to a solid recommendation for their clients. Second red flag is a custom CMS. Custom CMS builders are usually traps. Custom CMS typically require lots of future maintenance. Seeing as they’re custom and only understood by the original developer, you’re locked into their expensive rates to repair issues they failed to fix pre launch. If your prospective web developer is bragging about their custom CMS, turn and run.

#4 When You Rebuild My Website, How Are You Going To Maintain Or Improve The Site Architecture?

Another great test of future performance. Again, not all web development agencies focus on marketing, but they should have an understanding of what might negatively impact you in the future.

The correct answer to this question is something similar to the following. First, we’ll crawl your existing website and download your existing architecture. We’ll then fit your URL structure into our wireframe. Any pages that are eliminated, or recommendations that are accepted and implemented, will then be accounted for by a 301 redirect strategy.

What does all of this mean? This means that your new website won’t shoot out redflags, or missing pages, to Google after launch. If your new website is launched and a bunch of pre existing pages have been removed, Google will flag your website with one error for every missing page. Then you will most likely be punished with lower rankings in the popular search engine.

#5 In Detail, Explain To Me How My New Website WIll Comply With The GDPR

Another competency test, this question will reveal how familiar with recent events and best practices your prospective web development agency is. The GDPR is not yet established in the US, but user privacy is a major concern these days and we would still recommend GDPR compliance. It shows users that you’re serious about their privacy and the experience they have on your website.

Be sure your web development agency has user experience in mind, including the protection and encryption of any data released on your website. They should look for opportunities to display the efforts taken for GDPR compliance, as this will signal trust to your users.

#6 Besides A Fresh Design, How Do You Plan To Upgrade My Web Presence?

This is one of, if not the most important question your prospective agency will answer. Similar to question two, this is a chance for the web development agency to sell themselves. The truth is, web development is easier than it’s ever been. So easy in fact, you could probably take on this project yourself if you had the time.

In this segment, let your guard down and let the agency try to sell you. At this point, if they’ve earned your trust, now they can get you excited about how they’re going to really set you apart. Whatever you’re being pitched, when it’s all said and done, the next level of service they’re going to offer needs to impact the bottom line someway. If they’ve barely scratched the surface of strategy, and really stayed at design and development, than this agency is not for you.

#7 If I Audited Your Most Recent Launch, What Mistakes Would I Find?

Just like a job interview, you want to give your next web dev agency a chance to self evaluate. The purpose of this question isn’t to be hard on anybody, but to make sure any prospective vendor is always looking to get better and improve process.

Most projects hit a road bump or two. Even if they don’t, there’s almost always budget restraints that stop any good web dev agency from finishing their “wish list.” This question should reveal a bit into the agencies innovative ambitions.

#8 Post Launch, What Services & Warranties Do You Offer?

Don’t sign a new contract without a warranty. At least 30 days should be awarded for a faulty product. If your website is launched then gets hacked, or breaks on an update, your web development agency should be held accountable for their product.

Most CMS take maintenance, at least quarterly. Make sure your agency offers some sort of affordable program for ongoing maintenance. Just like a car, preventative maintenance makes for a long lasting vehicle that won’t break down on its way to your destination.

#9 Do You Use Custom Or Pre Built Frameworks & Themes?

There’s nothing wrong with custom frameworks or custom themes, in fact many time they’re preferred. There’s also nothing wrong with pre built options. Just make sure your agency is transparent about what they’re using. Custom options take longer and cost more. What you do not want is to be charged custom prices for prebuilt themes. Prebuilt themes and frameworks provide a giant head start to the leg work of a new website project.

#10 One Year After Launch, How Should I Measure The Success Of My Website?

FInally, the juicy stuff. This question should provide a look into the value your new web dev agency is providing. A year from now, what will have improved for my company with your new website? Without an in depth answer to this question, why would you be hiring anyone at all.

Like we said, the bottom line here is revenue. You want more than a facelift on your digital brand. How will a new website increase web traffic, leads or even sales?

Hopefully, your prospective web dev agency answers somewhat like this.

In a year from now, assuming all else has stayed the same, we believe the analytics will reflect a better user experience. Your users will show a higher time on page, a better conversion rate and far less bounces.

In Conclusion

Hiring a new web development agency can be intimidating. Heading into the sales process, you’re at a major disadvantage without the same level of knowledge as your vendor. Follow this guide and don’t be shy about asking web development agencies the tough questions.

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