Once you have figured out what type of website your business needs, the timeframe for its completion, and how much money you are willing to spend on the project, the next step is to evaluate potential developers. To get the ball rolling, it’s a good idea to have your business requirements spelled out in a detailed request for proposal. The RFP serves several purposes:
- It is useful for getting input and buy-in from various units within your organization.
- It ensures that responses address all of your business requirements.
- It facilitates the evaluation and comparison of responses.
In addition to reading the RFP responses, there are several other factors that should go into the evaluation process:
Experience – Consider developers with broad experience in various markets and in serving organizations of various sizes.
Portfolio – Review previous work so you can assess the developer’s design expertise, writing skill, and marketing proficiency.
Services – Look for a range of web development services, including those commonly overlooked: security, backup/recovery, domain record generation and validation (e.g., DKIM and SPF), and ADA compliance.
Testimonials – Check reviews for insights into whether a web developer has engaged in projects similar to your own.
Communication – A developer who knows how to express business-related concerns to clients is better able to deliver results.
Culture – Cultural similarities and differences between you and your web developer can determine the success or failure of the project. See if their personality and work pace matches your own. Is the developer easy to talk with? Does the developer return calls and respond to emails promptly? Is the developer open to new ideas? Can the developer recommend alternative solutions? Is the developer patient and courteous?
Additionally, don’t forget that your website will need ongoing maintenance and support. Not all developers want to continue the relationship and consider their job finished when the website is delivered. It is important to know this upfront so you can factor it into your decision-making.
A reliable web developer is essential to the success of any business with an online presence. If you fail to hire the right developer, you risk project delays and cost overruns, and a website that doesn’t quite meet your expectations and that is not user intuitive.
Nathan Muller is the author of 29 technical books and over 3,000 articles that have appeared in 75 publications worldwide. He also writes articles, blogs and social media content for tech companies and their executives.