But just having a broad and seemingly impressive portfolio is not a guarantee of the quality of work. Ask these simple questions to get a bit more information and see if the fit is right for you.
Will I have full control of my domain?
If you don’t have a domain already and you are not sure how to purchase one, you have a couple of options. You can ask your developer to point you in the right direction and assist in the purchase, or you let them purchase it for you.
If your developer does purchase your domain for you, just make sure they create a new account for you with the domain registrar and give you the access details afterwards. When everything is live, you can change the password if you wish.
Can you give me some examples of sites you’ve designed, built and maintained?
This question is designed to poke a bit deeper into a portfolio. Portfolios give a snapshot of work that has been completed but they don’t show the full scope of the work.
How long did it take to develop? What aspects did they do themselves, or didn’t do? How much did it cost?
Ask some of the natural questions that will pop into your head when you look at examples of work.
Will you help me choose the right plugins and third party systems?
You want to make sure your web developer knows what they’re doing, and this question will shine some light onto how knowledgeable they are. For example, when it comes to e-commerce websites, any developer worth their salt with talk about SSL certificates (HTTPS) or card security.
Or if you want to control your own content and manage SEO then they should suggest the right CMS for you and recommend plugins such as Yoast.
Most people aren’t aware of the choices there are when it comes to hosting a website, including the RAM and the platform of the hosting server (Linux/Windows), supported programming languages etc. and how these affect your loading time.
Ask this question and you’ll be able to gauge the level of knowledge your chosen developer has.
Remember it’s not your job to know the technicals and the developer should explain things so it makes sense and give you a few options with the pros and cons. If they just talk techno jargon, ask them what they mean.
Ultimately, you need something that does the job you want it to do, but it’s useful to find out a few basics.
What happens if I change my mind mid-project?
It happens. We all change our minds. And the process of choosing what’s right for your website is no different. To avoid frustration and confusion down the line, it’s important to ask what the processes would be if you decided to change your mind.
This could include questions about extra time to finish the website or costs incurred for work already done. Most developers know people change their mind so a good one will have some concrete answers to this question.
What are the costs and how are they calculated?
A lot of the time, a developer will give you a single cost for building you a website – and this is perfectly fine.
However, it’s always good to know what’s behind that cost. This is because a lot of the time it will include the cost of hosting – which is a cost that continues after the initial process of developing and launching a website – and registering a domain name.
It could also be useful to know how much is being outsourced and what the costs of those are for future reference when you’ll inevitably want to redesign your website!
Will you provide me with training to use my new website?
Many websites nowadays are built within the same platforms: WordPress, Magneto, Joomla and so on. Quite rightly you’ll want to be able to manage your own content and know how to use the system that your website is based within.
A good developer should happily show you the basics of how to use everything on your website, including uploading new content, changing existing copy, adding or removing menu tabs etc.
Asking this question before you commit to a developer can give you peace of mind about being able to use your new website.
These are but a few of the questions that can be asked of a web developer, but they will give you a good basis from which to make a decision. And hopefully you’ll think of some questions of your own that are related specifically to your needs!