This post is for those of you who have decided that you don’t want to DIY your website.
Instead, you know you would prefer to work with a website developer to build your website.
However, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about what to look for in a developer.
You don’t want to end up with someone who either is not capable or who won’t be a good personality fit.
How do you hire a high-quality web developer?
The fact is, without due diligence upfront, you could end up being my next horror story.
I have heard from many small business owners who have shared their absolutely awful website experiences.
Some of them were just annoying situations but some of them were complete nightmares.
I’m talking about website developers who hold websites hostage mafia style.
Or who push websites live that the business owner has never even seen.
Or needing to take legal action in order to regain ownership of a domain name because the developer decided to register it in his own name.
Often, it comes out during further conversation that the business owner did very little due diligence in terms of properly evaluating their website professional before hiring them.
They may have done a quick look at their portfolio, and then they handed over their money and their trust.
You Need to Do Your Due Diligence
I want to help you avoid making that mistake in the future.
That means, you’re going to need to ask a whole bunch of questions upfront of your potential website professional.
I can’t give you a foolproof way to find the perfect fit every single time. (I’d be a very rich woman if I had that solution.)
However, I can walk you through the types of questions to ask to significantly improve your chances of finding someone who fits your needs and who makes you confident and comfortable with the working relationship.
I would encourage you to sign up to get your copy of the cheat sheet above because in this and next week’s post, I am going to go through the questions in the cheat sheet, and provide guidance about the types of answers to expect.
The cheat sheet has been created mainly for those of you who are looking to hire a WordPress developer, and as such, you’ll also find that it contains my team’s recommended minimum WordPress development capabilities.
This has been included so you can share that capabilities list with any potential developers you are considering, in order to determine whether they meet what we believe is the requirement for a really solid WordPress developer.
However, even if you’re looking to hire a non-WordPress developer, you’ll likely find a lot of questions related to their working style and process that may give you some inspiration as you interview potential candidates for your website project.
The Interview Questions Cheat Sheet
The cheat sheet is broken down into four areas of questions:
- Availability & Working Style
- Examples of Work
- Process & Development Approach
In this post, I’ll focus on Experience and Availability & Working Style.
In next week’s post, I’ll cover Examples of Work and Process & Development Approach.
Let me be clear. I don’t suggest that you send an email including the entire list of questions to a potential developer, as that would feel very overwhelming on the receiving end.
However, you absolutely should be having a consultation call with any potential developers you are considering, and this may help you to shape those questions you ask during that call.
Building a website can be a very expensive project, and I want you to feel as confident as possible in the website professional that you contract for your project.
The only way to do that is to gather the information you need to make a sound decision.
How long have you been a developer, and how did you get into the field?
I would suggest looking for someone who has at least three years of experience as a developer, but five or more years is ideal.
As far as how they got into the field, any number of reasons could be good answers, whether that’s in school, or as a hobby.
It’s less about the specific answer and more about gaining a gauge of their passion and commitment to their work by their inspiration for getting into, and experience working within web development.
How many websites have you built?
Ideally, they’ll have built so many that they’ve lost count! But if you’re looking for a website developer with strong capabilities, you likely won’t want to hire someone who has built fewer than five to ten custom website projects.
You can certainly hire someone with less experience, but just be aware that they are less practiced than what you might be seeking.
Do you have any design experience?
If you are working with a website company that provides a full website solution, from website strategy, through design and development, then you would obviously expect them to have a capable website designer on the team.
However, if you’re working with a developer specifically, for example, if you had a designer design your website artwork to be coded up separately, then it can be useful to ask your potential developer if they have any design experience.
This is not necessarily a prerequisite but it’s a great perk to have. It can be very advantageous to have a developer with a strong design sense for making aesthetic decisions.
For example, this can come in handy when your developer needs to make content styling decisions on pages where completed design artwork may not be available, which might happen if your designer only designed some of the pages of your website and not all of them.
It’s important to realize that some developers lack design skills entirely.
Do you have any experience with email marketing integrations?
For example, integrations might include those such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, and so on.
This is also good to have as email marketing providers are fairly easy to integrate, so I would expect the answer to be yes for this.
Availability & Working Style
Will you work with another designer (e.g., just do the development) or do you have to do the whole process? If you are willing to work with another designer, what does the hand-off process look like?
Sometimes you may be in a position where you want to work with a fantastic designer to create the design of your website and then work with someone who specializes in development to do the actual coding of your website.
If that’s the situation you find yourself in, make sure that your developer is amenable to that.
My team and I have loads of experience working alongside other agencies that have handled the branding and design portion and we just focus on the coding of it, and quite frankly, those are the projects we like the best.
However, not all website firms feel the same and some will only take on the projects that involve both the design and development.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re on the same page as your potential website professional.
What is your current workload? How long would it take to do a small task? A large project?
This is going to likely impact their availability to get started and the time frame for your website project.
This is one of those questions that doesn’t necessarily have a right answer, it’s more about getting on the same page as your potential developer and ensuring that expectations are being managed.
In addition to ensuring you find someone who is highly experienced and competent, your personality fit and working fit are just as important. It’s important to set expectations early and discuss theirs.
All the skills in the land won’t matter if it feels like they’re impossible to approach or discuss concerns with.
What is your response time? Do you work and respond to emails every day or only in specific windows?
You need to understand what is important to you in terms of response time and availability.
If you want someone who can always respond within 24 business hours and your developer has a one-week response window, then that’s something you want to know upfront before you both get eyeballs deep into a project together.
We are known for being highly responsive when working on website projects because I believe that for me to support my clients effectively, high responsiveness is critical to client satisfaction and success.
Now, that does not mean that whatever request has been made will be immediately completed.
As a client, you do need to understand that your developer will likely have multiple projects and that even tasks that seem simple may be more complex and time-consuming than you realize.
Depending on your needs for a developer you may be more flexible about responsiveness and turnaround times and this might not be a concern, but if you have particular needs or expectations, it’s important to be transparent at the outset.
Additionally, you could be in completely different time zones, so that’s a factor to understand as well in terms of when they will have availability.
Watch for next week’s post when I’ll tackle the remainder of the Interview Cheat Sheet questions.