In part one of our Getting Started series, we discussed how to determine your basic web design needs so you can effectively communicate those to your developer. In this article, we will discuss finding that developer for your project.
This can be a very intimidating step. Where do you start? What questions do you ask? How do you know the designer can do what they say they can do? And what’s the difference between a designer and a developer, anyway? These are all really good questions and we’ll start with those.
Where do you start?
There are many options for finding Colorado Springs web designers or developer to handle your project. You can check in the phone book for a local provider, you can use a search engine, or you can try one of the online freelance marketplaces (such as Upwork.com, Guru.com, or one of many others). You can also ask friends or colleagues about their web developer. You can’t get a better referral than a good word-of-mouth recommendation!
However you select a designer, make sure they can be easily contacted and they are willing to make themselves available for questions. E-mail a question to test their response time. If they don’t answer within one or two business days, then they are either not interested, or they are probably too booked to handle a new project. Move on to the next one. If they are vague with details or seem unwilling to offer an actual quote, then they are probably not “customer-service-oriented” developers. As long as you have done your homework in Part 1 of this series, any developer should be able to offer at least a ballpark quote. And if they have a phone number, by all means call it!
What questions do I ask?
Ask about qualifications and/or past clients. Ask for references. Ask about the possibilities of your project and how long it might take. Ask them if they have the skills to perform the job and what solutions they might be considering. Ask them about their terms and payment procedures. Ask them about warranties. Ask anything, really! But ask, ask, ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and any professional who would treat your questions in such a manner is not a designer you want to work with anyway. A good developer knows that not every client is tech-savvy. If they refuse to speak to you in plain ole English, or appear arrogant or impatient in their responses, then it might be a good idea to move on. And that’s okay – there are a lot of web developers out there.
How do you know the web designer can do what they say they can do?
It is important to do everything you can to be sure your designer has a good reputation. This is easy to see if you are using an online marketplace. Most job boards will offer a feedback score, comments, number of projects completed, certifications and/or degrees obtained, and a slew of other information. Be careful, though – some of the feedback scores can be misleading. You should read any comments posted, along with any numbered rating they have been given, to better determine how the designer deals with his or her clients. If you are searching online or using the local directories, then ask for references. Any reputable developer should be more than willing to send at least three references with full contact information. Then…call them!
Look at their portfolio and/or website. Does it look professional or did they just slap up a couple of screenshots? Are the examples consistent with the skills the developer boasts? Check to see if any of the websites they designed are online. Expect some to be offline; not every business website is successful and this is not necessarily due to the web designer. But they should have at least a few working examples for you to review. If there is no portfolio at all, then I would suggest you move along to the next person on your list. There is simply no excuse for a web developer to not have an online portfolio for you to review.
What’s the difference between a designer and a developer?
Many people confuse these two job descriptions quite frequently. By definition, a designer is a person who specializes in design. Many of them are more than capable of installing a CMS, installing forms, putting up basic HTML pages, installing scripts, and so on. But hard-core programmers, they are not! Web designers are at the creative end of the spectrum. If you want something unique and eye catching, maybe with a bit of flash, then a web designer is the way to go.
A web developer is more of a programmer than a designer. This person specializes in unique solutions and custom databases. They know code and they can manipulate it however they see fit. In effect, they are web programmers. A web developer can also be a person who specializes in installation or customization of content management systems, like WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. If your website will have complex features, deal with money, or store private information, a web developer or web programmer would be the way to go. Many developers are more than capable of delivering a great design though, so don’t think your site won’t look nice. Just keep in mind that they are not normally design specialists. What they do deliver are sites that WORK, and that is very important.
It is not uncommon to have a web designer and a web developer working together on the same project. It is not unheard of to find a designer who is also a developer. I know a few designers who are also writers or savvy Internet marketers. It all depends on how their journey on the Internet evolved. Each one can bring something unique and different to your website project. Ask about their specific skill sets, strong suits, and weak areas. Not one of us could possibly have had time to learn every single technique and tactic to use, so if you ask them specifically about their unique skill set and how they can best provide a solution that will work for your particular site, you can more easily determine the “best fit” for your project.
And finally…use your best judgment. Trust that little voice inside of you. Use common sense. If something sounds too good to be true…
Click here to read the next part: Your Website: Getting Started – Part 3, Participation.
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