Problem: When it comes to developing your site, how do you know who to trust? How do you avoid being taken advantage of by a developer? There’s a lot you can do, and it’s simpler than you think! It’s all about finding a geek who gets you. Read on for key ways to ensure that you stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to your website.
Gather all the other elements you need for the site
Make sure you have what you need, so that your developer has a good sense of the structure you want for your site. Your first priority is to get yourself properly set up for success. Follow these steps before contacting a web designer, to pave the way for a smooth web development process.
- Have your keyword research completed, as well as your site map.
- Write your content following the THBLI method or have it nearly finished. This will save your money, as it shows the developers you are ready to go and they do not have to wait for content for each web page.
- Prepare a Creative Brief for the Developer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest copy of our creative brief.
If you’ve never heard of a creative brief before, this comprehensive document provides your developer with a snapshot of your business and your overall vision for the site. This will include company mission, tagline, target audience, tonality, color scheme, and competitive sites for industry reference.
It’s also helpful to consider your requirements for the site. Go through the items below to see which best serve your needs:
- Mobile responsive site
- Shopping cart
- Credit card processing
- Opt-in box
- Site-wide search function
- Social Media sharing buttons
- Your TOP 10 favorite competitor sites
Apart from the buttons and functions you need in your site, there are a few other things to consider that really define the quality of your site. These include:
- Professional-grade photos (want to know what kinds of photos you need? Check out this helpful chapter from my book, HERE
- Color preferences
- Logins for current hosting, website, Google Analytics, and social media links
The more you can share your vision with the developer, the more likely your site will meet your expectations. You need to let the developer know if you require a shopping cart and credit card processing for example so these elements can be worked into the site from the beginning.
Ask for referrals from people you trust
One of the best ways to find a good developer is to reach out to your network. Why go through a long vetting process when someone who shares your values already has? This can save you time and get the most qualified candidates in front of you. Don’t just take their word on it though – have a look at their work! Do you love their website? Make sure it’s in line with your style and needs.
Beware of the sneaky “squid ink” move!
A HUGE red flag to look out for is the “squid ink” tactic. My husband once compared a certain type of developer to a giant squid. I’m no expert on giant squids, but apparently, they swim in fast and spew ink all over the place to muddy the waters and protect themselves to get away. “Squid Ink” developers purposefully cloud the client’s judgment with smoke-and-mirror strategies and big words meant to intimidate or confuse.
They can throw all sorts of complicated jargon at you that they know you won’t understand, hoping to overwhelm you into saying yes to a bid without having any control or understanding of what they offer. You don’t want that kind of manipulation going on with something as important as your business.
Don’t get stuck in “code jail” – some developers use a sneaky proprietary code, so that no one but them can make changes to the site. This is YOUR site; don’t let them play that game. The solution for this is to ask if the developer uses open source tools. Here’s a great definition of open source:
“When a software program is open source, it means the program’s source code is freely available to the public. Unlike commercial software, open source programs can be modified and distributed by anyone and are often developed as a community rather than by a single organization.” (source: http://www.techterms.com/definition/opensource)
Open source options for web design and development include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and SquareSpace. These tools are well respected, search engine friendly and have a content management system (CMS) that allows for easy content changes or updates which is essential for sustainable infrastructure.
Choosing one of these open source platforms for your website is smart, because you will be free to switch developers if the need arises, or even hire an in-house developer. Avoid developers who use other tools if you want to retain power over your site and have the freedom to hire and fire in case things don’t work out. YOU are the client, and this is YOUR site. No one belongs in the driver’s seat but you!
Set a Budget and Due Date
With a clearly defined date and budget, you can set expectations and have more accountability from your developer. Don’t skip this step – you don’t want to be hit with surprise expenses or unmet deadlines! Before actually starting your website project, it’s absolutely crucial that you establish your budget. If you don’t have a figure in mind, you could end up spending a lot more than you expected. In addition, letting a designer or developer know the budget helps them estimate your project more accurately and know what can be accomplished for that fee. They’ll know not to recommend things that are way out of your spending limit, but suggest extras that could improve your Findability if you have the funds clearly laid out.
In addition to the budget, choosing a due date gives your project measurable parameters. If the timing is unrealistic, web professionals will let you know that the job can’t be completed and they’ll ask for more time right away. If they agree to it, you have a time to hold them accountable to, which takes a lot of pressure and guesswork off your shoulders as you prepare to launch!
Next Steps: If you want to know more, check out my book here: http://a.co/8jcZySD or get on a free call to figure out the best next steps for your current webmaster romance or divorce, give me a call. 888-588-9326