How to Choose a Web Development Company: Tips to Follow
Are you building a company, community organization, business, or want to revitalize your personal online presence? Whatever the purpose, you need a website. According to official data, there are now about 2 billion of them functioning. The real-time online statistics counter shows that every second, a new one appears on the Internet.
Whether your expectations are met depends largely on the contractor. Much like building a house, a solid foundation must first be built. If you have chosen the wrong specialists, the project will fail.
The population of web designers is also growing. Now in the United States, there are about 180,000 of them, and by 2030 there will be more than 205,000. A professional will provide a solution to meet your current and future requirements. Therefore, it is worth investing in a website. But don’t waste your money. This article explains what to look for when choosing a developer. Read carefully to avoid mistakes.
Preparation: what about your goals?
At the heart of each project are an idea and specific tasks. Understanding them clearly and aligning them with your budget is the foundation of success. Before contacting the developers, you need to understand what type of site you need. Here are some popular varieties.
Business card website
The main task of this type of website is to present data about the object. It has a laconic but functional design and includes several pages with basic information about the company, types of services, prices, contacts, etc.
This is a good option for a company with a large number of remote branches or subsidiaries. It allows you to establish management, interaction, and workflow between structural units. Design usually includes corporate colors, logos, values and business data, and company history. A corporate image site is aimed at consumers of the company’s services or products. It provides information about the brand, loyalty programs, promotions, a product catalog with photos, and detailed product descriptions.
The main goal of this kind of site is sales. A product catalog and an order page with payment options are required. The administrator of the site is obliged to arrange delivery, as well as resolve issues with buyers.
This option contains a large amount of information structured by thematic sections. This option is for a magazine, virtual encyclopedia, or library.
The main purpose of this type of site is to provide information about games. This will be a fairly complex and highly loaded site, which should be as resource-intensive as possible. It includes several standard sections: information search with links to relevant topics and a news block. There should also be specialized forums with high-quality moderation.
Usually, this is a non-commercial project. The purpose of the site is to attract visitors to get acquainted with the information presented. This type of site will contain a lot of statistics, graphic information, and text materials. The second function is advertising. If it has competent content, the project will provide a high level of traffic to the partners’ commercial sites. This type of site may also be educational or entertaining.
Created to promote a product, service, or the main site of the company. It is easily optimized for search engine rankings, which means it will attract the maximum number of visitors, leading to increased profits.
This is a combination of news feed, forum, and guestbook. Due to the frequent updating of information, it is better indexed by search engines. Today it is one of the most popular formats. There are no special requirements for design. Avoid flashy designs, overly contrasting designs, and unreadable fonts.
Platforms, functionality, data volumes, and other characteristics of sites can vary greatly, both in terms of complexity and cost of implementation. Determine your budget and what you want to get in the end. When you have a clear idea, tell the developer about it.
Why Your Goals Affect the Company Selection
A common understanding of the objectives will help you confirm the viability of the idea and develop a strategy for its implementation. An experienced developer will review them from your perspective and suggest solutions that suit your needs, brand, goals, and audience.
Start by examining how the potential partner’s team and services fit your needs. Rate the solutions they have offered to other clients. They must be tailored to specific requirements. Answer the following questions:
- Are all solutions standard?
- Do they know the target audience or do they use templates?
- How thoughtful is the design and does it reflect the brand’s values?
Understanding the goals
You must know exactly what you want. Your partner’s job depends on it. For example, if a site is being built from scratch, an extended development team will be required. An e-commerce site requires more experience, time, and effort.
Product hypothesis testing and MVP
If a product viability check is needed, a manual MVP prototype will be required to determine the value of your proposal. This strategy will help you validate the result as well as monitor usability.
Scaling the project
Your site will not develop if it cannot support:
- Large amounts of data.
- Currency conversion.
- Management of traffic growth from paid marketing campaigns, etc.
Solving these problems will require scaling, especially when it comes to SaaS development. Identifying blockers and inaccuracies will help determine the capabilities that a web developer should have.
Creating a landing page or corporate website
Do you need quality marketing? Design a landing page. This is used to generate leads and contains calls to action that allow the user to take the desired action. There should be a lot of white space around the CTA and no unnecessary elements. An experienced developer will help you with the design.
A corporate website is created for online business branding. It is important to present the services to the target audience in an understandable way. The website should portray your corporate brand as professional, reliable, and credible.
Thus, the requirements for a developer depend on your goals. Draw a clear picture in your mind. Pay attention to the team structure of the company you plan to partner with.
In particular, a smart website should have advanced features:
- Multilevel management
- Advanced framework
- Huge database
- Easily add and sync content
You need a strong design department, which should include:
- Artistic director
- Head of the design team
- Graphic, UI, and UX designers
- UX analysts and copywriters
If you need to quickly hire additional developers, use our tips.
Look for talent in the right places
- Local tech community events (meetings, hackathons).
- Specialized talent markets, forums, websites.
- Social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook.
- Open-source sites – GitHub, Stackflow, etc.
Learn the language of the tech guys
Build relationships with professionals in their language. It is not necessary to learn it, but you need to know the basics of programming. It is also important to know what skills and experience you need.
Create a candidate identity
Try to find out the following:
- What kind of person are they?
- What skills do they have?
- What approach is needed from them?
- Why would they work with you?
Consider the needs of the worker
- Possible problems?
Test your skills
Let them demonstrate their ability to solve specific problems that may be simple for your specialists. Wit is a lead generation tactic. If a person shows it, you should pay attention to it.
Add an element of surprise disguised as a quest. This will help you assess the candidate’s personal qualities and ability to work in teams. Get creative.
Increase the number of job applications
Make talent acquisition a priority. Then measure it with an app tracking system (ATS). Finally, during the interview, ask relevant questions.
5 Most Important Criteria to be Aware of
Once the goals are in place, it should be easy for you to select the right web development team. However, there are some key markers to look out for first.
Every web development company has a website. Your first step should be to look at what they have implemented for themselves and draw some initial conclusions. There will likely be a section called “Case studies” or “Our projects” where the company’s best projects are presented. Study them carefully.
Choose a company that has experience working with clients like you. Most likely, they are already familiar with similar problems and solutions. Pay attention to the reviews.
Determine your main specialization. This could be MVP, product scaling, or technical resource provision. Choose the developer that best suits your needs.
Read their programming language. If it’s overly technical, communicating with the developer won’t be easy. Ask them to use simpler, more understandable language, or look for another company.
Use the following types of informational social influence:
- Positive customer reviews are the best way to understand who you are dealing with. Search the industry-leading sites – Google, Clutch, and Yelp.
- Customer reviews are a good way to learn about developer competencies. Read them. Better yet, contact them directly.
- The number of clients. A company with a small number of clients is unlikely to have enough experience. It is very good if it has collaborated with well-known brands.
- Awards/recognitions. Obvious evidence of merit is an additional pro when choosing web development services.
- Social reposts. Real facts and people’s opinions about the company testify to its social significance. Check publications on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, or any resource where its subscribers are active. There should be a lot of them.
Interview: key criterion
Once you’ve created your list of candidates, get to know the people. See how quickly the company responds to your request. You should get a response within 24-48 hours. If the company is interested, that’s a good sign. Responsiveness is one of the most important factors to consider.
Determine the skills and potential of the developer. Pay attention to the way they communicate. When choosing a contractor, it is worth knowing how much you are willing to spend on a project. Get complete information on packages or services, pricing models, and billing procedures if any features are added.
Clarify how they measure results. Inquire about the customer retention rates of online stores created by the agency. If it is at least 70%, that’s good. Find out who will be personally responsible for your site.
8 Questions to Ask Your Future Contractor
In the negotiation stage of a project, it is imperative to communicate the key points. Ask questions regarding:
- Stages and terms of development.
- A number of people and team management.
- Possibility of creating a responsive website.
- Using version control.
- Tracking bugs/problems.
- Product reporting and quality assurance.
- Access to all files and internal design use.
- Ensuring the performance of the site in the future.
The development will not be effective if some of these stages are skipped. Too much time spent on a project can make it meaningless. Proprietary processes and systems are a hallmark of reliability, consistency, and design quality.
Many web development companies don’t have their own teams. However, you don’t need a mediator at all. If the team has worked together for a long time, then they are well-coordinated, experienced, and it is easier for them to solve problems.
It is also possible that the developers don’t know very much, so they offer their services at a lower price. This is also not a good option. And there are others who hold clients hostage. Please note that upon completion of the project, you should receive all files, including the source files.
Most websites run on mobile devices. Make sure yours will adapt.
What you need is an inexpensive and widely used technology that will provide the functionality you need for years to come. Learn about a usability approach. The usability of the site affects business metrics – conversion rate, time spent on a page, number of bounces, etc. SEO depends on them. Be sure to ask what approach is being taken to deliver the best user experience.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website in 2022?
The cost of the project depends on the pricing and the time spent on it. The following is the most influential.
Tools and technologies
Programming languages, CMS, databases, etc. significantly affect the development price. It also depends on the use of external tools, plugins, applications, and platforms.
Domain and hosting
The domain name (online address) and web hosting (internet hosting) are important elements in calculating the cost of a website.
The final cost will largely depend on the type of project. A simple blog or static website is relatively inexpensive. A fully functional e-commerce site will cost significantly more.
Design is an important factor in determining the total cost of a website. A professional freelancer from a platform like Upwork or Fiverr can create a custom website for thousands of dollars using simple tools. A large agency will demand several times more for the same work.
Even if a different calculation method is used, the cost ultimately adds up to the number of hours spent on development. For an accurate calculation, you need a brief (a questionnaire detailing the requirements).
Marketing and service
The website needs regular updates and maintenance to meet the needs of its users. Marketing is an important part of this process, and not the cheapest one, either.
To create a website, you need to prepare content and graphics, choose fonts and digital links, and do a lot of other things. All this needs to be placed in the right location on the website, which is not easy. This all takes time and increases the developer’s wage.
Content is an important factor in the success of a website. Specialized companies often combine development and content marketing services. Thus, their package offerings are more expensive.
Here are some rough figures for today:
- Information site, a portal for small business: development – from $1,000 to $9,000; update and annual maintenance – from $300 to $1,500.
- Corporate website: design – $10,000 to $35,000; update and annual maintenance – from $2,000 to $15,000.
- E-commerce website: designs from $5,000 to $55,000; maintenance and upgrades – from $15,000 to $20,000.
How to Communicate With Web Development Agency When the Project Has Started
Do you want to actively participate in your web project from start to finish? Over the course of the work, there may be problems. Changes, clarifications, and additions may be required. To do this, you need to properly build communication with the developer and establish a regular reporting system (on a weekly, monthly, or daily basis). This is the only way to avoid jeopardizing the deadlines and increasing the final cost.
Before signing a contract, evaluate the developer’s communication culture by asking the following questions:
- Does their communication and collaboration process match what you are working on?
- Will the team be available through multiple communication channels and at what times?
- Who should you contact in the case of problems, inquiries, feedback, etc.?
- What is the response time for your inquiries?
The more communication channels the better. Misunderstanding is the enemy of success. Equally important are personal meetings and presentations, during which the parties can more clearly explain their vision of processes, products, etc.
All negotiations, meetings, and agreements must be documented. Each stage of the work must be confirmed. This will help you avoid wasting time, money, and even lawsuits.
Designate a developer with a basic understanding of website design as the responsible developer. This can be an employee of the IT department or someone from marketing or public relations.
Moreover, their help will be required after the completion of the project. Increased workload, growing customer base, viruses, and other problems will require professional intervention. Who, if not the creators of the site, is best equipped to deal with these problems?
What to Do if the Development Company Misses Deadlines
If the contractor is delaying the deadline, you need to:
- Identify the reasons. Perhaps the project turned out to be more difficult due to added requirements. In this case, the deadline should be reviewed. If the problem is a lack of communication, the deadline will have to be corrected.
- Highlight performance issues. Find your weakest link and make the right decision, whether that is additional coaching or termination. But first, make sure you have tried every method. Solving such problems will certainly improve the productivity of the rest of the team.
If it turns out that the developer is not able to handle the task, look for another one. It is difficult to identify a substandard contractor in the early stages of cooperation. It is another matter if they are immediately unable to handle the assigned tasks, or if they are slow in answering your calls and responding to requests. It is better to initially involve professionals in the work. Let them set the deadlines themselves. That way, they will be less likely to miss them. If they still miss the deadline, proceed as follows:
- Discuss a timeline with a technician. You can implement the same functionality in different ways, requiring different time frames.
- Set clear goals. Breaking your project down into smaller iterations with fewer tasks can help the developer manage their time more accurately.
Only the owner of the project knows all the details. Therefore, you should check in from time to time to see how the development is going. Give timely feedback, answer developer questions right away, and use project management tools (S-pro, Jira, Trello, etc.). They save every team member time through centralized planning.
The more complex the project, the more time it will take. At the beginning of the journey, the work proceeds with great enthusiasm. Then interest and motivation decrease. The development team needs to be supported by expressions of appreciation or monetary rewards. The main thing is to make the team feel that they are using their resources for a really worthwhile cause.
Choosing the Right Partner
Let’s summarize. The idea of partnering with a contractor is for them to be on the same side as the client. A union of like-minded people should show the best results. Look for cultural similarities. Examine the internal culture of the developer company to see how they will work with you and take care of their customers. There should also be similarities in the nature and pace of work. This is crucial for the team.
Make sure the agency is committed to an agile culture. It is good if it is able to instantly react to changes. It is even better if they practice a constant exchange of information. It is important that the tactics of adapting to evolving technologies and trends match your expectations.
Give preference to web studios. Freelancers are willing to work at low rates, but their reliability as performers is sometimes questionable. Cost is important, but it is not the only factor to consider. A development studio is a more reliable and equal partner, building relationships on the basis of an official agreement. It has a base, additional staff, and proven experience in the market.
Phone and email conversations are good, but real-life communication allows you to see more nuances. You can meet with such a contractor and discuss your ideas, even if in the process of work, the project evolves beyond recognition.
One more thing. Ask for a trial period of two or three weeks. Assign a specific part of the project and see how well they do it. This will help you understand whether it is worth signing a contract.