A website is, without doubt, 100% a necessary first step in marketing your business today. Whether it’s a huge site with 200 pages, or a single page stating your opening hours and contact details, if you’re not on the web you may as well not exist.
There are plenty of build-your-own platforms available but if you want a great job you’ll need to hire a professional.
So how do I find a web developer?
- My number one piece of advice is: ask for recommendations. You can obviously find a thousand and one web developers by Googling but you’ll have little to no idea what their skills are and, importantly, what they’re like to work with. Ask business owning friends with great websites or get recommendations from your mastermind group
- Check out their portfolio – they’ll have had to follow their clients’ brief, of course, but the resulting sites should be visually appealing and easy to use
- Talk to them – once you’ve narrowed down a shortlist send them an email or give them a call. You’ll get a feel for who they are, how they work and if you’ll be a good fit
- Be realistic – the right web developer will be brilliant, but they can’t be all the things to all the people
What does a web developer do?
A professional web designer will build you a site that looks great and works well, is easy to navigate and does what you need it to do – whatever that may be.
What does a web developer NOT do?
A solo web developer – as opposed to a larger company who may have a team of specialists working in house or freelance – will not be able to meet all your needs for a brilliant website. While they should have a reasonable awareness of the various elements involved, they can’t be specialists in them all.
A great web developer is many things, but here’s what they’re not:Tweet
- a graphic designer – the skills involved in building a beautiful site and those required to create stunning visuals are not the same so while some web designers will also be graphic designers, don’t assume
- a photographer/photo editor/film director – if your site involves e-commerce you’ll need amazing photos, and even if it doesn’t, a well placed video can make all the difference to that bounce rate
- a branding specialist – even if they do have skills to design a logo, they won’t possess the experience or insight to refresh or create your brand, looking at your sector, markets and competitors
- a copywriter – you probably wouldn’t ask your web developer to write your blog posts but you shouldn’t expect them to create brilliant calls to action, contact forms, headings, alt text, meta descriptions or 404 pages that nail your brand tone of voice either
- a Search Engine Optimiser (SEO) – SEO is a constantly shifting skillset and while web developers should definitely know the basics, they can’t keep up with the finer points
Think of your web developer like you would your electrician – you wouldn’t ask her to do the plumbing in your new bathroom. She may have an idea how it all works but it’s not her area of expertise.
A great web developer will:
- Be upfront about what they can and can’t do – if they promise the moon on a stick, be wary
- Be happy for you to outsource some tasks to specialists – this is your site so while they can make recommendations they should be happy that the final decision is yours
- Work collaboratively with the other professionals you hire – the project will run 1000 times smoother and takes a lot of stress and work off your plate if your developer, designer, copywriter etc. talk directly with one another rather than through you
- Be open about who they work with – if they say they’ll source the graphic designer or SEO specialist they should be happy to direct you to those professionals’ portfolios so you can decide for yourself if they’re a good match for you
- Make all the difference to your business! Yes it’s possible to build your own website but for a truly slick site and great user experience it always pays to hire a professional.
If you’re ready for some copy, just…