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The Art of Choosing the Right Web Development Company

The last time you were out there to choose the right web development company, how was the experience like? It was not good, right? Believe it or not, choosing the right company is an art, one that you need to learn and possibly develop a knack for.  Who knows, with time, you may get good at it.

Let’s start with what’s the first thing you should look for. Any guesses? No? Okay, here’s a simple exercise for you to find the answer:

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Points to consider

  • If possible, visit a website that you have not seen before so that cookies don’t play a spoilsport.
  • Make sure you have a speedy internet connection; else, the exercise doesn’t make any sense.

All said and done, you must focus on a company that can keep the website load times to a minimum. If they develop a site that takes more than 8 seconds (5 seconds max, in case of a speedy connection) to load, well, no offence, but they haven’t heard of the 10-second rule, at least that’s how it looks. Ironically, they would get their money. It would be you who’d be at the receiving end, losing on many of the conversion opportunities.

Don’t pay the price (for what you didn’t do!)

The last thing you want is to see your website getting penalised. It hurts, right? And you, with no fault of yours, are left to wonder – what went wrong? Well, for some companies, web development is all about coding – they do it left, right and centre. Who gives two hoots about the web standards – at least, such companies don’t. Do they have anything to lose? You have the answer.

Don’t be a puppet (unless you enjoy being one!)

If it’s anyone who should be pulling the strings here, it’s you. Yes, a company would develop the site for you, but that’s just about it. It’s your website (you don’t have any doubts, do you?) and it goes without saying that the control should be in your hands.

Does it sound too good to be true? It is not, but then, the developers must use an open-source CMS (WordPress, Joomla etc.) for you to be at the helm of affairs.  Only then you can change the content, if the need be and for that matter, update the images as well. And yes, did you know, it is also possible for you to change the site headings? Well, now you do.

Don’t settle for less (or little!)

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You bet; if it wasn’t, anyone could easily update the content or images after getting to know a thing or two about CMS. Make sure the company you choose, offer proper training.

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Next, find out if they would be there for you, should you have any queries later on. Last but not least, you must not make do with a site that has errors and/or bugs. If at all the website is not error-free, make sure that the developers resolve the issues at the earliest. Don’t even think of paying extra for something that should have been done right the first time.  

Don’t feel left out (or be oblivious!)

Let’s play fastest finger first. Answer the following questions as soon as you can:

  • Whose website is to be developed?
  • Who is choosing the company?
  • Who should be involved in the development process?

Call yourself the guest of honour, if you may, but don’t forget, it’s all about you, your business, your website. Make sure the company keeps you in the loop throughout the development process because only you know what may work best for your business. If they don’t keep you involved, chances are they are going to take you for a ride.

Don’t put on airs (and graces!)

By now you’d be like “Oh, it’s my site and it’s all about me and my business.” Yes it is, but more than you, it’s about the potential customers who are going to visit your site. Like it or not, you have been dethroned. Step down and ask the company to develop a website that enhances user (read: customer) experience. Tell them you want the customers to stay on your website for as long as possible. In fact, given a chance, they should come back. Customers were, are and will be the king(s), always – for you. Make sure you and the company are on the same page.

Don’t get intimidated (or hesitate!)

We have all been bullied, at some point or the other. That big guy, who made us run around the school, snatched our lunch – just the mention of him was enough to send shivers down our spine. Companies are no different. They have experts – experts who probably know more (this is what they say even if they don’t know a thing about web development) than you do. Here’s how a typical conversation between you and these so-called experts would go:

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No further questions, right? Experts play with words; they do this all the time – scare you with their ‘techie talk’. It’s time things change; they should give you clear answers sans the unnecessary jargon. The process of development is not that easy, yes, but it can’t be explained in such a way that you at least develop a basic understanding, no! A company that can articulate and break down things into the layman’s language is the one you have been looking for all this while.

Do not fall for snobs (or think any less of you!)

“Our last project was worth $1mn.” “We have developed sites for ABC, XYZ…..” “Oh, that’s your budget? That’s like our consultation fee.”

Add a couple more from your own experience. After all, you may have approached several companies by now. Didn’t all (okay, most!) of them make more or less the same statements? Barring the second example, which looks more like a company telling about the clients served in the past, these take us to the obvious – most of the companies either actually do or wish to undertake big projects. What if your project isn’t that big? Don’t you have the right to get a site developed? Don’t look down upon yourself; rather, find developers that are equally comfortable with the idea of working on a relatively small project.

Do not get fooled (or carried away!)

If someone tells you that Eiffel Tower was named after them and you do believe them, the joke’s on you. Just so you know Gustave Eiffel died in 1923. Jokes apart, companies, not all of them though, often brag about themselves. See, they may have served many prestigious clients, but you can’t just take their word for it. You need proof and you should ask for it. Ask for customer testimonials, reviews, references and anything and everything minus the confidential information (If they do disclose that, run for your life. Who knows, they may give out your data as well!). 

More importantly, even when everything seems okay, do think twice. Clients do give you a better idea, but then there are other things as well, experience and company size included.

Do not ignore technology (or act like you’ve all the time in the world!)

Let’s say you sell antiques. Your website should have a classic and old feel to it, yes, but it’s okay if it’s developed using an obsolete technology, no. Keep up with the times; it’s 2013 – developers have the best technology at their disposal. Some of the companies are yet to give up on the age-old technology they have been using for years, but then, they are the ones that ask for more of your time and money. You may not be in a hurry or for that matter, might be a billionaire, but if something can be done in less time and for a fraction of the cost you’d otherwise bear, why not?

Do not donate (or be a philanthropist!)

Well, at least not when it comes to web development, rest, it’s your money. The company quote an amount and then then you decide if you can afford to pay that much. This is how it goes, right? Let’s say the total amount is $50,000. Would you make the payment right away? What if they don’t complete the work on time? Would you then ask for a refund? Play smart; never ever pay the entire amount in one go. Rather, ask for a milestone-based payment plan.

A Website Designer is a blog by Dan Norris a passionate small business Web design expert from the Gold Coast, Australia. Read this full post here The Art of Choosing the Right Web Development Company

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