Need a new website? Looking for a web developer? Well, then you’ll be glad you stopped by today.

Hiring someone to build a website for you is much like hiring someone to build an addition on your house. You probably have some idea of what you want, but you’re not a carpenter. How do you know you’re getting the best person for the job? We’re here to give you some guidance on how to find the right web developer for your website.

Before you even get to the question-asking, you should start with a little recon. Go and look at a bunch of websites for businesses that are similar to yours. They don’t necessarily have to be your competitors. You really want to look at sites for companies that are the same size as yours and whose calls to action are similar to the ones you think you want. This will give you a baseline for what’s possible and what people looking for businesses like yours are accustomed to seeing. It will also give you a framework for deciding if a developer’s style matches the style you want.

Once you are ready to begin the hunt, here are the most important questions for you to ask of any potential web developer.

Can I see your portfolio / testimonials?

Usually, a web developer will have their portfolio on their website. If it is, don’t just casually gloss over it. Look at their clients. Go to their sites. Get a feel for what the developer’s go-to style is. Does it match yours?

If there isn’t a portfolio on their site (because sometimes the cobbler’s children have no shoes), definitely ask to see samples of their work. You want to be sure your styles are complementary. If you don’t love the work they’ve already done, you probably want to look elsewhere. Reviews and testimonials are also usually available on their website or on a review site like Yelp. If you can’t find any, ask.

What is your process?

You may not understand all the language web developers use, but that’s not really what’s important here. The most important thing is that they can easily articulate their process. Experienced web developers can do this because they’ve gone through the process so many times that it’s second nature to them. If someone can’t explain their process, you probably want to move on to the next prospect.

What is included in the price?

Things that may or may not be included in the total cost of your website:

  • Set number of pages
  • Domain registration
  • Hosting
  • Post-launch ongoing maintenance
  • A certain number of rounds of revisions
  • Training how to add and update content
  • Custom domain email addresses
  • SSL certificate (a must!)

A couple things to be aware of here. First, you want to know exactly what’s included so you can budget accordingly. Additionally, with things like training and revisions, you want to take into consideration *your* process. If you know your process involves several rounds of revisions, don’t choose someone who only includes two rounds in the price. You’ll both end up frustrated and the final product will probably not be what you really want.

How will the site be optimized?

All sites built should use search engine optimization best practices. Additionally, the site should be optimized for mobile (mobile-friendly) and for fast loading pages. A developer should be able to offer specific strategies on how they’ll ensure that your site will rank well on search sites.

How will the website project be managed?

You should find out how often you’ll get a progress report and who will provide it. You want to know if you’ll be talking directly to the developer or a project manager. Either is ok.

What involvement is expected of me?

This is important. You want to find out up front what the developer needs from you to get the job done on time and within budget. How much and what types of content will you need to provide? What file types are required for images? This is also the time to discuss latitude the developer has in decision making. Do you want everything run by you first or do you want them to have some autonomy? If you can’t get on the same page about that, you might want to look elsewhere.

What happens if my site breaks or is hacked?

This is when you talk about site security. Find out what technology is being used to prevent hacks. Choice of hosting plays a big part here (we always recommend WPEngine). Also, find out how often incremental and full backups will be done (if the developer will be providing hosting). Be sure you know in advance what the developer will charge to get your site up and running again.

Have you seen any good movies lately? 

Srsly. This is a big deal. Some clients call this the “compatibility interview.”

This is a person or agency you may end up having several longish conversations with over the next 60-180 days. Take time to get to know each other. If you find it difficult to have a conversation, that could be a red flag that it’s not a good fit.

Need more advice? Type your question into the chat box on this page and we’ll get right back to you. If you aren’t already receiving our emails, you missed the other half of this topic — what questions we’ll ask you during this process. Type your email into the chat box if you want to get our informative but not overly wordy or too frequent emails.