Your website is a critical component to your digital marketing strategy and choosing a web design company can be difficult. The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Web Developer is an easy to read and informative guide to help you choose the best web developer for your business. You’ll learn everything you need to know to ensure your next website appears in the top search engines, is optimized for SEO and is mobile friendly. Includes a series of easy to follow checklists, making it easier to select the right web developer.
In this free guide, you’ll learn…
Why choosing the right web developer is critical to business growth
The top considerations for choosing a web developer
The difference between a web designer and web developer
The importance of SEO optimization and being mobile website friendly
Welcome! The success of your business can depend greatly on your online visibility. The first step towards making your business noticed in the online world is to create its digital footprint, starting with your official website. The choice of your website developer is crucial to creating the perfect website that not only pleases the eyes of the visitors but also ranks high on search engines.
As you read on, you will learn how to pick the right website developer for you.
Click the links to go directly to a specific step.
Web Developer vs. Web Designer
While you will see the internet world using these two terms interchangeably, there are subtle, yet important, differences between a web designer and web developer. A web developer plays the central role in the functionality of the website, often referred to as the back-end. In addition to functionality, web developers usually take care of the aesthetics of a website also, sometimes referred to as the front-end. A web designer however, only focuses on the front-end (the aesthetics). Why is it so important to know the difference? Because this guide will help you choose a web developer, for your end to end, front-end and back-end needs. Here is more on how to define them:
- Works more on the front end of the website
- Is adept at graphic designing and color schemes
- Uses the right (imaginative, creative and intuitive) side of the brain more
- Works on the back end and front end (and therefore has a web designer on staff)
- Is generally an expert in .Net, PHP, Ruby, Python, etc.
- Works on creating the UI
- Considers search engine optimization (SEO) during implementation
- Uses the left (linear, logical and technical) side of the brain more
- Experience of coding plays a major role
Why is it important to pick the right mechanic for your car? Why is it essential to choose the right builder for your house or the correct doctor for what ails you? In a nutshell, a wrong choice in this respect can be damaging to your goals.
When builders build your house poorly, you will see signs of defective construction as soon as you settle in. Similarly, your business could suffer from a poor image that your subpar website puts in front of your customers. Let’s imagine that a non-professional web developer has built your website poorly. Here are some of the issues you can expect to happen and have probably experienced yourself while surfing the web:
- Visitors will land at a blank white page that doesn’t open.
- Mobile users will wonder why they can’t see anything but your logo (without realizing that your website is not compatible with their mobile devices).
- Visitors raise their eyebrows at the low-quality aesthetics.
- Visitors can’t find the information they expect to easily find.
- Your website does not appear in search results because Google has detected a lack of SEO best practices on it.
- You look at your website’s lost traffic and realize the first visitor of the day is you.
But, have no fear! By reading this guide and using the checklists included, you will be able to choose the best web developer for you and will be on your way to achieving the goals associated with your online presence.
Top Considerations for Choosing the Right Web Developer
Here are some tips that would help you avoid the situations stated above.
Know Your Website Requirements
Whether you are shopping for a website developer or a new pair of shoes, you must know your requirements to pick the right product. Here is a checklist to consider.
- The type of website you want, e.g., e-commerce, brochure, blog, forum, etc.
- The best platform for the type of website you want, e.g., WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, Magento, etc.
- The theme of the website (it will mostly follow your branding color scheme)
- The type of content you want, e.g., background information, reviews, images, GIFs, videos, infographics, etc.
- The point of focus, i.e., product images, in-depth technical information, discount deals, testimonials, etc.
Speaking with a web developer to learn more about each of these can help kickstart your requirements process.
Take a Close Look at Their Portfolio
You will often hear people suggest looking at the portfolio of the service provider you are considering, no matter if it is a web developer, web designer, photographer or some other professional. The more important part here is to know what to look for. Not all web developers have their portfolios on a website. In that case, you need to ask them to provide you one. Here is what you should look for:
- The number of websites they have successfully launched, particularly in your industry.
- The aesthetics and overall UI of those websites. (Visit the websites personally.)
- The location of the clients, i.e., if they are all local, then the company may be best suited for local services.
- The types of websites, i.e., you want to know that they are good at designing the websites of businesses in your industry.
- Responsiveness of design, so you can tell their expertise with mobile optimized web designs.
- Results and metrics they have delivered for their clients.
If they are so new that they don’t have a portfolio, you should ask them to do a small sample for you.
They Must Understand the Importance of Mobile
Learning while on the job is critical for any web professional. Web landscapes are changing on a daily basis. They continue to launch new languages, new patches for existing platforms, and new technologies to simplify web development.
Most of these new advancements make web development easier, faster and more efficient. It is truly unfortunate that some web developers have still not embraced the idea of building mobile optimized site designs. Make sure your website developers are fully skilled at creating mobile-optimized designs because…
- Websites that are not mobile-optimized don’t appear favorably in Google results when searched on mobile devices.
- Google automatically ranks websites without mobile optimization lower because it considers them to be less user-friendly.
- 57% of the users won’t recommend a website without mobile optimization. (Source: socpub.com)
It is crucial to ask any developer if they are better at dedicated mobile websites, responsive websites, or both.
SEO and Web Development Go Hand-in-Hand.
It is a thing of the past for website developers not to know anything about SEO. Today, it is critical for developers to pay attention to SEO right from the start to ensure a successful website. There is no excuse; SEO has to be part of any website development process.
Not optimizing your website for search engines right from the development phase is like making a car and saying that you will put it on the road and think about passengers’ safety and comfort later. SEO is critical but what constitutes an SEO-friendly website?
- It needs to have a light design to allow quick page loading speed.
- Your website host should also provide fast page loading speed and minimum downtimes.
- Your domain name should be relevant to your business and the content of your website.
- The URLs should have keywords in them but must also be relevant to the content of the page.
- Your website should be keyword optimized.
A temptation to avoid here is buying a domain that’s an exact keyword you want to target. Your website domain should be your business’ name. If you can fit in a keyword there, then do it, but do not force it in.
Know Their Exact Expertise
Since they are website developers, a lot of their work will inevitably involve design; in fact, developers work closely with designers. However, designers craft the look and feel of a web interface and construct the user experience of the interface, which is why developers work with them to ensure all aspects of the design are implemented in terms of functionality. Oftentimes, you’ll see developers who are practically designers on their own merit and these are just the kind of developers you want on your team. Where might their expertise lay?
- Some developers are great at creating websites from scratch whereas others excel as WordPress experts.
- Some website developers are better at creating blogs whereas some will show their real talent when it comes to e-commerce website development.
- Some will have excellent skills for creating corporate websites but lack the skills to design a website for a studio that makes cartoons or games.
So, how do you know what a web developer’s expertise is?
- Ask them questions to determine what type of CMS they are most familiar with.
- Make sure they have knowledge about website development and SEO.
- Look at their portfolio to see if they can create mega-websites, i.e., websites that contain 30 or more pages.
- Make sure their design sense matches your requirements, i.e., if you want a one-page website, they should not criticize you for it. Instead, they should tell you how they can make it look great.
- Gauge their expertise in different web development languages and have them provide a recommendation for which suits your needs.
The cost you have to pay to the web developer depends on a lot of factors. Here are the most important factors that will influence your cost.
- The number of pages that you require
- The complexity of the website e.g. world class, high-end, simple yet attractive, etc
- Responsiveness or mobile dedicated website
- E-commerce functionality
- Copywriting of the web pages
- Integration of the database
Another factor that hugely impacts the price of website development is the experience and reputation of the web development company.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are looking for the right website developer is not using cost as the deciding point in choosing your developer. Some people can develop your website for unbelievably low costs. However, in this particular case, you will get what you pay for. It is for you to decide between a winning website or a failure. Believe it or not, a bad website might not make you famous as a brand but it can land you on the list of worst website designs.
You can never tell how much a website will cost unless you decide to make one or give the task to a web development firm. However, a general breakdown should look something like the following: