10 Questions to ask your web developer

Finding a good web developer is like finding a good mechanic. Here’s 10 questions to ask your web developer to make sure you’re getting Ken Miles and not Kevin from Corrie.

10 questions to ask your web developer

Nowadays its relatively simple to create a website. With online tools like Squarespace, Wix and Boxmode, you’re able to build a reasonable site using a drag and drop interface, and it’ll work OK.

That’s fine and dandy, if all you want something that’s just, well, okay.

If you want something with a little more je nais se quois, then you’ll probably want the help of a website developer who knows how to use software properly.

Finding a good web developer is like finding a good mechanic. They know what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly, they’ll be able to tell you why. How many times do you ask around for a mechanic before choosing one, is your choice based solely on price? Probably not many.

If you’re putting your trust in a web developer to create your online presence, you want to sure you’re getting Ken Miles (the Ford Shelby guy) and not Kevin from Corrie (sitcom bloke).

Here’s 10 questions to ask your web developer before engaging them on your project.

Tip: Always a good idea to only engage with a developer after you’ve checked out their portfolio and if possible, got a recommendation from one of their previous clients.

1. Who’ll be working on my website?

It’s important to know the skills and experience of the people who will working on your website. If it’s an individual, ask how many clients they have. Get confidence that they’ll be able to provide the services you want, support when you need it, and that you won’t be at the bottom of a long list of people waiting for stuff when you need something done.

I keep a limited client base. That means I’m able to provide the quality of service I’d want to receive myself.

2. Do you charge per page?

If a web developer prices per page then they’re focussing on the wrong thing. This is bad practice.

When you create a website, you need to organise information logically so it makes sense not only to humans, but also to Search Engines. (This is called information architecture). Google crawls your web pages to understand the content, and index it appropriately.

Paying per page forces the developer to focus on their effort, not the outcome you want. That’s wrong. What you need is an effective presentation of your product or service, using the most effective means of communication, that makes sense to the most amount of people; irrespective of how many pages it takes.

Paying per page implies a monkey see, monkey do approach to web development.

I charge per project, regardless of how many pages you need. Plus I use WordPress, so you can pages when you need them.

3. What software will you use to build my website?

Ideally your web developer should be using well known, open software like WordPress, Craft or Drupal, software that allows you to edit website content. If you don’t need to edit your content, then HTML will do. Look for someone who knows what they’re doing with the toolset they use i.e., when to use WordPress, when to use HTML.

If your developer is using a drag and drop application like like Squarespace, Wix and Boxmode, find out what value are they adding. These are simple tools that you can use yourself.

I’ve used WordPress for all my websites since the mid 2000’s. I have a coding background and can support you with a sitebuilder if that’s all you need.

4. Do you optimise websites for mobile and SEO?

Good SEO is critical and should be included from the outset, not as an afterthought. Good questions are:

  • What page speed do you aim for? (around 2 secs)
  • How will you test it?
  • What could you do to improve it?
  • Are your websites mobile friendly?

With nearly 60% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, and considering Google’s mobile-google mobile first indexing, having a mobile responsive website is paramount.

I build websites to be fast with SEO baked in. I compress images, apply caching and use some of the world’s most advanced infrastructure to host your site.

5. Who will own my website?

You pay for it so it would be yours, right? Your developer should be able to tell you that you own the design, HTML, style sheets and source code and the content if you have supplied it yourself. Also, can you migrate it to another hosting provider if you needed to?

With me you own the lot. I’ll even help you move it if you really want to. (I’ve never had to do that yet). It’s usually a good idea for you to own your domain name, I can help with that if you don’t have one.

6. Who will write the content?

Content is really, really important. Typically you will supply content for your website but if your developer has access to a copywriter, even better.

Just reading through your web developers website should tell you what you need to know.

Copywriters can improve the quality of your content and optimise it for your intended audience (and Google). If they’re any good they’ll know the best sources of free, high quality stock photos to complement your content (like unsplash and pexels).

I use professional writing tools to get your content just right for your intended audience.

7. Will I be able to change things on my website after its launch?

You should be able to edit content to add news, blogs, information and images. Different developers will use different content management systems but the most popular, by far, is WordPress.

It should be relatively straightforward for you to edit your site to add contact numbers etc, although you may need the support of your developer for more advanced features.

I use WordPress, software that powers more than 30% of the web.

8. Do you offer ongoing maintenance once the site has been launched?

This is an important question to ask because if your developer just leaves you to it after the launch, if anything goes wrong, how will you sort the problem? It could end up costing you time and money.

I offer monthly care plan to cover updates, upgrades and backups. It’ll save you time and money in the long run.

9. How can I measure how well my website is performing?

You want to know the website is doing its stuff, right? Your developer should at the very least install Google Analytics to track visitors and understand your most effective marketing channels.

All of my websites come with Google sitekit installed. You can see visitors and performance information on a simple to use dashboard.

10. How many design revisions do you allow for?

Typically, it’s during the revision and approval process when miscommunication can occur. As a client, you want to love your end product, and your web designer should be able to give that to you. It’s important to know how many changes you can make during the approval process, and if there will be any additional cost for further revisions.

I work on the assumption that after the initial build, we’ll have two further iterations. (But if there’s minor stuff that’s no problem).

11. Who can I ask for a reference?

Ideally, your web developer should point you towards their portfolio and suggest you can contact any client for a reference. If they propose specific ones, ask if they’d be OK with you picking one.

You can contact any one of my clients for a reference.

Hang on, that was more than ten?

Yup, now do some fact-checking of your own. Check their portfolio. Do the websites have a modern look and feel? Are the websites responsive and mobile friendly? Are their page speeds efficient? Do they optimise alt tags, title tags and descriptions? 

On top of that, was the developer listening to you, did they get what you’re trying to do? Did they explain technical concepts in a way you understand, or were they playing buzzword bingo?

If they’re using phrases like “user experience” ask them to explain personas. If they’re talking about “responsive design” ask them why it’s important. If they smart enough, they’ll explain what they mean in terms you’ll understand.

Generally, listen to your inner voice.

Did you feel they were just trying to sell you something? Ask yourself, would you trust them to fix your car?

Not sure?

If you want a no obligation chat then give me a shout. I’m always happy to share my experience and provide an informed opinion if that’s what you need. I won’t try and sell you something you don’t need.