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How to Choose a Web Developer [Checklist]

September 13, 2023

by Elaine Margrethe Alcantara

Nowadays, websites are essential to helping businesses and brands showcase more of themselves to their target audience. A fully functioning site can educate audiences, supplement functions like sales, and give businesses the competitive edge they need. The web development industry is vast, and choosing the right partner to go with is a tough decision. Keep reading this piece to know more about what variables to consider so you can have more confidence in your choice.

Online presence is a big deal in the current digital world, and every business needs a good website. Today, audiences immediately look for credible brands when looking for new products or services, and websites have the power to improve their standing.

The impact of websites cannot be underestimated. In fact, 88% of online consumers say that they are less likely to return to a website if they had a bad experience with its usability, responsiveness, and features. Additionally, 75% of customers agree that a company’s website credibility plays an integral role in their purchase decision.

A web development company is a third-party vendor that has all the necessary skills and expertise to create sophisticated websites. These firms are composed of programmers, user experience experts, and sometimes even digital marketing professionals. They often offer front-end, back-end, and full-stack development for businesses in need.

There are free website builders that provide generic templates and tutorials all across the web but hiring a dedicated web developer brings a plethora of benefits. For instance, an experienced developer can create a unique website that represents your brand, help you save precious time, and incorporate custom features using the latest technologies.

Finding, vetting, and selecting the right web development partner can be intimidating, especially considering the sheer number of options out there. In this ultimate guide, we’ll go into detail to guide you through the stages and help you understand the variables you need to consider when hiring the ideal service provider for your project.

1. Understand Your Objectives 

Goal setting is an essential part of starting and ensuring the success of your project. In business, every decision has benefits when done correctly but also has repercussions if mishandled. Having clear objectives allows business owners to set their priorities, understand what they need, and then create a plan from there on.

Once you’ve identified that you need to hire a web development partner, you need to know what your goals are for that website. Ask yourself critical questions such as:

  • Will it only showcase your brands or will it serve as your e-commerce space too?
  • Do you need a mobile app along with it or just adopt a mobile view?
  • Do you need a partner that also provides other services like software development or digital marketing?
  • How big will your website be and what functionalities will it need?

If you answer all these questions and set your objectives straight, you can proceed to the next steps with more ease. Use the goals as your guide so you don’t get sidetracked when you select your partner.

2. Set a Budget

Budget is always a major talking point and concern when it comes to starting projects, especially for startups and small businesses with limited resources.

After you’ve confidently determined your goal, the next step is to prepare a budget accordingly. During this second stage, research is imperative to create a realistic and practical budget.

You can also opt to consult your leadership team or stakeholders who have prior experience hiring a web development company. Getting insights can help you avoid unnecessary costs and allow you to allocate your budget more wisely.

The cost of hiring a web developer varies depending on factors like expertise, team size, and location. On the other hand, the cost of projects also varies depending on their complexity, scale, and time frame.

Simpler and smaller-scale projects won’t cost you a pretty penny. However, if you need extra services like search engine optimization (SEO) or user experience (UX) research, the price tag for your project will naturally go higher.

When doing research, consider factors such as monthly costs, type of website, and features. The information you’ve gathered will help determine the range you should expect to pay for their services.

Read more here: “How to Create a Budget For A New Website [With Template]

3. Research Potential Developers

After completing the first two steps, you can finally research the market for potential service providers.

If you opt to just jump to this stage without doing the first two, you’ll most likely end up feeling intimidated by the choices in the market. The objectives and budget you’ve set will help you filter the options quickly.

To simplify the search, you can create a set of criteria for your requirements. When searching online through various directories and rankings, consider these factors:

  • What services do they offer? (e.g. web hosting, wireframing, and UX design)
  • What technologies do they specialize in? (e.g. React, CSS, and JavaScript)
  • Does their rate fit your budget? How much is their monthly fee?
  • Will their team size meet the scale of your project?

Clutch allows you to filter the firms quickly, saving you time and sparing you from the headache of manually going through each service provider. Adjust the filters to see all the developers that meet your requirements.

4. Shortlist the Ideal Partners

Interviewing every firm that meets your needs will be impossible, so shortlisting the top candidates is a must before you proceed. For this stage, it’s important that you don’t rush your decision and take your time assessing each firm.

The best way to see the quality and commitment of a developer is through their client review. On Clutch, you can access different company profiles, project case studies, and client testimonials that can give you deeper insights into their work. The reviews on the platform touch on crucial areas such as the project's impact, project scope, and what issues they faced with the service provider.

Reading client reviews will help you avoid developers who fail to deliver on their promises and have issues with project management.

You can also visit the websites they’ve developed to see their responsiveness, page load time, and plugins.

Ideally, your shortlist should only have around four to five service providers to make things less complicated. After you’ve selected the top prospects, you can start reaching out for the next step.

5. Conduct Interviews 

Contact the web developers you’ve included in your shortlist to ask for an interview and a Request For Proposal (RFP), a document that explains the project and solicits a bid.

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to prepare questions and read more about web development services before you interview potential service providers. The knowledge you gain from catching up on the basics and trends will help you understand their services.

Moreover, the interview process is your chance to gather everything you need to know and their chance to win you over. The questions you ask will be important to helping you make the final choice.

When you finally prepare, you should consider asking questions like these:

  • What platform or content management system would you suggest my site be built on?
  • How do you ensure my site fits my marketing strategy and is SEO-friendly?
  • How long is your average web development process?
  • Can you walk me step-by-step through your research and web design process?
  • Do you offer revisions and how many rounds?
  • How do you check for ADA accessibility compliance?
  • What training/support do you provide when my site launches?

Give them the chance to answer every question you have in mind and clarify some concerns you have. Ultimately, if you don’t feel confident with them after the interview, they may not be the right fit for your project.

Read this as you get ready: “B2B Partnerships: Questions to Ask Potential Business Partners

6. Narrow Down the Choices

Selecting the right web developer for your business is a small feat. Use all the information you’ve gathered during your research and interviews to trim the options down to two or three service providers.

Look back to the first two stages in this piece; do they meet your priorities and do they fit your budget? Not every vendor you interview will meet your expectations and requirements. Sometimes, what they offer may seem like the best for others but not for your business.

Every developer has their own strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to stick to your priorities and consider all the factors before officially hiring them.

7. Sign with the Right Web Developer 

While finding may seem easier said than done, staying aligned with your priorities will make the process less stressful and intimidating. Always remember your goals, needs, and budget when coming up with your final decision.

For the last and final stage, reach out once again to the developer you chose, let them know about your verdict, and request a service level agreement (SLA), a contract that outlines the relationship between your company and the web development team.

Before you put your signature on that contract, don’t forget to review and negotiate if needed. Check for the clear language, well-defined expected milestones, and payment terms. You don’t want to end up with unfair risks if the project doesn’t go the way you anticipated.

How to Choose a Web Developer

Need a shortlist for your search? Use our template when going through the searching, vetting, and onboarding processes.

web development firm checklist

Download this checklist before hiring a partner for your web development project.

Built a Great Website with the Right Partner

Businesses won’t survive or stay competitive in the digital age if they don’t have a credible website. Nowadays, sites serve as marketing tools, online catalogs, and even sales funnels. Don’t underestimate the benefits it can bring to your business.

So many components are needed to create a great website; solid wireframes, a memorable domain name, and a brilliant web development partner. It’s important to find the perfect partner that vibes with your company’s culture, understands your needs, and has your best interests in mind.

Don’t look elsewhere because Clutch has already compiled the leading web developers. Start exploring these firms and assessing their compatibility with your business needs.

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