How to Find a Good Web Developer

Why it’s hard to find available talent, and why where you’re looking is not working.

One of the most common conversations I have with prospective new clients is the struggle they’ve endured in finding a good web developer or agency, and all the horror stories of projects gone awry, con-artistry, and downright hostility they’ve experienced with other developers or agencies.

There are plenty of reasons projects go sideways, or partnerships involving creative, technical, and often opinion-based deliverables crumble, but one of the main reasons is a client’s inexperience and lack of knowledge in choosing the right developer or agency in the first place. To help all of you out there looking for help with your website or app development project, here are some basic things to consider during your hunt.

Finding the Right Developer Requires You to Look in the Right Place

Don’t be so quick to trust a referral
The first place many clients look for a developer is their own personal network, which can be a great place to start, but only if you’re able to reject family members, neighbors, best friend’s niece’s husbands, and all the other unqualified candidates that you may uncover through your equally inexperienced network. It’s easy to jump at the first referral you get, because we all love the quick easy solution, until it leaves you with a developer who is unprofessional, unequipped, and uninterested in establishing a long-term partnership with your company, and could disappear or screw you over on a whim with no repercussions because they have no business reputation to protect.

Referrals are great, but should be treated with the same scrutiny as any other business decision.

Check their work and read their reviews
Good web developers will have a strong Google search ranking for the services you’re in need of, and will have a portfolio full of previous projects to point to that will give you a clear picture of what you can expect in a finished project. If they have an online presence, they should also have online reviews through Google+ and Yelp which will also give you a good idea of what other clients have experienced when working with them.

Search for local web development agencies, visit their sites, and review their work before choosing a few to meet with and get proposals from them. Building a business website is a big project, often a big investment, and you should be willing to spend the time to find the right one for your business.

A Good Developer is More Interested in Your Goals than Your Budget
If the only determining factor in your search for a developer is getting the lowest bid, you can fully expect to get what you pay for.

Look for developers who offer digital marketing retainers, as they’re more invested in your long-term success, instead of viewing all clients as one-off projects they can abandon once the site goes live. Even if your budget does not allow for additional services beyond the launch, your developer should be eager to help you drive net new business with the hopes of earning more business from you in the future, and have a solid commitment to all their clients to do the same. This creates another level of accountability, and also shows the developer understands that the main purpose of a business website is to drive growth, and serve as an investment and not just a capital expenditure.

Know the True Cost of Good Development versus Bad Development

I will humbly confess that I long ago once developed business websites for the low, low cost of under $3,000, with all the same excitement and vigor that we now develop sites worth 10-15 times that. And sometimes the results reflected that price. Low-cost developers and agencies are not, for the most part, offering you a low price point because they love your brand or you personally. Every developer or agency prices themselves at the point they can get from their clients, and the price they view their services to be worth. If your budget allows for it, don’t hamper your project by choosing the most attractive price tag.

Choose the developer or agency that makes the best proposal to help your business, deliver a professional experience, and commit to your brand’s long-term success during such a critical moment in your marketing plan.

Back to the horror stories we hear every day, hiring the wrong developer or agency because you went basement bargain shopping often ends up costing you far more than the original project should have, and the damage to your brand can be significant. We currently have a client whose last developer built a half-baked ecommerce site, pushed back on necessary functionality because he wasn’t capable of delivering it, and then turned sour and held design files, user logins, and other essential data ransom once the client brought our agency in to redevelop the site.

Unfortunately, like any industry, web development has shady characters at almost every turn, and it’s often too late to avoid if you’re not doing your due diligence. Look for references, online reviews, and solid portfolios to weed out the losers, and don’t settle for the cheapest solution just to save a few bucks upfront.

You’ll likely regret it.

Finding the right developer or agency may seem like a daunting task, but the good thing is, you’re already made it to our blog.