It’s always good to get a quote from more than one web developer . Have a list of common questions to ask in your interview. Here are a few really good ones.
- Ask to examine their business contract so you can review it. ALWAYS HAVE A WRITTEN AGRREEMENT.
- Ask them how their creative process operates. Are they going to provide you one or more layouts to choose from? How do they want changes? How many CHANGES do they allow? Ask them if they have in house graphic design people.
- Ask the reliability rate of their server. A server is a computer that stores your web site to view on the Internet. Your web site does not float in cyber-space, it has to be on a server in order to communicate to the Internet. Their reliability rating should be at 99%. Oh, don’t forget to ask them where that server is located. I generally run from anyone who has their own server in their building. The normal server is located in a major city like Chicago, Dallas, or some place like that. The servers sit in buildings and rooms of nothing but host servers. I’ve always wanted to visit one just to say “Wow, very cool.”
- Always ask for samples of their work and references. Call the references to get feedback.
They should ask you…
1. What your long range plans are for your web site.
2. What kind of bells and whistles you want to add to your web site someday.
3. How they can increase your revenue by adding features to your website. A web developer should be able to make you money, save you money or both.
The low baller will try to win the bidding contest strictly on price. Sometimes this can be deceiving. You feel like you’ve won a great deal only to find out they want this much more to continue the work, or to finish what you asked them to do. You can’t always trust the lowest price. It’s not always a good deal.
The Big Bidder is running the opposite direction from the low baller, the big bidder tries to impress you with his portfolio of awesome graphic design or the cool animated flash web site. You don’t necessarily get more for your money when you go that route. It’s no secret in the web world that flash sites cannot be viewed by search engines. As pretty as they are, they lack that key feature. The point is throwing a lot of money at it won’t get you a great site. It’s a common knowledge in Grand Rapids Michigan where I am from that we often lose bidders to business in Chicago. It’s the same thng, customers think they will get something better if they go to a larger city. Sometimes you don’t get more, you just pay more.
Also, Great graphic design should not cost you thousands of dollars. Anyone who has ever sent something to a printer knows you can get good design for hundreds of dollars—not thousands. You’re better off hiring your own graphic designer, and paying your developer to do the programming only. This way you get the beauty of a gorgeous web site with awesome programming.
Beware of agencies. Agencies function on the 20% rule. They do the work for you and mark it up 20% and they KEEP that 20%. IF you need an agency to do that work, then fine, but understand you’re paying them that fee to do it for you. Do it yourself and save 20%.
Common Payment Terms are 50% down at signing and 50% down at closing. Another common payment term is 30/30/30. You will pay 30% down at signing, 30% down at midway point and 30% at closing. These are not the only payment terms available but these are very common in web development. The key is not to lay your money all down at the beginning. You need to hold the web developer responsible for completing the work.
When the web site is done, it is traditional to sign off on the site. This means that you accept that the basic site is completed to YOUR SATISFACTION and the work you agreed to do is now complete. The web developer has completed the terms of your agreement and you have accepted his work as good and final. That’s it for lesson 2.
Carol Charron is an independent web consultant who has been helping people successfully purchase web development for the past four years.