I write a lot of blog posts aimed at my peers. Either to help, express my views or to shamelessly promote Raygun to my network. I don’t write nearly enough for our customers. This is likely because I assume they’ll never read this anyway (prove me wrong, leave a comment!). So in this post, I’m going to offer some guidance on what you could, and should, look for when hiring a web designer or developer.
The unfortunate fact is that web development is often not seen as the respected role that it once was. Nowadays a website is a pretty basic commodity for any business, and as a result there are many web designers in the market, with vastly differing skill sets and levels of experience. As a client looking to hire, you probably find yourself quite overwhelmed. Let’s start with…
This is by far and away the most crucial key to success. Unless the developer can understand your business goals and convey their guidance back to you, not only will the relationship never really take off, but your website probably won’t end up delivering in the way you had hoped.
Understanding one another is absolutely key to a strong, ongoing relationship.
Building a good website is hard. There are many things to understand when setting out designing and building a website, and the designer needs to be multifaceted. Their ability to offer up creative suggestions to your business logic, the way in which they conduct their workflow, how they react when something unexpectedly breaks, and how they plan for the future of your business all play their part in the process.
Ask your designer/developer about things like website maintenance, backups and scalability, and ensure you feel confident in their ability before progressing.
Like many industries, the web industry hosts thousands of events, big and small, for even the most niche topics you can imagine. On top of this there are hundreds of thousands of magazines, books and websites talking about design trends and best practices written by those with a passion for the medium.
Ask your designer about their favourite design publications, or when they last attended an event. Find out how involved they are in their industry and how up to date their knowledge is. If they’re still recommending QR codes, it’s probably best to keep looking.
I touched on scalability and maintenance earlier, and this is something that I’ve personally seen overlooked time and time again. Web developers painting themselves into a corner by writing code which is rather finite and not created with growth in mind. It’s very easy to do this, of course, in the flurry of a large project with a tight deadline; the temptation to just make something work is a strong one. However it is the duty of the developer to ensure that what they are creating is easily carried forward, either by themselves or another team.
I’ve seen clients left stranded, locked into proprietary systems or had their businesses damaged by a poorly coded piece of software. When hiring, try to get a sense of how much your developer is invested in you.
Businesses sometimes do not operate with the transparency that I believe they should, and the web design industry is unfortunately no exception. In most cases, I suspect, the complexity of a project can manifest itself in confusion and a lack of communication, which can lead to a mistrust on both sides.
By operating transparently; by explaining processes, answering questions and agreeing milestones, the client/developer relationship can happen smoothly without any of the friction caused by a lack of transparent dialogue.
I’d love to hear your experiences, either working with a design agency or client, so please feel free share your stories in the comments.