Nick Crocker

Nick Crocker

Friday, 19 October 2012 00:00

How to Handle a Web Developer as a Start-up

Have you got any tips on how to deal with web developers?

This article first appeared on May 18th, 2011.


Have you got any tips on how to deal with web developers?


I come from a very different background (finance) and I don’t seem to be able to talk their language.


I’m concerned that this will hold up our website build.



The unspoken truth of web development is that without exception it will take longer and cost more to get the job done than what you will be quoted.


In the process of the development process, you as the client will evolve your thinking as to what you need/want and this will always extend the scope of the job.


Make sure you agree up front on a process for “changing scope”, and always factor in 20% cost and time over-runs for whatever you are being quoted.


Dealing with web developers is an art, not a science and the make-up of the development team is crucial.


Are they designers as well? Are they wedded to a particular style of development? Is there a project manager or are you dealing directly with the developers themselves?


That said, there are some basics that will help you minimise negative issues:

  1. Be clear about your business objectives and develop for those, rather than for something subjective like style or aesthetics.
  1. Try and work with data and not personal taste.
  1. Give feedback from the context of the business objective, not your own opinions: "How does this site/design help us achieve our business goals"?
  1. Agree up front on how you deal with expansions to budgets/plans/timeframes.
  1. Don't let things linger. The sooner you communicate with your web developer, the less likely you'll be to get sideswiped by a disagreement.
  1. Always ask the stupid questions if you don't understand something. Keep asking questions until it's clear in your mind. Don't feel like you need to pretend you understand the language of web developers if you don't.
  1. Remember, web-developers don't like doing bad work. You both want an awesome result and you should operate on that basis.

Nick Crocker is an Australian entrepreneur based in New York. He is currently working with Boxee, a New York internet TV start-up. Prior to Boxee, Nick founded Native Digital, the agency behind popular music website In 2009, Nick was recognised as one of Australia’s Top 30 entrepreneurs under 30 by Smart Company. 

Ask Nick or any other StartupSmart Mentor a question here.

Comments (2)

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Fantastic tips Chris.

A few more are;

1. Use a web designer with a marketing background, they will design for your target audience, and you will have a better website at the end of the day.

2. Ask for a website architecture document to be drawn up on the first quote and from there look to see if your missing any key elements or if you can see any future upgrades or add ons. This will help you see on paper what's been quoted and what you may also be missing.

3. Before you the website is designed, ask for a simple wireframe of a general look and feel in a layout perspective. This will also help you see where things go and how it will all look, before the designer spends time on the actual look and feel of the colours graphics etc...

4. Think long term. Your website is important and you do not want to go back and start again. Ask what elements are upgradeable, or expandable. Can you add pages and where will they go. If your website is designed and build to only have 5 top menus, then you find in a year you need 2 more, where do you think they would go?

5. Ask for the extras price list.. This will cover things like, web forms, new pages, adding items to your shopping cart, removing images from a gallery, etc etc.

6. Set a monthly budget for website maintenance. Just like a house, things need to change, add or be removed. So set a fair amount of say $100-$200 a month away for this. All work takes time, and asking your developer for a few changes a month will still cost them at least 1-2hours in time.

Hope this helps. :-)

Find me on Twitter and linked in to stay connected Bianca Sengos

bsengos , May 19, 2011
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Oops, I said Chris not Nick.. I'm sorry :-) your article is spot on, and I have printed it to give to our customers to add to our list of "How to get along with your web designer/developer"
bsengos , May 19, 2011
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