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Picking the right web developer for your start-up

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 | By Amanda Watts

Unfortunately, there are a number of web companies out there looking to make a quick buck. To make matters worse those same companies spend a lot on SEO (search engine optimisation).


So be aware they are likely to appear in the first few pages of your Google search.


But don’t fret! A little planning goes a long way. The better you plan, the smoother the project.


As a start-up you are probably looking for a cost-effective solution for your web build. Be open, honest and clear about what you want.


Do your homework, research competitors’ sites and what you love/hate about them. List things you would 'like your site to have' as well as 'has to have'. Give the list a hierarchy so they know what could be built in at a later date.


Web companies should have a questionnaire to help you kick-start the planning process. Are there any parameters they need to know about such as established databases, email marketing tools or social media integration?


Once you have chosen a company and before any design begins they should produce a technical specification document.


This document is like an architect’s blueprint and outlines the main pages plus any technical functionality.




Once both parties are happy with the plan, the design can begin. If you don’t understand bits of the document, now is the time to say.


Changes to important components once it has gone into production can get expensive.


What to look for in a web company


Look for smaller or local companies that deal with similar businesses industries or sizes to you.


Their portfolio doesn't need to be huge or only feature large brands. They should give the same care and attention to all clients big and small. Ideally look for case studies or white papers that show recent projects in more detail. They should have a blog that talks about projects, staff and clients in a respectful way.


Ask about their terms and conditions: what happens after the project is complete, what ongoing costs are involved in maintaining the website, or what happens if you part ways midway through the project?


Be honest


How much do you have to spend? If it is a small amount, be upfront about your budget as they may be able to suggest resources or things you can do to streamline the process.


Leave your ego at the door. It is your developer’s job to know more about the web than you. There are some amazing new platforms and technologies they can employ to create your new site.


Trust your gut


If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. As an entrepreneur you are continually making gut decisions.


If you don’t get a good feeling about working with them or they are being evasive about costs from the start – then keep looking. Better yet, ask around on your social media networks for recommendations.