Questions to Ask When Vetting a Web Developer

Written by Hailey Huffman

Director of Sales and Marketing @ Syzmic

August 11, 2020

If you’ve been in this industry long enough, you’ve probably heard a collection of stories about a bad experience on a website build. Chances are it goes something like this, “We agreed on these terms, I paid X amount of money upfront, and was told several months later the project couldn’t be completed.” Unfortunately, bad experiences are too common in the development business.

Sometimes, it’s not necessarily about a bad experience. The development industry is extremely technical and very niche. The average business owner doesn’t know where to begin when properly vetting out a potential developer and that’s the most important step in the development process. 

Below we’ve created a master list of questions to consider when vetting out your developer along with an explanation as to why these questions are important. 

Vetting Questions: 

Project-based quote or hourly?

It is extremely important to know how your quote is created and why. I’ll give you this analogy. You need a home built so you find a construction company and they say they’ll build your home for $150,000 and it will be completed in one year. Excellent right! You know what it will cost and you have a timeline. 

Imagine if the construction company said we’re charging you hourly on the construction and it could take 1-2 years and if we run into any issues along the way it’s going to cost more. Here’s a range of potential costs so plan accordingly.  Which scenario would you prefer? 

It’s the exact same when it comes to a website build. Don’t get us wrong, there are benefits to hourly work but when starting at ground zero it’s best to get a project-based quote. Check out this blog to see the benefits and dilemmas with hourly quotes and find a vendor that works best for your project.

Do you collect the money upfront? 

This question is essential and it’s followed by several other questions including why, how, and when. Obtaining a deposit or half upfront is the industry standard. This is beneficial for your business and the developer but further questioning is necessary when negotiating an agreement. 

What CMS platform will you use and why? 

Time for the technical questions! A CMS platform is a content management system in which a website is built. These include platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, etc. 

You don’t have to know the technical details! Simply ask your potential developer which system they prefer to use and why. Let them explain their trade and why they think a particular CMS platform is best suited for your project. 

Will you use a theme? 

Let me preface this question by saying this, don’t let the word “theme” make you think of a cookie-cutter version that is just changing the layout. Themes in website builds are extremely customizable and diverse. Asking this gives the developer an opportunity to explain their process and understand why they’re a good fit for your project.

Do you have a portfolio? 

Experience is the best teacher. When vetting out a developer its important to see previous work and understand their capabilities. Viewing a portfolio will also help you get ideas for your project and see the functionality or any special features you’ll need. 

What is our timeline? 

This is one of the most important questions to ask. The timeline doesn’t have to be precise but an estimated date allows the business owner to prepare a launch day promotion and plan accordingly. The average project will take 2-3 months depending on revision rounds and responsiveness on both parties. If you’re working on a short timeline, communicate that to your development team and come up with an execution plan. 

How many revision rounds will you allow?

Every website typically goes through 2-3 rounds of revision before it’s launched. This allows you to proof the work and ensure the design and functionality meets your standards. We encourage all of our customers to be extremely thorough during this process and test everything. We say, “try your best to break it” in order to prevent any unexpected bugs or technical issues. Be aware that your responsiveness and how many changes you choose to make can affect the timeline.

What are the expectations of me, the business owner? 

The ultimate goal of the vetting process is to set clear expectations, processes, and goals for the project. The developer will always need information, graphics, URL information, and login credentials to start a project. Along the way, the developer will need your honest feedback and critiques to ensure the site will meet your standards.

At Syzmic, we encourage all of our customers to keep communication channels open and ask questions throughout the development process. We go above and beyond to ensure our customers are happy, and we strive every day to help those who have had bad experiences in the past.

Your website is an investment in your business and your brand. We understand that you want the project done correctly, the first time. Call us today to start the vetting process and see what Syzmic can do for you.

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