What to Ask a Web Developer, BEFORE You Hire Them

Kitchen Table CEOs Blog - What to ask your Web Developer before you hire them - laptop on a desk with coffee and pencils - Lauren Mancke Unsplash

April 4, 2022

When you decide to invest in a website for your business, it’s a HUGE decision and the task can be quite intimidating:

  • so much money
  • out of your comfort zone
  • not your area of expertise
  • so much tech involved and terminology that doesn’t make sense
  • and most importantly, who the heck should you trust and hire to bring your business vision to life?

I’m here to help you with the big task of web development and share with you what to ask a web developer before you hire them. First lesson: you don’t want to hand over ANY money, deposits or sign any documents until you ask your web developer the questions listed below.

Notes: Just because ….

  • A friend’s friend recommends someone, doesn’t mean they are the best person to hire
  • You meet a person in a Facebook group and they say they develop websites, doesn’t mean they are qualified
  • A web developer works for a marketing company or charges an astronomical amount of money ALSO does not mean they are amazing at what they do or the right person for your job.

So, what to ask a web developer before you hire them so you know how to choose the right one? Here are some helpful questions, in no particular order.

Can I see a list of websites that you have designed and developed for past clients?

Any good web development team will be more than happy to provide you with a list of website addresses of past clients. I always provide potential clients with a thorough list of websites that I have been a part of or managed (copy, design or development).

May I have the names/contact information for 1-2 past clients as a reference?

Same as above. You will feel so much better if you have the opportunity to speak with a past, happy customer that has great things to say about the web developer you are about to hire.

Walk me through how SEO is incorporated into my website?

SEO is a HUGE part of web development and whoever you hire should know what they are doing in this area so that your website shows up to as many people as possible.

Who is writing the words/content for the website?

Website development and copywriting are two entirely different skill sets. You should be suspicious if your web developer suggests that they be the one to write the content for your site. Additionally, unless YOU are a content expert and know how to write websites, I suggest you hire a professional (like me!) who knows what they are doing. There’s no point to spend money on a new website and then the words are horrible or don’t do their job. (Click HERE to book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss your website’s words and content.)

Is the price of stock photography included in my website project fee?

Your website may be a combination of stock and real photography. If you will be using stock photography, get clarification on who pays for stock photography as the prices for these images range from $0 to hundreds of dollars. In the projects that I do, the majority of stock photography is included, with the exception of extremely pricey photos.

Is training included at the end of my project to show me how to make simple changes to my website or post a blog?

My web development team ensures that our clients get video training and instruction on:

  • how to navigate the back-end of their website
  • load a blog post (if applicable)
  • view their google analytics
  • log into the dashboard and what all of the different sections mean
  • put through/refund and order (if an e-commerce site)

You want to make sure your web developer is not going to ditch once your site is live and not teach you anything and then charge you every time you have a single question or want to do something yourself.

What is the payment schedule?

Find out, upfront, when payment is due so there are no surprises. Do you have to pay an upfront fee to get the project going, or is everything due at the end when the site goes live? Firstly, make sure everyone is on the same page. Secondly, ensure details are outlined in an invoice or project outline. And thirdly, everyone involved should sign. My team and I typically ask for 50% of the overall project cost prior to commencement, and the final 50% after the site is live.

Can you explain to me the process from start to finish?

It’s important that you understand the upcoming steps and pieces to the project so that you can align your schedule and expectations. Usually, there are a series of meetings, presentations, approvals, etc. that you will need to be a part of. As the client, there will be certain things you are responsible for – reviews, approvals, selections, information – and if you are not ready to participate, the project can become heavily delayed.

When can I expect my website to be live and useable?

Your web developer should have an idea of the approximate turnaround time for your website. There are a lot of factors that go into site design and development so it’s okay if they do not have an exact date, but they should be able to provide a rough timeline.

For example: if a web developer expects your approval within 24 hours and you take 5 days to turn it around, the project could immediately become 5 days behind. All of the details and timing are not fully in the web developer’s control but if they have a successful business, they should have a rough idea and 8-12 weeks is reasonable. If a developer is telling you it’s going to be 6+ months …. I’d be a bit suspicious.

Do you offer monthly maintenance plans after the site is launched?

The last thing you want is to launch your awesome new, healthy website, forget about the maintenance and then have it hijacked with viruses or something that could have been preventable. Many web development teams offer monthly maintenance checkups/plans, so be sure to inquire and ask for suggestions. My web development team offers an optional monthly maintenance plan to all of our clients. This option gives them peace of mind to know that an expert is checking in on all of the tech stuff at least once a month.

What items are outside of this scope of work and project cost that I will have to occur? For example: hosting, email, URL, etc.

Put the pressure on the web development team and ask them point-blank if there is anything that is outside of the project’s price that you should know about. I always provide my clients with a thorough project outline explaining in full detail what IS included and also mention what is NOT included in the project.

Will you be installing Google Analytics and will you show me how to use it?

Google Analytics is essential for tracking your website performance. You need to have this installed.

Will you be setting up a Google Search Console for my site and business?

Great question to ask. All web developers are not created equal. My team and I DO set this up for our customers.

Will the website include an email/newsletter opt-in section to collect visitors’ email addresses?

Email marketing is a huge asset to any small business owner. Your web developer should be able to include this in your site and link it to your email platform.

Will the website include links to your social media accounts? Will the developer insert a grid of your most recent social media posts at the bottom of each page?

These are all great things to clarify, instead of assuming they are included and being disappointed at invoice time.

How do you ensure that my site is fast?

There are many factors that affect speed; hopefully, your web developer can enlighten you with how their approach takes this into account. 

Will my site look professional and be responsive on all devices – computers, tablets and mobile phones?

In the technological mobile world that we live in; it is essential for your site to look good and work on all devices. Ask them about this; it’s important. As a part of all of our projects, the final stage includes optimizing the entire site for all devices.

Will you be testing everything before it goes live?

i.e. opt-in forms, contact forms, emails, links.

How many pages are included in my website project?

How many pages do you want on your website? Do you want a blog? Will you be selling products? How many bios do you need? Do you need a sales page? Map all of this out (in a rough way) BEFORE your quote is finalized. There is no way a web developer can give you an accurate quote, without first knowing what it is they are building.

Investing in a website for your business is an important step for your business growth. A website can be your #1 marketing tool (if it is developed professionally and thoroughly by someone who knows what they are doing). If you would like to know more about me and my web development team, CLICK HERE to book a complimentary 15-minute call so I can connect directly with you.

And before you go, check out 10 Tricks to Make Google Love You. This article is packed with more tips to help you with your current or future website.

From my kitchen table to yours,

Tracy Smith is a professional copywriter, brand strategist and the Founder of Kitchen Table CEOs. Through tips, writing templates and one-on-one consulting services, Tracy helps women entrepreneurs create the content, brand and online presence they need to launch and grow their business. For more information on her services and how to work with her, please click HERE.

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