How to Choose a good Web Developer

Selecting a web developer can be a difficult decision, especially if you are not familiar with the intricacies of the internet, browsers, search engines, search engine placement optimization, web accessibility, web standards and other nuances of creating a successful web site. Often the developer will talk a good story and give you a convincing presentation, but how do you know what their real level of expertise is?

We’ve talked to business owners who already have a web site and don’t understand why they aren’t at the top of the Search Engines. If we lose potential projects to other web developers we like to know why, and this often involves visiting the new web site that we didn’t have the opportunity to develop. Often what we find appalls us! We can tell by looking at the source code that the new site is most likely going to disappoint the client who will be telling his friends “I paid for a web site and it didn’t help my business – no one can find it in the search engines.”

Naturally professional ethics prevent us from contacting the potential client who took his business elsewhere and telling him where his developer is going wrong, but in the hopes of educating businesses planning to have a web site developed, we’re going to give you some tips on what to look for when you’re choosing a web developer. We may not be the right developer for your project but here are some things to look for before you make your decision.

Is your site required by law to be Handicap Accessible..?

The site might have pretty colors, flash headers, moving graphics, music and other bells and whistles to impress the client, but will it rank well in the search engines? Will potential customers be able to navigate through the site? Will potential customers with sight or hearing handicaps be able to find what your business is trying to sell or will they abandon your site when they can’t read the small fonts or their screen readers can’t read the content for them?

Optimized Web Sites for Top Search Engine Results

Optimizing web sites for top search engine ranking is almost a science and there are companies devoted to placing your website at the top of Search Engine results.

One thing we know is the first step in achieving top rankings is a web site that complies with web coding standards. Search engine spiders travel the internet looking for web sites to add to their databases. If they get confused with the behind the scenes code – they just move on. Spiders don’t care how pretty the site is, whether it has moving graphics, sounds and other fancy displays – they only read text code. Search engine spiders tend to get confused when they find javascript and flash – techniques used for rollover buttons and animation – those fancy elements that clients like to see can actually push the web site to the bottom of search results!.

This doesn’t mean that your site can’t be attractive and unique or feature rollover buttons and animations – it just requires some alternative technology that meets web standards to achieve the look you want.

Check the developer’s existing client sites

Keep in mind that you don’t need to like the design of the developer’s own web site – it was created for their individual purposes which may not be the same as yours.

DO check out other sites the developer has created. Their web site should include links to examples of their work. Do they convey a good impression of the business or individual they are representing? Are they easy to navigate? Can you find what you’re looking for? Do they load quickly in your browser? Do they look professional or amateurish? (This is, of course, a subjective opinion, but if YOU don’t feel they look professional chances are others won’t either – steer away.)

DO see how the other sites rank in the search engines. Enter a phrase you might use in searching for the site in Google (NOT the business or web site name) and see where the site displays. If it doesn’t make it to the first two or three pages in a relevant phrase search – you will probably want to do more investigation! No developer can guarantee search engine placement and sometimes it takes awhile for a site to attain a top placing – but it’s worth your consideration.

DON’T be afraid to ask for references and DO CONTACT them about their experiences with your developer-under-consideration. This is one of the best ways to determine how successful the developer has been in achieving customer satisfaction! If you are going to shell out your hard earned cash for a web site, you want satisfaction.

Credit: SOS Web Design LLC


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