What You Need To Know When Hiring Your Website Developer

I know many coaches and practitioners who had bad experience when they work with some “web guy” to develop their websites. Most of the frustrations evolve around taking much longer than initially estimated, being charged way more than the initial quote, certain functionalities not working as expected (and not being fixed without further charges), or the developer holding the clients “hostage” by not giving them access or showing them how to use the website editing tools. I even know a person who, after sinking thousands of dollars, walked away with a half-finished website that she has to keep building on her own.

This is absolutely not to say that all website developers are bad people – there are of course awesome ones out there! I was very happy with my own experience – this website was set up for less than $200 – on time, on budget, no glitches. But you can’t just grab a web dude and hope for the best. You need to know what to ask, what to look for and also TAKE RESPONSIBILITY to educate yourself so you can ensure smooth communication.

Here are a few things you can do to increase the chances of having satisfactory experience and results when you work with someone to build your website (I worked as a web project manager for 10 years so trust that I know a thing or two… I can’t code my way out of a wet paper bag but I can sniff developer BS from miles away):

  1. Start SMALL – if possible, you can ask a few candidates to work on some small tasks and see who is on-time, on-budget and responsive. Then based on the experience (and the vibe) select “the” one to do your big project.
  2. Pay attention to the SCOPE – if your scope is “time & materials” – i.e. you are charged by the hour – you may want to set a cap on how much you want to spend before the project begins. Have the web guy do some periodic reporting and ask that you be alerted if you are likely to go over budget so you can prioritize your tasks and get the mission-critical stuff done (the very least, you have the basics to launch). If your scope is “fixed fee” – i.e. you are charged a flat fee for a fixed set of deliverables – review the scope carefully to make sure that everything you need to get the site to launch is covered, and you will get the support you need post-launch.
  3. Clarify OWNERSHIP and access – not common these days, but I have heard stories of developers retaining ownership of the site and withholding access so every time the client needs to change something they need to pay for the work. To make sure you are not held “hostage”, or have to pay another fee to “buy” your site back, it’s best to get clear on ownership.
  4. Make sure site is MOBILE RESPONSIVE – most WordPress themes are mobile responsive, but again, it pays to be sure because more and more people are using mobile devices to access content online.
  5. Know how much TESTING (or QA) support you get – ask about the extent of testing. E.g. Is he going to do cross-browser testing? Is he going to test the site on mobile devices? Is he going to test all the functionalities (e.g. newsletter sign up, shopping cart)? Although there is much less cross-browser incompatibility with the widespread use of WordPress, you do need to pay attention to any customization – e.g. I know someone who had her site redesigned – it looks gorgeous on the computer, but when it’s viewed on the iPad, the free gift sign up field is smacked right over her face on the masthead banner!
  6. Get a 30-Day GUARANTEE – glitches get uncovered when you actually use the site! Your web guy should stand by his work and guarantee to fix bugs within a reasonable amount of time.
  7. Ask for a backend WALKTHROUGH – you want to be able to make changes and edit your own website. You don’t want to be held hostage every time you need to add or change any content. It is not just a matter of money – you will feel empowered and you are more nimble in your content creation and marketing.
  8. Be ASSERTIVE, ask QUESTIONS – don’t assume you are “dumb”… a lot of tech guys use terms that we normal people don’t use and when you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation in plain English!
  9. EDUCATE yourself on the basics – you don’t have to know how to code, but understanding the basics, knowing what to ask and using the correct terminologies can help facilitate the process. There will be fewer chances of miscommunication – which can lead to your web guy building something totally different that what you think you are getting, wasting precious time and money. I also find that developers show you more respect and are less likely to give you BS if you know what you are talking about.

If you use WordPress, codeable.io is a great resource where you can find coders who are experts in WordPress. You post your task, set your budget, and they will bid on the project. I love it for small projects and quick fixes.

* here is what that asterisk by the “be assertive, ask questions” about:

Even if some people *know* they need to be assertive and thorough, they don’t do it and then later hit themselves on their heads. Why? Something is causing this self-defeating behavior and this thing is called “primary fear”:

  • The fear of INADEQUACY – if you feel like you are not good enough, you don’t have the confidence to challenge others. You may not want to ask questions because it may reaffirm your limiting belief that you don’t know enough.
  • The fear of being VULNERABLE – if you don’t want to appear vulnerable, you may “puff up” and appear that you know. You don’t want to ask questions that make you appear that you are not knowledgeable.
  • The fear of MISSING OUT – if you are afraid that if you don’t “act now” and get it now you may miss out on something – and this fear drives you to make hasty decisions before you have all the facts.

What a Freelance Web Designer Should Consider to Find the Right Cost

For a freelance web designer, it is quite a challenging task to figure out the worth of your time, and it could take some time to learn the cost of the different projects. There could be assignments that, in spite of low payments, take a little of your time, and that makes them worth it, while some other projects would come with a fat paycheck, but could take over life. Hence, in venturing into the world of freelance web designing or development, the key is to figure out the correct rate. Now granted, what you can convince your client to pay you that determines the charge, but there are certain factors that could help you come to your goal rate. To help you figure out the rates as a freelance designer, here are few tips for you:

What the client is really asking for

At the outset, find out the components and features that the client wants. There must be some cost variations between building a personal blog and a website for a large-scale business. A big challenge for a freelancer is finding ways to deal with changes in project scope. Hence, you need to consider the following.

How demanding the client is

You could come across demanding clients, some offers the projects, and only provides answers to your queries, while some others might be micromanaging things all through the project. You need to factor in the second type of clients while charging. However, you need to consider the following as well.

Your skill level

It is important for you to be honest regarding the level of experience that you have with different types of projects. Your expertise may be short of what the client needs, and your level of delivering may not be similar to another designer, or else, you may need some more time and research to perform the task. One thing that needs to be noted is that the better-experienced designers are capable of delivering faster, while payments made to beginners are used up for learning. So, you need to consider the following option.

Charging Hourly

The hourly rates of a designer usually are around $40 on the low-end, while the high-end figure is about $75 (though this figure could be as high as $100 or more for an hour), with $59 an hour as an average.

However, in hourly charging, there are few things that you cannot include. Hence, if there is a need to learn a new skill, you can just discount the hours that are spent in learning, while at other times, billing a flat rate for the project would make more sense. If you make a mistake, you cannot charge for the lost hours. It is justified to bill the lost hours if the client keeps changing his or her requirements. And if the mistake is from your end, or if the client is not satisfied with the work, you better not bill the client, but instead, do some little extra work to deliver, or else offer a discount. Here, it is only your gut and the relationship that you have with your client that matters.

Designers could also charge variable hourly rates depending on the kind of functions that they do (designing, coding, etc.). The hourly rate billing has the advantage in that it is more straightforward to deal with the billing, and also letting the client include some more tasks without any complexity, along with being easy to please without any need for numerous revisions. However, sometimes the client does not find well if the hours spent is running up. Hence, in such circumstances, your option would be the following.

Charging by the project

Your charging could depend on standard packages that include a certain amount of work that you always provide. Usually, a freelance web developer and designer charge depending on the time taken to complete the project (usually, an hourly rate) as calculated from their past experiences and/or the bearing capability of the market. If the hourly or project-based approach does not go well, then you need to consider the following.

Charging by the page

Although a rare payment method, there are some freelance web designers and developers who calculate the cost this way. This would go well for designers creating relatively simple marketing style websites, though this mode of charging should also be considered by designers and developers.

Why It’s Better to Choose a Web-Designer Who Offers In-House Hosting

Often when it comes to hosting, there are a lot of options out there and you might end up spending a lot of valuable time looking for an appropriate package. This article outlines why it’s better to choose a web designing firm that offers in-house hosting services and what you need to know to get the most out of your package.

Why do it?

After all, if you’ve managed to find an affordable deal with a supposedly ‘great’ web hosting company, why not take the deal? There’s great functionality and all for a great price. But what about technical support? If the server goes down at a critical moment, wouldn’t you rather deal with someone reliable whose been dealing with you and your company before rather than some random stranger? Besides, what guarantee do you have that they’ll respond to your query in the first place? They have millions of customers to service, what makes your case special? Yeah sure, you can threaten to leave if they don’t but when it comes down to it: what difference will it really make?

As opposed to working with the in-house hosting services of your existing web design and development firm where you know the staff can be trusted upon to make management easy. And you can guarantee on the fact that they want your business, ensuring if their service is reliable, you can pass on their name to others in your business and personal circles.

Secondly, despite the low costs and ‘great features’ of other hosting providers, know that cost isn’t everything and quality of service should be the basis of your decision. With a web design firm, you can contact the right official and get a full evaluation of up-time/downtime comparison charts, ask about the availability of added security and even have customised solutions built towards helping your business instead of a standardised, one-size-fits-all solution.

A huge benefit of using an existing web design firm is that installation is fast and easy with relatively no delay between when the site has been completed and when it’s being uploaded. You can’t guarantee a fast turnaround time with normal hosting packages.

Because you know about the existing quality of service regarding all other areas of the web development firm, making a decision regarding the hosting aspects will be a relatively easy decision.

You will be guaranteed a personalised approach to the huge ordeal of locating the appropriate provider and package since the firm will already know (in detail) your existing requirements, goals and objectives and will choose the appropriate deal.

You will also know for certain that the package and provider will be the most suited to run your website and any attending applications and because you are aligning yourself with a web development firm, will have the option of including search engine optimsation support which is a huge advantage over traditional hosters.

By incorporating the firm’s hosting package into your specifications, you will be comfortable with the people you’re dealing with, the customer service and technical support, the knowledge that you will be able to make updates yourself via a customised web control panel, an option to test out a dummy setup to ensure it works for you and a professional to work with you on designing security policies and procedures that are all lacking in hosting with a hosting provider.