Finding a quality reputable Web Developer can be hard work. Here are some questions to be armed with.
Do you follow any industry standards?
The big answer for this is W3C standards. If they get this question and really have no idea they may try to pull the wool over your eyes and google it then tell you they do – one sure fire way is to run one of their websites through the W3C validator http://validator.w3.org/
What browsers will my website work on?
As a minimum you should be getting the following browser compatibility: internet explorer 7, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, iPhone & Opera.
What programming languages do you code in?
If the answer to this question is dreamweaver. RUN. If they only respond with HTML only. RUN. If they answer with just a open source package like WordPress or Joomla then, they may have misinterpreted the question or they have no idea what programming language they are built in – if you get this impression RUN.
*note if CSS is not an answer it’s a good indication that they are using table based design which is a big NO NO for seo, compatibility & usability – you know that if a blind person’s screen reader cannot access your website that you can get sued? Yup happened to the 2000 olympics website.
This is also going to determine your hosting requirements. While ASP is a great programming language it’s a Windows proprietary product so Hosting is extremely expensive. Also ASP developers are hard to find and are also expensive if you do decide to move on to someone else in the future you might find it hard to find smoeone.
Will my website be SEO friendly?
If they answer yes, Quiz them out about how – and the response needs to be more than just ‘meta’ tags. Usually it will be structure, alt tags, meta tags and content. If they are trying to put your website into 100% flash then it wont be SEO (or iphone/ipad) friendly.
Will my website be customised to my design & are there any limitations?
Of course you have to consider file sizes when designing websites but there is not much you can’t do with websites these days, so if a developer comes back to you about a design and says we can’t do that. ask why, if the answer is ‘it’s not possible’. RUN. If they give a good explanation on file sizing, compatibility etc then they are thinking of the user experience. If they just say ‘it’s impossible’ Good chances are they are either a. they are using a template and just switching out colours/images or b. they don’t know what they are doing.
Do you code the websites yourself?
Try and get a feel for if they are outsourcing to other countries. If they outsource their coding to a third world country, then not only is it highly unethical in our opinion, but chances are you could end up with an inferior product. (yep, I have to fix these problems all the time)
Will I own the finished website files?
Some developers offer ‘hosted’ solutions – so this usually includes a setup fee and and a yearly subscription (kinda like hosting but likely a little bit more). You’ll notice these options are usually cheap. That’s because you’re not buying the intellectual property (the code)- you’re hiring a space and customising it. And if/when you decide you hate the developer or the hosting keeps on dying and want to move to someone else, you can’t as you don’t own the files and you have to start again.
At the end of the day you get what you pay for. So if a deal seems ‘too good to be true’ chances are it is and you’ll end up having to pay for the dodgy website you got plus the more expensive version you should have gone with in the first place.