When our prospective clients complain that they relate our industry to some contractors, you know, the ones that take your money and never deliver. Well I am ashamed to say this is true when dealing with the fly-by-night web developers but not all of us are like that.
So who have they been dealing with?
CASE 1: One complained that they paid for a site and it was never delivered, they ran away with the poor guys money never to be seen again.
CASE 2: Another said they provided the brief and paid for a website that should function as an online store only to find that their web designer never knew what they were doing and slapped something together that never worked.
CASE 3: Just yesterday a prospect complained that they paid an absolute fortune for a site that was developed with an open source program and looked really bad, never function properly and had tons of goodies on it that they really didn't want.
Now you know why people don't trust us.
So what do you look for when appointing a reputable web designer or developer.
Look at their website and see if it is functional, aesthetically appealing and easily provides the information you are looking for.
I have come across so called web designers that don't even have their own websites yet they want to take your money and develop one for you.
Go to http://validator.w3.org and type in their web address and check that they have no errors on their website.
A website with errors in the code is bound to have problems in some browsers, show bad characters in the text and even mess around with the internal links on the pages. You must ensure that the website work in all browsers. The least you should expect is that it works in Internet explorer 6 or later, Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera. These are the most commonly used in South Africa.
W3C is the world wide web consortium which control or oversees the methods used for web development.
Check their portfolio or sample of websites they have done and contact the clients to find out what their impression of their web developer was.
If the developer has no portfolio there is no experience to rely on, you decide. You bosses son who has just left school and has managed to put a site together for the rugby club is not the same as a professional service.
A reputable company will have customer references on their website for their prospects to view.
Look for customer testimonials on their website, call the customer who wrote the testimonial and find out what their experience was with the web developer.
Although some freelance web designers are brilliant at what they do not all of them will have the same commitment to do the job, be aware.
Would you take your Mercedes to someone that works in their garage at home, I rest my case. Anyone can design a website, but not everyone can make it work properly.
Explain your objective and ask them to outline how they propose to meet this objective.
If you want to sell stuffed toys on the internet the common thing to ask for is the process of how the visitor can order, pay and provide delivery details. Or if you just want an online brochure how do they plan to give you visitor stats , a site counter is not enough you need something more detailed.
Lastly find out what search engine optimization is included in the price and what they are capable of doing beyond the basic development.
Basic SEO is part of the design, however full Search Engine Optimization must come with some form of validation report to back-up what they have done.