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Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys

Inquire about your growth and if you ever decide to hire an in-house developer, will there be a problem? (This question usually shakes people up a bit, but what you are looking at is a developer who is afraid to share. This should give you a bit of a red flag.)

My husband watches a show on the Discovery channel called "Holmes on Homes" and as we rode the train the other morning he was talking to me about a recent episode. Host Michael Holmes was helping a women whose roof was caving in due to a contractor's error. The episode recap goes like this: To make better use of space, the woman wanted to move her kitchen to another part of the house, and build a new bathroom where the kitchen formerly was. The contractor she hired, referred to her by her interior designer, did as she asked. However, when moving heating vents, the main support beam – the piece that structurally holds up the roof – was cut! Subsequently, the roof began to sag and if Michael Holmes had not been there to help, the roof would have caved in before too long.

This very interesting story hit home for me. I can't begin to tell you the number of people who come to me near tears about their experience with sub par web designers. This made me wonder if people really understand what goes into a successful website?

The keyword here is successful. No man is an island when it comes to developing a website. So, what do I mean by that? I am nothing without my team. Most people who have visited my website or read my blogs know that I believe there is a recipe for creating a successful website and it is unlikely for any one person to be an expert at all of the items needed to make a successful website. In case you're wondering the key ingredients are: design, development, copywriting and marketing. If you are missing any one of these elements you may find your website lacking the success you had imagined.

But the element most closely related to my narrative above is development. The development of your website is the programming or the code – this is what makes your website function. Thankfully, poor code will not cave in your roof, but it can cost you sales and cost you money in web updates if done improperly. Someone who understands how to be a good programmer means that they test their work across multiple web browsers to ensure the site looks and functions the same for all users. A good programmer is someone who writes well-organized, clean code and uses web styles to make universal changes quickly and efficiently. The main support beam of your website is the coding done by your developer.

How do you know if you have a good developer? Just like you should interview contractors even if they are referred, you should ask your potential web developer some questions:

  • Research their work.
  • Ask to talk to present and former clients.
  • When discussing their work, ask if they found any of their programming to be problematic.
  • How long did it take to fix errors?
  • Do you feel a personal comfort level? Ask their references if they feel comfortable with their relationship.
  • What is their testing phase like? (If they don't have one run the other way!)
  • Ask what causes a fluctuation in the pricing?

Inquire about your growth and if you ever decide to hire an in-house developer, will there be a problem? (This question usually shakes people up a bit, but what you are looking at is a developer who is afraid to share. This should give you a bit of a red flag.)

Some people ask – who owns the code? This question is a bit of a tough one because it is really not an easy question to answer. You may get an answer that is more confusing than the question. Instead, you may want to ask if the project you are engaging them for is a "work for hire" or will they be using any proprietary applications that may require future licensing fees. If the web application is expensive to develop, be sure there is a licensing buy out option.

This is only one ingredient to my recipe for a successful website. If you choose your contractor wisely, you won't accidentally cut your main support beam and have your roof cave in, thus alleviating the need for Michael Holmes to rush to the rescue.

Hopefully reading this article has made you a smarter consumer when it comes to hiring a web developer. We have all heard the saying you get what you pay for and when it comes to technology and building contractors, I think my dad, of All Phase Carpentry said it best, {xtypo_quote_right} When you pay peanuts you get monkeys.{/xtypo_quote_right}

This article has been the first of a series. Look for articles on the rest of my "ingredients" for a successful website in the coming weeks!

About the author:
Jennifer Shaheen, the eMarketing and Technology Therapist, has more ten years experience working with small to mid-sized businesses on their eMarketing and Web-development needs. You can learn more about her by visiting her Web site, www.TechnologyTherapy.com


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