website developer on computerWith so many great website templates out there, why would anyone hire a website developer?

No matter what business you find yourself in, having a great website is no longer an advantage, but a necessity. A great looking, well-thought out, and functional website is key to building a reputable online presence. Having an outdated or broken website can not only damage online sales, but also create brand distrust – building a barrier between your business and potential customers. This is why savvy business owners still find it essential to hire a professional website developer.

There’s a reason why online site builders and cheap website templates haven’t put good website developers out of business…actually there are several, but here are 3 important ones:

The Primary Reason to Hire a Pro is for the Clean and Effective Coding.

The quickest way to render your site ineffective is to use a builder that bloats your site or uses a template that may not be coded to the best web standards. If you think Google won’t notice, you’re in for a surprise.

Second to That, a Website Developer Makes Your Site Stand Out.

Have you ever surfed the web and felt like every website looked the same? You’re not alone. In fact, many of our local competitors use the same standard themes and just plug-n-play logos and images. It’s hard enough to stand out as a small business without paying someone to help you blend in.

Lastly, Consideration for Lead Generation, Sales, and Conversions.

Isn’t that why you’re looking to create a new site anyway? A template is an easy way to “get’er done,” but when you hire a professional website developer or web development company, you are getting a team well-versed in landing page optimization, SEO, navigational architecture, content writing, and the technical structure to drive it all.

”As a website developer, I’ve worked with dozens of different hosted solutions that offer both free and paid themes. One thing that remains consistent is that the bulk of store owners who start with templates hire a professional website developer within the first year of business to create a more customized solution.” – Paul Quinn

With so many hiring options – in-house, overseas, freelancers, design firms – how do you know how to hire the right website developer?

The first step in finding a well-suited candidate is knowing and defining your needs. More often than not, hiring a full-time, in-house website developer is overkill and contracting out your website design and build is a more cost-efficient and equally effective solution.

Know your own strengths and weaknesses (be honest with yourself) and look for a developer who can fill in the gaps. If you’re savvy, maybe you’ll only need help with the initial build and implementation. If your talents lie elsewhere, hiring an in-house developer or white label agency for maintenance and web updates would be wise.

If the first step is knowing what kind of hire you’re looking for, the next step is knowing what kind of site you’re after. Will your site include a blog or a shopping cart? Will it need to be content-heavy or rely more on images and graphics? Clearly defining the project leaves little room for misunderstanding and helps you narrow down candidates quickly. Having a list of competitors’ websites, as well as notes on your likes and dislikes, helps potential developers understand your niche.

Beyond site design, what functionality are you looking for? Functionality like super menus, filtered searches, parallax scrolling, and lazy loading should be considered and defined before beginning website development. If you aren’t entirely sure what you want, the next step will be critical in finding the right developer.

Even if a potential hire is well vetted and has an impressive portfolio, they won’t be a good fit if you can’t communicate with them effectively. If you need help defining the project scope, finding a website developer willing to take the time to offer advice, answer questions, or even just listen to your concerns will be important. Building a solid foundation through good communication shows that the developer is willing to work with you to achieve your goal. If someone is willing to take that kind of time and consideration before landing the job, odds are they will remain a good communicator throughout the project.

Once you’ve determined the kind of developer you need, the project scope, and talked to a few candidates, the next step is looking at their experience. Most developers have portfolios showcasing past projects. Look through these projects, but don’t just look at the pictures; visit the websites they’ve built to see how they function. Has the design changed since it was added to their portfolio? Does the page load quickly? Is the design responsive and does it load well across devices (mobile and tablet optimized)? These are all important things to look for. Ask for references and if possible, contact some of their past clients and ask questions about their experience. What was the developer’s role in their project? Did the project go smoothly and was it finished on time? Did they communicate well? If you aren’t able to contact past clients, you can search for reviews on sites like LinkedIn, Yelp, and Google.

The hiring process can seem daunting, but defining your project, asking the right questions, and contacting candidates will help ensure you’ve chosen the right web developer. There’s no reason to rush through candidates and the web design and development process. Taking the time to carefully consider potential hires will save you from pitfalls and setbacks, saving you time and money in the long run.