You’re not a website developer. That’s cool, we get it. Being a good manager is knowing what you’re good at and when you need to ask for help. Feeling out of your depth though can make finding the right developer for your project seem daunting. You’ll go to meetings, but what questions should you be asking; how will you really know your hiring the right person for the job.
We’ll outline a few of the most important questions to ask and why they are so critical to the success of your project. You can also print the attached template with the questions and space for your answers to bring along to your meetings with developers.
The biggest and most important question is: Who is the developer? Especially at the infancy of a project, when the development team is conceptualising the website, you should be working directly with the developers. If you cannot talk to the developers, then that should be a big red flag. Not being allowed to speak with developers directly usually means one of two things; that a company has a separate sales and development team, or that they are off shoring the development of the website.
Each of these issues presents different problems. If the sales team and development team are not working closely together, it is more than likely that the sales team will oversell functionality that the development team may not actually be able to deliver. You are also adding a middle man into the project meaning troubleshooting issues and even basic development to your brief will take twice as long.
This same problem goes for off shored work. The person selling the website may not have an in-depth understanding of the actual structure of a website so there is a significant risk of low quality back end work hiding behind good front end design. This most commonly manifests in security issues. If you are looking to have on site bookings, or e-commerce functionality you need to be sure that your customers data remains safe. A website needs to look good, but also needs to be built well to minimize down time and maximise your business’s security.
Next, are you looking for a website developer, a software developer or both? Not too sure what the difference is? Put simply a website developer can build the forward facing informative aspects of your website, while a software developer will do that as well as build custom functions into the back end of the website. These functions can include a staff training portal, invoicing software that is compliant with ATO standards, or a booking or enrolment system. Pretty much any administrative hurdle your business faces can be addressed through custom software built into your website.
Think about what your business’s marketing problem is, why do you want a website in the first place. Understanding why your business needs a website will make it easier to know what kind of tools, application and functions need to be included on your new site. With this clear in your mind you will know exactly the skills you will require your developer to have.
Finally, ask for references! Always ask for evidence that the developer can back up what they say in a sales meeting. Ask to see examples of similar websites and software built by the developer and ask if you can talk to previous clients. A website is often the biggest investment for a new business, and the investment is on going while you keep everything up to date and current. You want to ensure you have a healthy working relationship with your developer because through out the course of building the website you will be in touch quite a bit.