You’ve got a new business or organization. You’re ready to go, but maybe your budget is limited. Do you need a web developer? You might think like a friend of mine who asked about my job. Her actual words were:
Well… yes. And then again, no. There are all sorts of tools out there, like Wix, Webdyo, or WordPress.com, to name a few. So you certainly can create your own website and don’t need a web developer to do it for you.
So why would you need a web developer, if you can do it yourself?
There are a few reasons why you might need a web developer or designer.
- Time savings.
If you’re unfamiliar with the tool you’re using to create your website, there is going to be a learning curve, no matter how intuitive the tool purports to be. Think about how much time it will take you to make the site look and work exactly the way you want. Think about how much money you could make during that time instead, doing whatever it is you do best for your company or organization. A web developer understands what you are looking for, and already has the tools necessary to help you make your site a reality, saving you time in the process.
- Specific needs.
If your website needs something that goes beyond the basics, like an e-commerce portal, a photo portfolio, or anything else that might be beyond the reach of a bare-bones tool, then you may need a web developer who understands all the ins, outs, and potential pitfalls to help you set this up.
- Support when you have questions or something goes wrong.
If you have questions about how things work on your website, or something goes wrong with your site creation, can you trust the company behind the web tool you’re using to provide support? When you find a trustworthy web developer, you can maintain an ongoing business relationship, and your developer is standing by, ready to help you any time you have issues or questions about your website.
Your website is your company’s or organization’s public face. If you’re not a web design or development expert, might it not be better to entrust this public face to someone who is? You don’t want to end up with an amateurish website that hurts your business’s or organization’s image.
- Hosting help.
Your web developer should be able to help you with hosting concerns, like choosing the right host for your project, obtaining support if the hosting goes down, or creating new email addresses for your organization.
- Time savings.
Did we already mention that? It’s worth a second mention, because really – it’s huge. The amount of time you save is the amount of time you could be working on your own business instead of worrying about how to sort out your website. You need a web developer if you want to spend your time wisely to grow your business.
So maybe you do need a web developer. How do you choose the right one?
It’s important to be sure you choose a web developer or web agency who is a good fit for you.
You need to make sure you understand each other, and that either party can move on if it isn’t a good fit.
- Do they listen to you? Do they understand your concerns?
- Do they reply appropriately and respectfully, and communicate in professional manner?
- Do they care about you, your business, and your success? Or are you just another name on the books?
- Do they respond in a timely manner? You should know your developer has received your request and will be handling it within a reasonable time frame.
- Can you reach them when you need to? If you prefer email, do they respond? If you prefer the phone, do they take phone calls? Setting a time for a call makes sense for both parties if you need to discuss the website in more detail, but if you have a quick question you need answered quickly, will your web developer be available for you?
- Can you trust that they know what they’re talking about?
- Are they able to explain web concepts to you without jargon? Do they take into account your level of experience with website design?
- If you are interested in handling content updates or other parts of your site yourself, is your developer open to that?
- Are they reliable? Will they still be there next week? Next month? Next year?
- What type of ongoing support do they provide?
What are the different types of web developers?
There are several types of companies available to you as you choose a web developer.
A freelancer or independent developer or designer may be available to you more hours than a typical 9-5 shop. This is a one-person company. While this person may have more available hours than other options, he or she may also vanish on a moment’s notice – or without any notice at all. Make sure this person is trustworthy and reliable before you hand over your website.
A website builder, or web architect, is someone who may be able to give you a website that looks amazing, but if you have any requests that aren’t easily achieved with the ready-made tools they use, they may simply tell you it’s impossible, since they may not know how to manipulate code on the back end to make your site perform the way you’d like. We’ve heard this complaint many times – the website builder simply tells the client no.
Web agencies may be small or large. Some may in fact be “web architects” rather than web developers, so be careful if you have specific needs. They may provide graphic design, or they may outsource that aspect. If you have particular requirements for your project, you may need a true web developer who can manipulate the code as needed. In that case, verify that your web agency can handle this.
If you have a specific project in mind, be sure to discuss all the details before signing on with a web developer, to be sure he, she, or the company can meet your requirements.