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How to Choose a Web Site Developer

Many different kinds of people design web sites from computer programmers, to graphics artists, to advertising agents, to technical writers. How do you choose someone to create the best possible web site for you? The tips below may help.

Keep in mind that you should always choose your web site developer carefully. Your web site is a direct reflection on your company or organization. A good web site may draw a new contact in, while a poorly designed site may steer that person away forever.

Choose a web site developer with the same care that you'd use to choose any other type of professional.

Ask about their qualifications. How long have they been designing web sites? Do they keep up with the changing technology? Ask to see some samples of other sites that they developed. Ask for references.
 

Match your web site's needs to the web site developer's skills.

Each person that designs web sites has his or her unique skills. The skills that are involved in web site development include designing, organizing, writing, and computer usage. When you interview a web site developer, ask about their skills. If your web site requires a lot of custom graphics, be sure that your developer has artistic skills. If your web site's content is going to be very complex, be sure that your developer has the organizational skills to handle a large amount of data. If you want your developer to oversee the written content of your web site, be sure that your developer can write and edit. If your web site needs to handle secured transactions or interact with a database, be sure your developer can program.
 

Match your product or message to the technology that the web site developer uses.

Internet technology is constantly changing. New specifications, plug-ins, and techniques are being developed every day. How do you decide what technology your site should use? When you interview web site developers, ask about their views on new Internet technology. Some web site designers only use technologies that allows their web sites to work well on a variety of computers, while others like to use the latest technology even if it is not cross-browser compatible. Think about what your product or message demands. For instance, using Shockwave plug-in that must be downloaded separately to view the site properly for a plumbing product web site may be overkill. Your audience may not want to download the plug-in, and thus the cost spent to implement the plug-in is wasted.
 

Weigh the web site developer's charge verses the quality that the developer produces.

Every web site developer has his or her own schedule of fees. Like any product, you can't always assume that the most expensive web site developer is the best or that anyone that calls himself a web site designer is competent. Compare the web site designer's estimate of the cost of development with the quality of the web site that the designer produces. Keep in mind that every web site is different and that most web site developers will not be able to give you an exact price unless they charge a flat rate. On the other hand, they should be able to tell you how much that they charged to develop other sites and from that you should be able to gauge your own site's cost. Since web site developer's costs vary greatly, you should be able to find one whose charges are compatible with your budget.
 

Review some recent samples of other sites that the web site developer designed.

Really look! Do you like the way the web site looks? Is the site easy to navigate? Do the site's graphics load within a reasonable period of time? Would you use this web site? Most web site developers create web sites with a particular style and using particular techniques. If this web site developer created a site for you, your site would probably be similar to samples that you are looking at. Would a site like this sample make you happy? Be sure to look at the site's organization, wording, and visual appeal. In addition, if possible, try the site on a few different computer systems (at home, at work, and at a friend's) to see how it works on different computers.
 

Consider using the web site developer of a site that you like.

Many web sites list the web site developer's name and contact information either on the main page itself or in the HTML source code. If a site that you like doesn't list the designer, you can contact the company or organization that owns the site. Most will be flattered that you liked their site and provide you with the web site developer's name. Another option is to ask if the web site developer you are interviewing if he or she can create a site similar to the one that you like. Having an idea in mind about the type of web site you would like or the web site address (URL) for an example of how you'd like your web site to look can help you greatly in choosing a web site developer.