How do I tell if a developer is right for me?

By Vicki Ball

Your website is important. Your time is important. Your money is important! So finding the right developer is important too.

Below I’ll explore some questions you should ask and things you should consider when finding a developer for your website.

Making the right match

A good match is about matching expectations. Small business? Then find a developer who can give you the customised service and dedication you need. Big national brand or company? Then find who has the resources to meet your needs.

Matching experience can also be a plus. Developers will often get work through word of mouth, most often through word of mouth in a particular industry. If you sell bmx bikes and the developer has done a lot of cycling-related websites, then they are likely to understand your industry and your needs.

Matching values is also important. Look at the developer’s website and what values they believe in. Do they value customer service? Speedy delivery? Economic or environmental concerns? Your return on investment? Your customers’ needs? Do these values match yours?

Analysing their portfolio

Take the time to analyse their portfolio. Does it include websites similar in nature to what you want? In a similar industry?

Visit some of the websites and really experience them. Do any errors occur? Is there anything that doesn’t look or work quite right? Really test the sites out- submit a query or use a feature: how did it feel? Was it clunky or smooth? Be sure to try out the sites in different browsers- do they still look and work OK?

Sit back and look at the general visual style of the sites in their portfolio. Do you like it? Does the style suit your business? Be honest about what kind of look/feel you want: classic or cutting edge? Does their portfolio have examples of this style?

Customer service

Good customer service is important not only while your new website is being developed, but later on once it is live and needs support or maintenance.

You can test and evaluate a developer’s customer service by making an enquiry. Send an email or website query and see if you get a response in a reasonable time frame. Create some important questions you want to ask and measure how quickly and how adequately they are answered.

Check out their website to see what their attitudes to customer service are, then see if you can determine how these words are put into action.

All the other things

Don’t forget the things you can’t necessarily see on a website or in a portfolio. Is hosting provided- what are the costs and services provided? Can the developer provide other services such as search engine optimisation and marketing, email campaigns, website and visitor stats and reporting?

If the information is on their website, take a look at the tools and services they use. Have they been chosen for a reason? If so, do you agree with those reasons?

You’re allowed to ask

Anything! If it’s important to you, then you should always feel free to ask your developer about it. Ask for testimonials or if you can contact one of their customers to discuss their service (be prepared to return the favour if you become their customer).

You can ask them to prepare a customised portfolio of their work that matches what you’re looking for. You can ask what their charge rates are, if they can give you a ball park figure or estimate for your site or idea. You can ask for advice or recommendations. If it’s important to you, you can ask to meet them, their team or to see their offices.


Because websites are important, we think it’s important to take the time to find a developer who is the right fit for you. And your developer will appreciate it too- we take our work seriously and we always appreciate someone else who does as well!

| More
blog comments powered by Disqus

The Hypothetical Blog: Stark Raving Sane

April 05 Icons, icons and icons!

Building any kind of web interface, particularly one that requires any kind of human interactivity, will at some time utilise icons. Whether they be on buttons, used in headings, or tabs or panels, icons are like little visual pieces of informative haiku: small, succint and should make you smile.

more »

What We're Reading


In our opinion, Ryan Bates is something of a Rails stevedore: since March of 2007 he’s been packaging and delivering Railscasts to the interwebs on a weekly basis.

Available through iTunes or via download on the Railscast website, each episode lasts between five and twenty minutes, with shownotes and additional resources also available on the website.

more »