Are you looking to build a simple website to promote your products and services? Thinking about creating a fully interactive app to engage your customers better? In both cases, you need to hire a reliable web development company.
The market is saturated with thousands of small-time developers, freelancers, and big-name studios. Finding a budget-friendly contractor that understands your business niche, knows trendy tech stacks, and has the experience and glowing reviews is no easy task. But we can show you an easy 6-step process that will improve your chances of hiring the best web developers.
Step 1: Set Concrete Business Goals
Newly minted entrepreneurs and brick-and-mortar business owners with little experience in online commerce often get stuck choosing between the “Big Two”: websites and web apps.
- They can be static or dynamic.
- Their main goals are to provide information to your clients and to collect customer contact data.
- The most common examples of business websites are landing pages and business portfolios.
- Upside: low cost and short development time.
- Downside: lack of advanced interactivity and individual features.
Web apps are advanced, action-oriented environments that allow users to access and manipulate data.
- They are always dynamic.
- Their main goal is to engage visitors by providing custom features and interactivity. If your customers are looking for a personalized experience, then web apps are the go-to option.
- Common examples of web apps include e-commerce stores, social media platforms, and niche solutions like loan calculators, business analytics or management apps.
- Upside: interactivity and custom solutions.
- Downside: sophisticated design, bigger budgets, longer development times.
Smaller companies, especially single-product or single-service vendors are more likely to benefit from a regular website. Large businesses engaged in the markets where customers are looking for individual experience, interactivity and advanced features, need to develop a comprehensive web app. They might use a simpler website as a stop-gap measure while they are preparing to launch an e-commerce store or service app.
Making a choice between websites and web apps boils down to two questions. What does your market want? Do you have the means to implement the features? Starting small is a sensible strategy. You could add a few advanced features to your business website later or start developing a full-scale app after you have found initial success in selling your product or service.
Avoid implementing trendy but costly features like complex animation or live chats if they have a negligible effect on your target audience.
Step 2: Find a List of Best Web Designers and Developers
Using online services and catalogs can greatly reduce the time you spend looking for a developer. You can get a full grasp of the IT market in a few minutes. Reputable online catalogs vet their participants, verify data and provide a clear ranking methodology.
IT companies in these catalogs are usually professionals in their field with years of experience. You can compare their portfolios, tech stacks and frameworks, and price ranges for similar projects and read through the customer reviews. Catalogs can help you find an onshore developer located closest to your place of business.
Starting with a list of potential contractors is a better way to find a perfect partner for your business needs than relying on luck or word of mouth.
Step 3: Take a Close Look at Web Developers From Your Short List
After browsing through an online catalog you will reduce your list of potential partners to a couple of companies. You should spend some time studying their portfolios and looking for reviews beyond those listed on their websites.
A portfolio can tell you a lot about its owner. If a company has projects completed for big-name companies, it shows the quality of their services and management practices. It also can signal that the developer works in a higher price range.
If projects in the portfolio vary widely, it can mean that the web development company uses a generalist approach or hasn’t yet discovered its strengths. It can also mean that customers avoid recommending that developer to other companies in their niche.
An experienced web development company tends to specialize in a single or a few adjacent niches seldom taking “outside customers.” Ideally, you should look for a developer that has completed a few projects in your niche or offers ready-made solutions that can be slightly tweaked to serve your business needs.
At this stage, you can message the companies on your shortlist or even meet with their representatives to discuss your ideas and business goals. Or you can make an additional step if you want to play it safe.
Step 4: Read Unbiased Reviews
You’ve already read through the glowing reviews the companies have posted on their websites or in IT catalogs. Before you decide to commit, look for reviews on third-party sites and specialized forums. You may even contact the Better Business Bureau to do a comprehensive background check.
A few negative reviews should dissuade you from working with a specific service provider. But if there is a negative pattern emerging in those reviews, you should try looking for a better potential partner. Common complaints might include missing deadlines, blowing up the budget, and failure to communicate.
Step 5: Meeting Your Potential Service Provider
This step is the most important of them all. You should come prepared for the first meeting with your future web developer. Bring a checklist that includes questions you want to ask and don’t rush headlong into signing the contract before considering alternative options. Creating a short presentation of your business project and a list of goals or KPIs you want to achieve will make the conversation easier.
First Meeting Checklist:
- Ask how long the development process will take. Experienced developers can give you a realistic approximation.
- Ask them to help you assess the scope of the budget needed to develop a website or app. How do they handle going over the budget limits and is it a common practice in their work?
- Discuss schedule creep. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their current workload and ability to accommodate you as a customer.
- If you have other concerns after reading the reviews, address them as well.
The way the company’s representatives handle themselves when discussing your project and their management practices will tell you a lot about whether you should be working with them or not.
Step 6: Compare the Prices
This is a pretty straightforward step. After you have contacted and met all the developers from your shortlist, make the final decision based on your budget. You shouldn’t decide on the price alone, though. A bigger upfront investment might prevent you from spending more money on maintenance and future development of your web project.
Finding a reliable, trustworthy web development partner is a key to success in bringing your business online or expanding its presence. Focus on your business goals, look for developers with an experience in your niche, vet your potential business partners and make sure that your money is spent on features that your customers want.