By Author V.S.Atbay
I started to look for a web developer back in September of 2011. This was my first time venturing into the idea and not having a clue about what to look for - so I brought my passion, trust, excitement and ambition with me.
Just like many first time enthusiasts.
But after experiencing two unprofessional web developers $2,000 dollars later, I learned one huge expensive lesson. So what's my objective? To help you avoid doing the same.
Rule # 1.
It's better to create a website using a template, rather then building it from scratch. This will save you a lot of money and a lot of time since a pre-designed template (or theme) already covers most of the general features and themes you would initially want such as comment sections, social icon buttons, etc..,
Ask your web-developer to send you some samples. (They should have plenty on hand) or you can purchase a template on line. Look and search carefully and you'll find just the right one for your website. Remember to choose something that goes with the "culture" or "essence" of what your website will be about.
Once you've selected a template, you can then ask your wed developer to add any additional features. Building a site from scratch can be exciting and challenging, but unless you're prepared to spend lots of money and practice lots of patience, it's not the greatest move or a wise investment, specially if you don't know what your looking for.
For example, would you walk into a car dealership and ask for the car to be built from scratch? Or, would you pick a car already made where all you had to do was add the extra features? Unless you have lot of money to blow on a custom made car created from scratch (and I mean bones) you'd most likely choose the second option. Creating a website is sort of the same thing.
Rule # 2.
It's better to find a local web-developer rather then someone who is overseas or out of your city. If your web-developer is local, you can meet up with them in person and you will feel a lot more comfortable, safe and reassured as to where and who your money is going to. Placing a real face to a name or a company can help you in trusting who you are working with as well.
My first web developer who was in a different province, lost interest in the project, wasn't professional or ethical enough to continue the work, avoided my emails and started to avoid my correspondence all together. Not to mention, I lost lots of money from her lack of services.
You shouldn't fight tooth and nail to get a response from your web-developer. If you are, then I suggest paying attention to the red flags.
Rule # 3.
Just like failed romantic relationship, RE-BOUNDS DO NOT WORK. When you're too emotional, impatient and just want to fix previous hurt or pain by replacing your ex with a quick fix, well, that's exactly what you're doing, replacing and settling for the next "best thing."
You're settling for something of temporary and settling will not bring you happiness, is not healthy and will not solve your problems.
Similarly, by choosing the second web-developer out of haste, I settled for a "professional" that took advantage of my irrationality and impulsive need to restore and save my website and the bad experience I had endured. I was so relieved to find someone somewhat local, that I just wanted to get the ball rolling. Instead, he sensed my ambitious and desperate pursuit to have it "fixed" and increased his costs. Not to mention, did a lousy job with 50% of the work remaining incomplete. He also made many errors (if i dare say, on purpose) so that I can ask him to fix it and therefore, pay him each time for each project, each edit. Very sneaky I tell you!
Lesson? It's never wise to make decisions out of anger or frustration. Emotion and impatience clouds judgement; good judgment that can probably save you a lot of headaches.
Rule # 4.
If your building a website that requires a lot of changes, editing and so forth, paying a web-developer on a project by project basis will cost you tremendously more! Specially if they decide to take advantage of your mistakes. It's a lot more cost efficient to agree to an hourly basis. That way, you and your web-developer can arrange a reasonable time to have all the work completed. What's more important, is to make sure you clarify this with your web-developer. All details, expectations and intentions should be made clear upon initial consultation/meeting or signings.
Rule # 5.
Communication is key. Your web developer should notify you of their methods, tools, and all costs upfront.
The key is to ask all the necessary questions, ask for a receipt after each payment/installment as well and do your homework before hand!
Rushing into anything is a mistake. If an "unprofessional" web developer senses your desperateness and vulnerability, they will likely attempt to rip you off. In other words, you WILL be taken advantage if you give him/her the opportunity and don't set things straight.
Rule # 6.
Ask for references and follow your intuition. If your gut tells you something fishy is going on, then something fishy IS going on. Maybe you're being cheated of your money, perhaps your web developer is adding unnecessary charges because they can sense your desperateness, irrationality and vulnerability and so on. Biggest mistake you can do is to throw caution to the wind. On the other hand, you may just decide this isn't the web developer you want to work with - "professional" chemistry is important.
Rule # 7.
Careful planning is KEY. Asking the web developer for samples of his or her work is KEY.
Researching their website is KEY. Comparing different web developers and companies is KEY. Do you like their professional website? Can they give you referrals, are they selling you fancy features or are they interested in your cause? Are they scaring you and making everything seem impossible? Remember, a true professional should make you feel comfortable and reassured, by being honest. If they can't do the job, then they should tell you straightforwardly and not manipulate the situation.
Rule # 8.
When looking to create a website for the first time, seek advice from a professional company, do your homework, do your research, take notes and don't go with the FIRST web-developer you lay your eyes or ears on. Also, just because your best friend or best buddy refers a web- developer, does not mean that the web-developer is the right "fit" for you. It's like being set up on a blind date, you're not going to like everyone you're set up with.
But when it comes to web-developers, maybe you won't like their way of communicating, their attitude, maybe their more business oriented when what you really need is a web-developer that understands your artistic and creative side - so do your own research. This is NOT like love at first site! (pun intended)
Rule # 9.
Keep your cool, remain professional, plan your vision ahead of time, be upfront, honest about what your looking for and ask for what you want. Creating a website can be very exciting and fun, but also challenging. Furthermore, don't allow your excitement to cloud your judgment. (Remember)
After-all, you want to be happy with what you've helped create, you want your website to embody you (whatever it is you do), you want to feel satisfied and proud of your creation.
Remember, YOU are the creator and the face of your web-site and a web-developer merely puts your ideas in the right technical-coded order and is there to give you technical guidance, help you with the design, host your site and so on.
Rule # 10.
Avoid big companies that will charge you an arm and a leg and a torso. Find the right fit for you. How do you do that? Well, look for local companies that are not costly or look for independent web-developers that have a professional portfolio that they can prove and show to you. You can also purchase a template on line and create your own website, for example, companies such as www.homestead.com offers many choices.
Rule # 11.
Examine a few things:
Are you and your web-developer compatible? do they "GET" your vision? Are they patient? Are they willing to educate and support you along the way or are they stringing you along, and adding more costs. Are they helping you save time and money? Are they suggestive of new ideas to help you lower costs? Are they responding to your needs? Ask yourself all of these questions when hunting for the right web developer or speaking with one. Research Smart.
Rule # 12.
Seek referrals, talk to friends and TAKE YOUR TIME. Just because a web-developer shoves decades of experience in your face, should not automatically qualify them or make them trustworthy either. You should be able to trust them with your intuition, you should be able to feel comfortable around them and with the quality of work they have produced. Does it sound like they believe in their work? If you get a bad feeling- MOVE ON.
Rule # 13
It's best to be the owner of your own domain name so that you can have full control over your website. This will help, should you want to change web-developers in the future.
Also, make sure your web-developer gives you a back up data of your entire website (coded form) after it is completed. This might come in handy someday if you are transferring web-developers since they may require a copy of your site in coded form - and you'll be prepared with that back-up copy.
Rule # 14.
Save all correspondence between you and your web-developer. Do not delete anything in case you need to look back and refer to something. Maybe there was a mistake in the amount they quoted you, maybe they forgot to add something and so on. This will come in handy, believe me!
Rule # 15.
NEVER make a full payment in advance. You could run the risk of having your money stolen and work not being completed - something I faced with my first web -developer. Payments should be made in installments of two or three. In the beginning of the service, in the middle and in the end when your website is completed. This way trust is built along the way between you and your web guy or gal, and progress can be monitored a lot more comfortably avoiding any misunderstandings.
Rule # 16.
Is your website a source of revenue or a hobby? Knowing the difference and its use is fundamental in helping you save money. Tell your web-developer your purpose so they can suggest ways to help you either make money or save money.
Rule # 17.
Plan a rough draft of your website on paper. Have a visual for each section/tab with a list of the changes and requirements. This will help you explain things to your web-developer more clearly and save you time.
Going back and forth consistently can get frustrating and costly.
Rule # 18.
When your patient and willing to follow you gut feeling, good things happen.
After working with two unprofessional web developers and a couple of thousand dollars later, I bumped into my neighbor - Doug Crosse from Four C Communications for the first time. He was running a garage sale five houses down on a beautiful spring day and to my surprise, he was actually a web-developer!
He turned out to be an amazing person who just "GOT" my vision and problem right away after I explained to him what I had experienced over the course of seven months.
He was reassuring, showed me ways to fix my website right on the spot, and more importantly, educated me in a span of just a few days. He was not only professional, but understanding, empathetic, fair, honest and more importantly, he made me feel comfortable with his laid back, compassionate and straight forward manner. I could trust him.
He restored my website in less then a few days with an amazing quote. It must have been serendipity!
Check it out: www.vsatbay.com
Rule # 19.
Get creative and expand your mind. Your website should make you feel proud - if you're dreading to go on your website, that could be a red flag.
Rule # 20.
Have fun and enjoy the journey!
This should be a rewarding learning experience and not a stressful nightmare. Good luck and Happy Web Hunting!
If you have a web developer story you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about it!
Author V.S Atbay