Red Flags: Signs your web developer is not right for you
Setting up your business has lots of elements involved. Apart from coming up with the products/services to sell, you also need to think of marketing and promotion approach to implement. Promoting your goods through various channels ensures that your business will reach more target customers and in the end, gain you more revenue. And in this digital age, a website is one of the mediums you can use in order to promote and advertise your merchandise!
Making your own website from scratch is a daunting task. Especially for business owners like you, an extra pair of hands would definitely help to set up a website for your business. Even if you knew web development, hiring somebody to do the job for you makes it easier. You will have one less thing to worry about and will have more time to focus on other important things.
However, looking for a web developer can be risky. There is always that fifty per cent chance that you will end up getting scammed, unhappy with the result or feel that you wasted time and money. Especially if you intend to look for the assistance overseas, it makes the whole process a little bit more – scary.
Of course, not everybody who hired a web developer has negative experiences with it. Some business owners will tell you that choosing a web developer, whether through a third party company or a freelancer, was the best decision they ever made. It only boils down to the fact that you need to hire the “best” suitable candidate for your business. But then you might ask, how can you do that?
Searching for the best web developer for your business is about 50% luck, 25% credentials, and the rest – gut feel! Before things can go absolutely disastrous for you, there are tell-tale signs that you shouldn’t ignore to warn you that your web developer is not right for you.
Doesn’t seem interested in your vision/input
The moment you set up your business and decided you wanted to have a website built for it – it is very likely that you have envisioned how you want it to look. It is not unusual for business owners to have brand imagery as part of their initial business conceptualization. And when you hire somebody to do things for you, it is expected for that person to take your vision on board. This is an important aspect when searching for a person to hire to do work for you. Not only will it give you an impression whether the candidate can meet your requirements but also, to determine if that person/entity holds the same standards you wish to uphold for your business.
Web developers know what they are doing. However, these developers should, at the very least, take the time to listen to your input – you are the customer after all. It might not be the best idea (or they may have other alternatives in mind) but to feel as if your input is not important is definitely a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. As a customer, you should always feel that you are the boss – not the other way around!
It pays to hire someone who sees things from the same perspective as you do. Nothing is more frustrating than to have somebody on your team who keeps on ignoring your requirements or worse, doing things THEIR way! So if you feel from the beginning that your web developer is too stubborn and refuse to take any instructions (not even from you) – end the contract immediately!
Fail to communicate often
Communication is the key to success. The same holds true for projects such as web development where communication is a crucial element in order to meet expectations or clarify requirements. Most web developers are good communicating especially during the initial stages of the project. However, just like in any form of relationship, a customer-client relationship should have thorough and open communication during the entire duration of the contract.
Professional and reliable web developers should not only communicate during the initial phase of the project (or worse, only at the time they are trying to get you sign for their services) – it should be an ongoing effort. Especially if milestones and delivery phases are in place for the website project, you should expect your web developer to send you updates on a regular basis. This should be a practice not only done when the project is looking good but most especially when things seem bad.
The moment you notice that your web developer doesn’t seem to communicate enough or fail to give you updates when you need them to – that is a red flag you should never ignore. When these things happen, be wary of the things your web developer could be hiding from you! You may try to discuss your expectation and give the warning to let your web developer know that you expect regular updates from them. And if they still fail to comply, then it is time to say goodbye.
Did not lay down the scope and TOS for the project
Terms of Service (or TOS) is outlining the scope of the web development project through a document. It should contain what is the expected result out of the contract and ideally, should be signed by both parties (customer and web developer). For the web developer, this seems like an additional effort to do. But in the end, it pays to have these written in a document for future reference. So when the time comes that things don’t seem to go well (or if the results look a bit different from expectation) – you have something to look into instead of digging emails or chat logs!
Ideally, the web developer prepares this document as per understanding of the requirements through discussions. Some clients may not require this documentation (depends on how you want the arrangement to proceed), but a diligent web developer would certainly do this for you without being told.
Skipped the planning/design phase and went to coding!
Every client is different. So if a web developer accepted your project to create the website for you, it is typical that he/she will gather the inputs based on data gathering sessions, meetings, and other mediums you provided. Information overload is expected but a diligent web developer should take down notes and create a design based on your “unique” requirement for the website – not go straight to coding!
If your web developer jumped straight to coding, it only means that he/she did not look at the bigger picture before creating the website for you. Sure, the end product will be a functional website but it is very likely to encounter performance issues. Not only that but going straight to coding can lead to a lot of changes in the end in case you didn’t like what has been coded so far. And as a result, rework will be necessary leading to a delay to your website launch.
Experienced web developers will more likely have created tons of “similar” websites such as yours – but it is wrong to assume that it is exactly the same. Because of this, a diligent web developer should always start the project with a design and submit to you for approval. This design can be a visual representation of the way he/she understood your requirements consisting of flowcharts and mock images for the layout. By doing this approach, you can have a high-level impression how the web developer plans to create your website. And in case you wanted some things changed, it is easier to do so at this stage.
Unaware of current tools in web development (ie SEO, social media etc)
When you decided to have a website for your business, it is very unlikely that you don’t have plans to let the world know about it – of course, you do! You don’t create something with the intention to keep it in the dark. And for a business owner like you, the only way to generate revenue from it is through the use of various tools to promote it. These days, it can be achieved through the ever-changing tactics making use of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) and social media marketing, just to name a few.
A reliable web developer should know of the latest tools and “techniques” to implement for your website to have bigger chances of getting the audience it needs. If your web developer is the best for you, that person should know of the latest plugins available in the market that will lead to higher conversion for your website. As a matter of fact, this idea should not come from you but as part of your developer’s planning/designing documentation. But in the event, it was missed and you have to ask about it – your developer should know of the topic immediately.
Milestones are delayed or not reached
Projects such as websites can be divided into multiple milestones for easier tracking and delivery. It is a nice way to be able to see tangible progress within a certain timeframe instead of waiting for the entire project to finish. Not only that but setting up milestones can also bridge the communication gap (if you have any) with your hired web developer. Consider milestone delivery as a catch-up chat with your developer to keep track of how things are progressing.
Delayed delivery of milestones is not unusual in any area of software development. However, consistently delayed delivery of milestones can greatly affect your plans for the business, too. Especially if you intend to use your website to sell merchandise or to offer services (ie restaurant reservations, car wash appointments), delayed delivery of your website can lead to you losing revenue. The waiting time for your developer to finish your website can be a frustrating event regardless if you are a small, medium, or big business owner!
There may be valid reasons why the delay occurred but most of the time; the reason could’ve been quickly addressed. This boils down to how efficient your web developer is at handling potential showstoppers and if he/she is attentive enough to find a quick way to get things addressed. The most frustrating thing to discover when a delay occurs is to find out the solution could’ve been identified if only the developer reached out to you to ask!
A couple of delayed milestone delivery in the project is easy to forgive but to have it on a regular basis is unacceptable. Especially if the timetable has been agreed upon at the initial part of the discussion, delays can make you feel as if your project is taken for granted. Depending on how much trouble the delay has caused your business, you may want to consider looking for a different professional to finish your website.
Thinks web development is all about the “looks”
When it comes to website development, it is very likely to come across individuals presenting themselves as developers but know nothing about web development (only web design). It probably stems from the fact that website development and design are separated by a very thin line so it is easy to get confused by these two concepts. It could’ve been unintentional, as they might’ve had prior related experience using a web development tool you intend to use for your website. But then, the exposure and experience they had could be so little – it is still technically wrong to consider themselves as web developers.
Experienced web developers would know on the onset that when the term “development” is used – there is a lot more to it than creating eye-catching background images and cute icons. Web developers who have a vast amount of experience in this niche would know that delivering a functional website is included in their scope of work. To safeguard you from getting into a contract with a “fake” web developer, make sure to ask a lot of questions on his/her experience in creating websites. Don’t content yourself when the person told you about tools he/she used but rather, keep on asking for the specifics! This will prevent you from hiring somebody who could’ve been just a website designer and knows nothing about the practical and technical aspect of website creation.
Loading time is too slow
When you hired somebody to create a website for you, it is for the ultimate purpose of gaining something from it. Whether to sell merchandise or to promote other services that you can offer, your website’s ultimate purpose is to attract network traffic. In effect, hiring someone to create a web page for you also means to have somebody to make sure that your website will turn out to something that people would like to visit. Not just once, but for so long as you are running it. And one of the things that should be properly implemented to your website to ensure this success is to make sure that loading time is not dragging slowly.
Your web developer may have been capable of delivering a “working” website for you but that person is certainly not the best if your website takes ages to load. In fact, a highly-skilled web developer will put loading time as one of the top priority when creating a website. Especially in this age where speed is important, your web developer should know that one of the things that decrease network traffic is due to a slow loading time.
Performance tuning and efficient code should be put in place to ensure that a website will not take a long time to display. And if your web developer is unable to deliver this to you, it is very likely that the website was created under really poor code structure or his/her lack of experience is to blame. You may give the chance for the developer to furnish the code (and do a tidy-up) but if performance is still an issue – get a better developer for the job!
You are not happy with ANY of the outputs!
If you didn’t ignore ANY of the red flags mentioned previously, you shouldn’t reach this part. But in case you did, this should be the final straw! As a customer, your main focus should be to have a website to help you with your business. And if your web developer is consistently letting you down, there is no reason left not to fire him/her to choose a different one!
If looking for a web developer to create your website, it pays to be mindful of these warning signs early on to avoid headaches in the future. The earlier you pay attention to any of these signs can minimize the risk of you losing precious time (and money!) as a result of choosing an inefficient person/company to create your website. Apart from reading reviews about the person/entity, trust your instincts the moment you feel that there is something wrong about the way the project is being managed. There is a big chance you could be right and ignoring any of these red flags can only mean disaster for your business.