What to Ask a Website Developer

Questions for Website Developer

When I talk with clients for the first time they often say, “I’m just not sure what to ask you.” I get it. Most of my clients don’t have a technical background.  Also, they’d much rather be working on anything else other than their website. So here are some tips for the first meeting with your potential website developer.

First Step – Give them Some Background

No one expects you to be a website guru. If you were, you wouldn’t need to hire a website developer! However, there is some basic information that would be useful to your new website person. Don’t stress over what you don’t know.  Just put together what you can easily figure out.

If you already have a website:

  • What’s your domain name?
  • Does your site have an online shopping cart, email list or other features?
  • Does your site use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla?  If you don’t know, this CMS detector may help you figure it out.
  • Where is your site being hosted?  If you don’t know this hosting detector may help.
  • What is it that you want the developer to do?  Is it a website overhaul or maintenance?  Do you need help now or are you just trying to establish service for future needs?

If you’re starting a new website:

You’ll want to spend some time thinking about what features you’d like your site to have.  It often helps to look at competitors’ websites to get ideas.  You’ll also want to have a budget in mind.

General Questions to Ask a Website Developer

  • Based on what I’ve told you, do you think you’d be a good fit for this project? Have you done other websites like mine? There are a lot of different skills that go into making a website.  Some of the tasks are writing code, graphic design, search engine optimization and project planning. Not every developer will be a good fit for the tasks associated with your project.
  • Do you do all the website work or are other people going to be working on my site? Having multiple people work on your site can be a good thing.  It may help your developer stay on schedule.  It’s also possible that the person you’re talking to may work on some aspects of your site, while a specialist handles others. It’s just good for you to know before the work starts.
  • Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How long have you been working on websites? In addition to learning about this person’s history, you’ll want to pay attention to their communication style.  Is this someone that you think you can work with?
  • Is this your primary occupation or do you work on websites part-time?  I’ve heard horror stories about part-time developers.  Some are fine, but others leave mid-project to work at their primary career.
  • What’s your rate? My advice is to stay away from individuals or companies that charge you a monthly maintenance fee.  It’s best to find someone that will charge you by the hour.
  • I’d like some references.  Can I have the contact information of some of your clients? Never be afraid to ask for references.

Starting a New Website? Here are Some Additional Questions to Ask.

  • What website host to you recommend? Take a look at the hosting this person recommends. If they say they provide hosting, ask for another option. As a business owner you need to have domain name registration and hosting in your name.  Your website is an important business asset and it needs to be under your control.
  • Do you provide maintenance after the site is launched? Some developers specialize in launching websites, but don’t offer maintenance after that point. You’ll want to find a company that will work with you and your site over time.
  • Will my website be mobile friendly? The answer has to be “yes”. If not, walk away.

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