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What to do Before Hiring a Developer

Cara Zebrowski

4 min read

The time has come. Your website needs to spread its proverbial wings and fly far, far away into the world that is Outside Help. It’s time for you too to make that leap into finding someone who can help make your website look and run exactly how you see it in your head.

In my time working in the world of web development, I’ve noticed certain topics come up again and again when I respond to someone who is looking for website help. So, to help make the process easier, I’m including some of the to do’s that make life easier as you find a developer to bring your site to life.

Figure Out Your Budget

I can’t stress how important it is to know your budget. What can you afford? It’s great to have caviar tastes, but you shouldn’t plan for caviar when your budget is more of the canned tuna variety, even if it’s the fancy kind packed in olive oil. Know your budget so you and a developer can devise a plan that won’t cause you to sell worldly possessions.

This also leads to another important part of the financial process, which is knowing where and how payment is made. Do you need to pay a retainer? Is there an hourly rate, or a fixed rate? Do you need a PO or an invoice? Where are you making payments? How can you acquire records of those payments? Which brings me to an extremely important topic . . .

Get an Estimate

Agree to what needs to be done to your site, and for how much before you hire someone. Going in without a price point can lead to a project spiraling out of control, or even worse, someone overcharging you. An estimate won’t just provide you with pricing. It also includes a breakdown of tasks to be completed, and the amount of time needed to complete each task. Then, if any portion of your project does run over, you can see where, and receive an in depth explanation as to why.

Find Reference Sites

What’s your website’s aesthetic? Is there a certain look or feel to a site that you like? Do you ever visit someone’s website because you like the layout? Having a few references can help you find a developer faster, or help establish clearer goals for someone to keep in mind.

Establish Communication

Who are you talking to when you discuss your website? When are you talking to them? How are you talking to them? Knowing all of this before you start reduces communication and miscommunication. If you’re emailing a developer, and they typically respond via Slack, for example, there’s bound to be a disconnect, and missed messages. Establishing where you’ll communicate will keep this from happening. Are you talking with the developer assigned to your website, or are you talking to a project manager? Or are you talking to someone else altogether? How often are you talking with each other? Do you have a regular meeting scheduled, or are you speaking with them on an as needed basis? Keep in mind that too much communication is better than none at all. Confirming where and how you’ll communicate is also helpful for your records. If you have a single source of communication, especially written communication, it’s much easier to manage tasks, goals, and deadlines. In addition, keeping everything written down as an actual record of everything minimizes any confusion.

Have a Punch List

A punch list is a list of tasks you need accomplished before a project is completed. Having a punch list, or a wish list of tasks for a developer will again determine multiple tasks that need to be prioritized, and gives a developer some direction for best tackling your project. Knowing what you want or need for your website makes hiring a developer with the skill set you need faster, and leads to fewer headaches.

Still Lost?

It’s okay to feel slightly overwhelmed during this process. Finding the right developer can take time, and a little bit of searching. Asking for recommendations can help make the process easier. Having at least a few of the aforementioned decisions in place will help you find a developer as well. But doing your research, knowing what you need, and what you can afford will make hiring the right developer a success.

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