You’ve registered a domain and set up a hosting account with Namecheap, and now it’s time to build your website.
While we have lots of tools and support to help you do it yourself, we recognize that not everyone wants to do the design work themselves. If you decide to hire someone to do build your website, we’d like to help you choose the right person.
When you’re searching for the best website professional, here are some questions you can ask, and why the answers they give are important.
Do You Charge Hourly or by the Project?
The first step is finding out how much it will cost to build your website.
Hourly rates aren’t fair to the client (you). You have no idea how long the work will take. While it’s tempting to be dazzled by low hourly rates, remember that someone with a low rate might take twice as long as someone with a higher rate.
The bottom line: when discussing your project with a potential developer, ask for a firm number. Any reasonable web professional will be able to estimate the time a project will take, and multiply the time by their hourly rate to give you a figure that covers the entire project.
Do You Do All the Work Yourself?
It’s tempting to hire someone who handles everything themselves, as that seems cheaper and more efficient. But is it?
Inexperienced web professionals often work on all aspects of a project, including logo design, site design, custom functionality, and copywriting. The problem is, very few people can do all aspects of a website design well.
What Role Do You Play in the Project?
In the world of website production, there are designers and developers.
Designers are concerned with the look and feel. They obsess over the colors and impact the design will have on the website visitor. Great designers also understand the user experience. They consider how the user will get from landing on the page to the call to action, like a contact form or buying a product.
Developers dig into the code and the underlying functions. They code for different browsers, including mobile, and make sure popup boxes pop up. It doesn’t matter if something is blue or red as long as it works, and typically don’t concern themselves with user experience. They’re just there to make things work.
You want to make sure the person you’re considering hiring cares about the same things you do and has a plan to complete the entire project, including other professionals as the need arises.
How Will We Collaborate?
This part is about accountability and communication.
Good website professionals have a system and use project management software like Basecamp, Asana or Smartsheet to keep track of projects and keep you in the loop. Great professionals assign you tasks (writing copy, reviewing designs) with deadlines to make sure that there’s accountability on both sides.
When interviewing a potential developer, find out what their process looks like. Do they have regular points in the process where they will check in with you? Will they be available for questions? How often will they present their progress and ask for feedback?
How Do You Manage Deadlines?
With good project management, you should always know where the project stands and what every person (including yourself) is working on. Sometimes the web professional is waiting for something from you before they can move forward, but if they don’t have a good system in place, you might not realize it.
Having a clear set of milestones and tasks gives everyone visible accountability.
How Can I Make Updates?
Once your site is ready, most web professionals will hand it over to you like a brand new baby, and it’s up to you to keep your site updated.
Using software like WordPress to manage your site makes updates simple, but you need sufficient training to be able to make your own changes. Furthermore, if you’re using a WordPress, you’ll need to make sure your software and plugins get updated with new releases.
Ask how this process will work. Will your developer show you how to make your own changes to your site content? Do they offer a maintenance plan, or can they recommend someone who can assist with these things?
Who Controls the Domain and Hosting?
Your website presence should be a protected asset of your business. Be sure you register your own domain name and have your own hosting account separate from the person designing your site.
While a web developer may build your site on their own server, they should transfer it over to your own hosting service when the site is ready to go live. A developer should never hold hostage your passwords or site access for any reason.
Make an Informed Decision
With the answers to these questions, you’re on your way to making the right choice for your website. Knowing all of this information will also help keep your website project on budget and deadline.
By choosing the right professional, you can look forward to a great-looking website while ensuring you’re in control every step of the way.
And when considering your website’s domain and hosting, be sure to check out Namecheap’s extensive domain options, with hundreds of available top level domains, and different levels of hosting options. We have something to fit every website.
Chelle Honiker is the executive director of the Texas Freelance Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping independent workers start, grow and manage their freelance and gig work or businesses. She’s also the chief barista for the Revien Group, a caffeinated digital project management consulting firm.