In the age of online business, it’s hard to know which web developer has your best interest at heart. When you’re preparing to hand over your precious passwords, it can pay to do the research beforehand. With a lackluster website one wrong step away, I recommend you keep the following in mind:
- Ask for their professional references. If they can’t produce three satisfied customers, keep searching.
- Take a look at some of your favorite websites and reach out for the name of their developer.
- Trust your gut. It’s there for a reason.
Asking for References
When I pick a hairdresser, it’s usually because a friend recommended them. I firmly believe in asking for a second opinion. You’re allowed to ask for references; I am giving you permission. You’re not being nosy, you’re being selective. Your prospective web developer should have no problem giving you the names and email addresses of clients, especially since you plan on giving them your business’s passwords.
Good Sign: Glowing Reviews
Note the patterns. What good things are they all saying? I like hearing that their web developers listen and use the notes given to them. That speaks to me of their ability to respect my time and my business. This might be a good time to go over what you want to hear and make a list of questions to ask them.
Bad Sign: Nothing to Say
It’s a fact of life that when we’re directly confronted about someone we dislike, we play it safe. Rarely do I come out and say all the terrible things I hate about someone, unless they were awful or I didn’t eat lunch that day. These references will do the same. Look for the lack of details in what they say and if there’s any enthusiasm behind their words. When someone says “good” instead of “great”, they really mean “terrible”. We’re all just too polite to say otherwise.
Using Your Favorite Websites for Names
When you put your order for shrimp tacos online, do you marvel at the way check out is structured? Maybe marvel isn’t the right word, since you’re already distracted by the fish tacos. But when you talk about how easy that site was to use, remember it. Jot it down!
Reach out to those websites and ask for a name! They’ll be flattered you like it, and if you’re not a competitor, they’ll be happy to provide the developer who made it for them. After that, reach out!
Good Sign: The Web Developer Remembers the Site
I apologize in advance, this one’s a little bit of a no brainer. They work on the site and maintain it, of course they’ll remember it!
I take that as a green flag for trustworthiness. They’re proud of their work, take ownership in it, and have it on their mind. To me, that says they’ll do the same for my website.
Bad Sign: The Web Developer Doesn’t Remember the Site
Without looking it up.
Big red flag. They’re too busy with other work to keep track of it all, and it’s just another site to them. It makes me wonder what would happen if I hired that web developer. How much time would they be able to give me and how much extra money would I need to dump into their bank account to make sure I stayed a priority? Too much in my opinion.
So…Who Can I Really Trust?
You know the answer to this question. Your gut.
We’ve all seen horror movies, where we yell at the teenager not to go into the basement. When your gut is telling you something’s wrong or the ghost that haunts the house is taking too long to answer simple emails, get out of there.
You know what’s best for you. There are a thousand web developers out there who are happy to work with you. You lose nothing in walking away from a conversation. My freelance business is too important to take bad risks.
I wish there was some kind of radar that tells you when someone isn’t trustworthy. That would make my life much easier. However, you and your research are your own best bad web developer radar.
You know what a good website looks like and a great website looks like. And if you don’t, just look around.
Trust yourself and what you can learn.