As a start-up entrepreneur, I often come across fellow impresarios, struggling hard to decide whether they need professional help at every stage of business, or should they handle the leg-work themselves. Well, there is no straight answer to this. Depending on how much work you need at which stage of your venture, you have to hire a professional for the respective job. But let’s start with the start. Your business, no matter what you are selling, needs a store. And ever since businesses moved online, the brick and mortar shop has assumed a virtual selling place, which we have known all these years as the ‘Brand Website’. Your brand/company website is the first place your customers land at, to see what you are selling, how you run your show, and whether your offering will solve their needs and problems. This is where a professional web developer plays an important role in setting up your shop.
Isn’t that what web designers do, you might wonder. I had the same question when I was hiring a web developer to create a website. The answer is no! One of the web developers I talked to explained me the difference. She said: Ask yourself this, would you hire a painting contractor to take care of lighting, signage and store layout? Or would you rather seek the help of an architect who has the right sense of aesthetics and a comprehensive approach to the project as a whole? It’s best to opt for the latter.
Reasons for hiring a web developer:
Some people don’t find it necessary to work with a professional web developer to create a website. It was the same with me. I tried creating the website using a software online but I realised it is important to work with someone who has experience doing the same. These are the key reasons, why you should invest in a web developer too:
Your brand’s first look needs to be perfect
Your website is the ‘first impression’ of you and your brand on your target audience. It is where your audience visits you, interacts with your product/service, and it is the core of any online business. If a major part of your business happens online and you are aiming to grow rapidly, you will need a professional who can take care of your website and help you create that perfect first impression for your brand.
An expert opinion will help
More often than not, we tend to get too cagey about our brands and thus develop a blind-spot on our thinking. I remember when I was working on my website, I was so focused on what I wanted to create, I just forgot to ask myself if that is something my audience wanted. In such a situation, seeking inputs from a third person is immensely helpful. Expert web developers have the right know-how of what works and what doesn’t, so your website gets the deserved mileage.
Delegation is smarter
Let’s admit it, running your own enterprise is a mammoth task in itself. From operations, logistics, to crisis management and analyses, there’s an endless list of tasks to be taken care of. And adding a simple yet important element like website development just makes it more cumbersome. Initially, I had been very sceptical about hiring someone to take care of my baby. So I gave designing my website a shot. After spending two months on ready-to-use online tools, sleepless nights, and no output, I realized, I should rather utilize that time and energy for building the business, and leave the task of creating a website to a person best fit for the job.
It is not just coding
The role of a web developer goes beyond keying in codes and working on style sheets. Just like an architect understands why a certain area of the store needs more light than others, how the aisles need to be placed, and which items need to be displayed where, similarly, a web developer understands what needs to be where on your website, and how you can showcase and emphasize your key products and information.
They also ensure that your site is in sync with latest trends, is SEO friendly, while also checking the safety measures of your website, in order to prevent hacking and breaching.
The job of a website developer doesn’t quite end at building the website but extends to maintaining the construction as your business evolves over time.
Who should you hire?
Even though I was firm on my decision to hire a professional web developer, as a start-up entrepreneur, I had my limitations of time, budget and resources, which brought me to my main point of contention – whom should I hire for this task? Should I talk to my best friend who knows a couple of web designers and developers? Or should I simply explore social media pages like Facebook and hunt for a freelancer? Surprisingly, I did both.
My friend’s friend turned out to be an amateur, who was just learning the tropes of building a website. He had the fire to give his best, but unfortunately, lacked the skills and vision that I needed for my brand. And the ones advertising on Facebook groups appeared to be novices or fakes, who displayed fake work as past experiences.
That is when I started doing my research on hiring a web developer. With opinions and feedback from other entrepreneurs, I learned that freelance professionals are the best fit for start-ups like mine.
Not only do they have the knowledge and expertise a newbie brand needs, but they also dedicate the much-needed time and attention, since they work independently and understand the value of time.
After ample trial and error, I went back to the drawing board and decided to reinitiate my search for a relevant web developer. That is when InstaTaskers came to rescue. They connected me with web developers that were relevant to my business.
Things to Remember before Hiring Web Developers:
But, before you seal the deal with your chosen web developer, you need to do your own groundwork and have answers to a few pertinent questions.
I have summarised the top tips for you to remember:
Make a list of qualities that you are seeking in your hire
Apart from the professional skill-sets, and a robust portfolio of work, you would also expect the person to have a sense of responsibility, timeliness and professionalism. That is where an experienced web developer fares better than a novice. It not only lets you hand-over complete responsibility, without hesitation but also helps you save time. Other than this, you might also want some other skills in your web developer such as specific knowledge of your industry. Making a list of qualities will help you identify the right person.
Research and find out what kind of developer you need
There are front-end developers, who are responsible for the user experience of your website and then there are back-end developers who do the actual programming needed to set up the entire construction and keep the site functioning smoothly. There are also web teams which allows you to hire a group of web experts with respective skillsets. Find out what kind of web developer you should be hiring.
Decide on a budget
Before you approach your web developer, you need to know how much you can write off against this project. Websites, as I learnt, can range from four figures to six figures. And as start-ups, we understand the challenge of a strict budget.
It is advised to share your budget with your prospective hire, in advance and understand what you can get for that amount of money.
You might need your website up and running in a 30-days time but is it a viable time frame to generate an exceptional end result? Get an understanding of the project timeline and its phases from your developer. Set deadlines but don’t be rigid.
Your contribution to the project
This is indeed an important part of the whole game. Do you want to be involved at every stage of the construction or do you want a phase-by-phase update? Do you have all the resources ready for the developer or do you need him/her to add their inputs? Understanding your contribution is important and helps the web developers.
As a parting note…
Once, you have a clarity on all the what, why, when, where, and how of hiring your web developer, or whom I call “website partner”, it’s time to seal the deal. It’s important for any brand owner to know that communication and clear so, is the key to getting the expected output from a freelance website developer. Whether you work on the same premise, or remotely, it is essential that there is a flow of open messaging between the two of you, even if it gets uncomfortable at times. Think of it as describing a picture, verbally. Because your own brand site is nothing but a visual representation of your big idea that you would be sharing with the rest of the world. And it all starts with hiring web developer.