Choosing the right website development or design company is perhaps the most important step of your journey to having an online presence. This is because once you've hired a professional website developer, he can even correct any issues with the steps you've taken till now such as conceptualizing your web development project and detailing its requirement as well as allocating time and money for it.
A website development project is like a tango between two companies - you and your vendor, and it'll work out just fine if each of you coordinate properly. But before that, the right partner has to be chosen. And this is not just about negotiating the lowest price. It is about getting the right quality for right price in the right timeline.
But what is this 'right' ?
It may seem a term loosely used but strictly speaking when we talk of right quality, right price etc. we're talking about you getting what you paid for. No, it does not mean getting much more than what you're paying for because the truth is that many information technology, and by extension web development projects fail because of false/ exaggerated promises and cutting corners to save costs , or the so called 'cheap website development'
To know more about how much your website should cost, we've provided another article. But this is just one aspect of choosing the right partner. Yes, there is a checklist inspired by common sense which you can use to find the best web development company for your project and here it is :
1. Firstly create a project requirement document or project requirement sheet so that whenever you're discussing with a vendor you've a clear idea of what you need from them. It should mention clearly the functions and scope of the project. It is a good idea to ask your vendor to send you such a template (if they have) as it will create structured communication between the two of you.
2. Talk to your friends and colleagues about the companies / people they may have hired and what experience they had. However, remember that no two projects would be alike so do keep in mind what kind of project led to what experience.
3. Google and other search engines are ofcourse a good place to start. Searching with relavant key phrases for companies such as "sydney website development company" , if you're a sydney based business looking for a web development agency, will obviously help find some candidates.
4. Go through their websites once you've located such companies and see if they've portfolio, client list and ofcourse testimonials which seem to be promising. Another thing you may find is if there are any awards they've won or members of professional bodies. This may indicate the quality of their work and reputation in their field.
5. Do search if there are any negative views online regarding a company. This is important. Many people leave comments and reviews especially about the bigger web development agencies which give an idea of their experience and it'd be helpful to see in which situation did customers face issue with the firm. For examplle - you can type : complaints about ABC company. However 1-2 odd complaints about a company does not necessarily mean it is bad. IF it is dealing with 100's of clients a year , 1 or 2 complaints could be an exception or an unreasonable client. You will still gain from an insight into what the person/ company faced and what led to that situation, and hopefully avoid such a situation.
6. The proposal and the Response of the Company in my view is one of biggest factors i would consider. Because a large and well known company, even an award winning one may not necessarily treat you like its top client especially if you're a small company or have a small project to offer (in terms of what the vendor is handling). In such case, it might be that a smaller vendor who is professional can deliver more. Vendors across the spectrum can then be objectively judged on their proposal. Some of the following things to consider when looking at proposals and follow up of the vendor are:
a) Has he provided examples , links , websites which are similar in scope / functionality / look to yours and instill confidence to you ? As an example, your vendor may provide links of works done, graphic samples if it is a design heavy project, demo on test servers of web applications and also references. Some of these developers are also on freelancing websites such as guru having their portfolio organized with also reviews. It is not a bad idea to check these out.
Myths about what is the best web development company
1. A web development company which services the fortune 500 or large corporations is the best web development company for me.
Answer: Obviously not, because while such a company is very likely to be great in design and web development work and having professional talent, the costs may also be high and many such companies only take specialized or specific type of client profiles or work. So the best company depends not only on what the company is but what you want it for. It should be in your budget unless the website/web development is so critical or important that the budget can be stretched. Moreover a large web development organization which looks at fortune 500 clients may or may not give you the similar time and effort if you're a small or growing firm. This will of course be clear from the first 2-3 conversations , discussions.
2. A good web development (programming ) company cannot do good design and vica versa.
Answer: Sometimes you find self serving consultants advising you of hiring a 'specialist' web design company and an 'expert' web development company (i.e. programming company). With this obviously there is the chance of your cost rising. Secondly if two set of people are involved there would definitely be requirement of coordination , consultation and keeping pace with each other. A project can even fail if there are multiple vendors which have a clash of ideas, interest or style of working. It is therefore worthwhile to consider specialist providers only in large complex projects and/or where there is great stress on specific design aspects which'd need a specialist design firm.
3. This company is not able to provide many references although it is showing me good examples (verifiable) of work. Maybe i should not contact it further.
Answer: It is definitely good if a web development company is able to provide great references and examples of work but sometimes it may have one but not the other. This is not always a red flag. Sometimes web development companies work for larger creative and marketing firms and are bound by contractual terms to not contact the end clients. These firms may also frown on providing references in case of confidentiality, subcontracting issues. However if all in all your prospective web designer is able to showcase some good work which has been done by him (verifiable by site link or some other way) and he has one or two solid references, it is likely that you've the real deal.
4. If this web development company is asking me to sign agreement and asking for requirements etc. , its likely to be a hassle creator and totally avoidable.
Answer: You really thought so ? I mean the guys are trying to get a systematic list of the things you want noted down (so theres no: i didn't know this was needed', or 'when was this told') and you want to fire them for that. The guys want to you to transparently know in written what they're giving you and what you'll be paying them and you blame them for that ? Agreements are good, because they tell you in black and white what you're getting and what you're paying and when exactly. Even if its simply exchanged over the internet - it is good to have a terms of reference which you can refer to after 3-4 months if you're forgetting what was decided. Just be careful of agreements whose terms are unfair (but how'll you know that unless your web development company who provides you one :) ) .
5. Its an offshore company , i am likely to be provided worst quality work and lose money on excuses.
Answer: Yes, I know, you've been warned of those offshore companies. The ones where the guys almost always come up with an excuse on why the work is not on time and why they need some money meanwhile just to pass the time. But for every such story , their are 5 where the company went out of its way to provide a great service and delivered quality software at half the cost. That is why big fortune 500 corporations get a large quantity of their work done offshore from India, Philippines etc. I've worked via freelancing and other sites and for every client who avoided my company because it was offshore, there were those who came to me after a bad experience from a local company. The bottom line is, a company which acts professionally and is able to provide a clear road map of how they'll execute your project is likely to be a good vendor. And many offshore companies sweeten the deal by low or no upfront advance clauses (like us). If you're on a milestone based payment plan, you've little to worry about.
So, i hope this article on choosing the right web development company for your project was able to give you some tips and you shall be able to hire the perfect website developer for your projects. Feel free to write in for any queries or a free consultation regarding your project.