Having been through the redesign of Tamebay earlier this year I was interested to read on eSeller their post “Four questions to ask your developer“, these are the questions that will cost you money if you get them wrong. eSeller was created by the team behind InternetRetailing – Mark Pigou of Screenevents, Ian Jindal and St John Patrick Publishers limited – plus eSeller Editor, Dan Matthews. If eSeller isn’t on your reading list it’s definitely a site you should be reading.
Four questions to ask your developer
1. Who owns the finished code?
There’s no good having a great new site and finding out that the code is still owned by the developer. It means you’re tied to them for support and makes it almost impossible for a third party to make future changes to the site for you. Often even if a website is open source software your developer will have written plugins or adapted the code and ideally you want to own it.
Sometimes developers may charge more for you to own the code, but it’s definitely an advantage to do so. Also from a personal viewpoint I like dealing with companies that don’t try to lock me in – I want to work with a company who give me the freedom to leave them if I’m not happy as then I know they’ll be working even harder to give great service.
2. Does your fee include support?
This was key for the redevelopment of Tamebay. We wanted to know that not only would we get a great looking site, but that the guys at wearejh who developed it would be still around to support us in the future. We’ve got support with them at least into the early part of 2013 and they’ve regularly been updating Tamebay and installing some tweaks, some of which were suggested by Tamebay readers.
More importantly if your contract doesn’t include a couple of hours ongoing support each month make sure you know what the hourly support rate is and that you’re happy with it before paying out thousands for the website in the first place.
3. Which browser will the website work best on?
Yes we know that your new site should work in all browsers, but were you aware that the most popular browser is now Google Chrome? What do your stats say for browser usage, for instance if your site was aimed at Apple users you may have a significantly skewed user base that uses Safari in which case you’d want to make sure that your site displayed best on iPhones and iPads.
4. Will the site depend on technologies such as Java or Flash?
You really want your developer to say “No” to this question for new websites. Some people won’t be able to view the parts of your site coded with Java of Flash and definitely not users on Apple devices. If you site is coded in Flash make sure your developer also builds HTML compliant code and avoid Flash which isn’t great for SEO purposes. If you’re paying for a new site it should aim to be fully HTML5 compliant.
There are a myraid of other questions you’ll probably want to ask your developers before signing on the dotted line for a new website, like (what will it cost and will there be a mobile friendly version), but these four questions are often missed and are some of the ones you could regret the most if you leave them unanswered.