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How to choose a web development partner

It's all about building relationships - and maintaining them

Adam D 7 July 2010

We find that clients these days are not just after a website.  The web is often such a crucial part of their strategy, that they can't afford to just hire in the skills once-off; they actually need to partner with a company and group of people that can join them on their business journey, for the long term.  It's about building a relationship, and then maintaining it.  And like all relationships, it needs to be built on trust and strong fundamentals.  Here are 4 things to consider:

1. Ensure you're confident in their abilities

Obviously, you need to check out their portfolio.  Often they won't have clients in your specific industry, which is no big deal - you just need to make sure they design beautiful work, are familiar with the technology they're using, and the sites they build are well presented and work well!  You should also speak to a couple of their key clients (3 or 4 if you can).  It's helpful if they at least deal with businesses of a similar size to yours also.

 

2. Are they likely to disappear off the face of the earth any time soon

Companies that have been around for a few years are more likely to be around for a few more.  The web industry is famous for having low barriers to entry - so many small businesses, or sole operators go out of business, creating huge problems for their clients  (For the record, about 20% of our new customers have come to us from this exact predicament!).  Do they have a solid team of professional staff members?  Decent office?  Do they charge enough?

3. Do you have a realistic price quote

If you get a quote that is considerably lower than the others it may be a sign of inexperience (they aren't familiar with what it takes to get a good site built, and so under quote). The project may then become contentious later, when the developer invests more time than budgeted, and are very hesitant to cater for any alterations - could also become expensive for you.   You should look to get a fixed price quote if you can, and ensure your proposal covers the important items you need.

4. Do you like them?

You need to be able to get along! Like any relationship, you need to understand each other, trust each other, and be able to rely on each other.  Do they respond when you email or call them? Do you enjoy dealing with them?  Can you get easy access to the company stakeholders or key staff members when you need to?  I know whenever I choose a supplier I often rely on my gut (it's not always right, but has served me fairly well over the years!)

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