What should you ask when hiring a freelancer or agency to build your site?

The key is to ask questions. Lots of questions.

01. What is the W3C?

The World Wide Web Consortium is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. It’s what web developers should aim to achieve with each build. We check our homework using the W3C validation service.

02. What is responsive design? What is your process on building responsive sites?

Responsive web design is an approach to web design that makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes. Bottom line. It’s mobile friendly.

03. What content management system (CMS) do you use? Is it proprietary or open source?

A content management system simply allows you to edit, control, and manage your digital website content. There are many CMS options on the market. “Open source” means it’s created and maintained by the developer community at large and is free to use. This frequently means there are more people that are familiar with it and how to use it. This drives development costs down.

Proprietary software is owned by a specific company and may be so custom that only the creators know how to work with it. Imagine buying a car with a new engine design that only one mechanic knows how to work on. It’s expensive and risky. You want the most widely adopted technology that gives you the functionality and support you need. When it comes to content management systems, for most small to medium sized businesses, that solution is WordPress.

04. Can you talk me through your design / development process?

Process is one of the most important aspects! Based on years of experience freelancing and working in-house with agencies, design shops, and startups our process is collaborative every step of the way. As a result, we have created a process that is seamless and agile throughout discovery, planning, design, development and overall execution.

05. Do you develop websites inhouse? If so, do you build your own custom themes?

There’s a big difference between designing and developing a website. Many times companies outsource development or use prebuilt themes to cut cost. Overseas development teams may or may not follow current web standards and in turn can negatively affect accessibility, site performance, and SEO ( search engine optimization ).

Beware of the PROS and CONS of prebuilt themes. These are meant to be a one-stop-shop targeting users who are tech savy but don’t know how to code. Consequently, the websites are heavily bloated with scripts, plugins, and can negatively impact things like load time and user experience.  One size fits doesn’t necessarily work with fashion and it’s the same with a website.