Hiring A Web Development Agency: 20 Devastating Mistakes

Sometimes hiring and working with a web development agency may be tough. Lots of unexpected troubles can be waiting to get you. It can turn into a prolonged headache or a scary nightmare. Believe it or not, the chance of facing the following problems is not that slim:

  • low quality solutions
  • missed deadlines
  • budget problems
  • malware

To help you avoid trouble, we compiled a list of the most popular and unpleasant mistakes people make while looking for web developers. Check the list and don`t get yourself in a trap.

We made a simple plan for every stage of hiring and working with a web dev company.

Before starting your research

Avoid these:

  • Failure to define strategic goals. First you need to work out the results you are expecting from a project to consider it a success. Is it branding only? Are you looking for new leads? Are you going to sell your product via website? Strategic goals have serious impact on approach to design, user experience and technical features. Circling out certain features, including an outer image of the product and all inner characteristics, is vital.

define-goals

  • Lack of defined features of a perfect contractor. Think about a couple of features that would make an agency perfect for you. Dig into your company values for inspiration. What kind of developers would you prefer – innovative or set on certain technology, skillful or quick learners, creative or disciplined? This list can go on forever.
  • Misunderstanding the difference between web design & web development. Do you have your goals figured out? They will help you realize, which of these you are looking for. Web design agency creates the look of your website, perception of your brand and, in some cases, how users interact with it. Web developers make it all work the way you want. They are responsible for technical part of the process. Some companies mix the two up and end up disappointed.
  • No approved budget. Be clear with the budget. Before even starting your research you need to have at least an approximate figure in mind. It will set certain limits that will help you filter contractors. And you will get a much more precise estimate and recommendations for the project.
  • Underestimating the importance of the right CMS. Your content management system is what keeps the project running. It can make your life easier or much tougher. In short, ready to use systems like WordPress are great for small projects without a long list of specific requirements. Otherwise, in a long run you are much better off with a custom CMS. Read more about it in our post on why custom Symfony CMS is great for your project.

During the research

Avoid these:

  • Too much attention to location. Remember, geography matters less. Don’t be much rude in the choose of a certain location. That`s a mistake that profound companies are concentrating in a certain place. Nowadays there appeared many web service providers in unexpected areas. Besides, Ukraine is one of them. Read our previous post about Ukraine`s IT outsourcing.

outsourcing

  • Not checking testimonials. Be suspicious, but don’t be paranoid. Read the testimonials and try to figure out how satisfied prior clients. Pay attention to pros and cons they list and compare them to the ones you wrote. BUT, don`t be too sceptic and paranoiac. Remember not every client likes to leave feedback, whether it`s good or bad. Be attentive if the company has only good feedback.
  • Not looking through a portfolio. Check whether an agency has done something similar to your project. Have they worked with companies from your industry? Do they have any relevant ready solutions? These would reduce the development time and get you a more reliable end product. These are the benefits of extensive testing on previous projects.
  • Giving a priority to big companies. That`s a myth, that a good provider is a large and popular one. Often smaller contractors would be a much better fit for you. Some of their cons can be: less paperwork, more attention to your project, more innovative staff.
  • Choosing the lowest prices. The low price shouldn`t be a major factor. Sometimes low price means bad quality. But remember – you should not compare local and foreign companies. Keep in mind economic, demographic and cultural differences. For example, rates Ukraine are always lower than in Western Europe or the US.
  • Paying no attention to a prolonged service of a web site. Constant tech support is a bonus feature of a good appreciative company. Having the company that developed your project support it is a nice benefit.
  • Making decision only after talking to sales. Sales managers are not the gurus of a web development process. Their goals don’t always go along with yours. Try to engage team leads or project managers. They’ve got the whole view of web dev process.
  • Getting an estimate from just one company. By this time, you should have a set budget, shortlist of contractors and some kind of vision based on your goals. It is time to get an estimate. Share your requirements with agencies on your shortlist. Use our checklist for the best outcome. Make an inquiry about how much the project would cost and how long it would take to finish.

requirements-checklist

After an agency is approved

Avoid these:

  • Ignoring a detailed contract. Or not having a contract at all. Yes, it happens. That`s a disastrous mistake. You don’t want to deprive yourself of written down terms, deadlines and other important details. You should have that sheet of paper, providing you with legal rights. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what the contract may look like, here are some templates just to give you an idea.
  • Favor design at the expense of usability. We are sure it`s clear for you. Still, not everybody understands that first of all your website has to be easy to use and navigate, simple to access and interact. So, be ready to state this fact to a company, you`re hiring. Except for branding focused projects, of course.
  • Putting off analytics and API integration. Pointed out these issues at the early stages. The more data you need to track the more work goes into it. Tell your contractor about your analytics requirements at the very start and they will be able to provide the best outcome. The same goes for third party integrations.
  • Lack of communication with the agency. Note that it`s your aim to get a quality product within a certain timeline. So you should not ignore communication. Your contractor must understand that being involved is important to you. Agree on a certain number of project stages and update frequency. The former will give you an opportunity to make changes before it’s too late. The latter will keep you in the loop. Most importantly, both are great time and money savers.

communication

Finishing a project

Avoid these:

  • Not reviewing the end product. It`s your choice whether to check it thoroughly or not. But we recommend you to do it with utmost attention. At this stage you still have an opportunity to get problems or unfinished issues fixed. After you accept the project and sign the according documents, you should be ready to pay extra for any revisions.
  • Lack of manuals and documentation. It is particularly important for projects with custom developed features, design and backend. Some companies even provide classes for customer’s employees or offer support. The latter is usually limited but should still be enough to sort out possible problems and questions.
  • Forgetting about the project after accepting it. Remember the goals from the beginning of this post? We doubt you achieve them with just the website or app. Go on working towards them.

Conclusion

At first sight finding a good web development agency may seem easy. But, looking deeply in the matter, it turns out to be a tough choice. Be precise in what you want, scrupulous in optioning and thorough in checking.

Pretty long post, isn`t it? But it is all based on our real experience, mistakes and certain projects. Thus we`re sure, you`ll be pleased with all the advice we gave you here.

P. S. Don`t forget to leave feedback to your contractor. Let other people know about your experience. Besides, it helps us become better.

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