6 Characteristics to help assess a website developer or designer on the Gold Coast, Queensland

6 Characteristics to help assess a website developer or designer on the Gold Coast, Queensland and their suitability to your Small business.

Developing and designing websites is a ferce business on the Gold Coast of Australia. There are literally over a thousand Web companies plus many freelancers enjoying coding and designing on the sunny GC. Without a doubt there is some great web talent on the Gold Coast. I would recommend anyone closely look at hiring from the Gold Coast before outsourcing offshore or when hiring out of state.

Hiring the right designer or developer can put your business on the correct path and improve your bottom line. However, how do you know it is going to be done correctly. Are you going to get a good website with nice user interface. Will it pull in traffic, generate leads, and convert visitors. Will the look and function follow how you want your company to appear online. In the end, all these processes will help your business be more profitable.

Whether you hire a large firm, small Co-op or freelance jack of all trades or a master can affect the overall cost and chance of success. So, before selecting a web development or design company in your town consider these factors.

1: Payment Options and Billing Procedures

There are a diverse range of developers on the Gold Coast. Means of payment should always be considered. Typically larger or more established firms have more flexible payment options. This should be a consideration. Yes you may pay a little more for the security of their infastructure, but you are probably less likely to have a late night phone call from your one man band developer begging you to pay on time or worse early so they can make their rent payment. Also if you need a little bit of extra time to pay, they are more likely to stay professional and give you some extra time or change the terms, because they are in a position too. Rather than having to get firm because they must.

Furthermore, before you start consider what types of terms for payment are available. Do they accept cash only? Will they accept a cheque? Can you make payments via EFT, B-Pay. Finding a company that can take payment via (Credit Card without extra fees), Paypal, Bitcoin even can add weight to their crediblity and give you more options to get more done on flexible terms and/or hire someone better.

Staged payments. Whether dealing with a big or small web professional this is completely normal. A deposit upward of 20% often as high as 50% for smaller projects is required. For some industries they may require payment in full or for it to be held in some type of esgrove/trust account. As a client however consider these aspects: Are you dealing with an individual who is asking for a substantial amount of money up front, for example, $50,000 50% for a 6 month project. What track record of larger projects do they have? Could they pay it back or part of it back if it goes bad? If this project is very involved would that be enough to suppport them financially for that period of time or will that individual also need to take on other projects to support them during that period (thats a very important thing to consider as a sanity check). I recommend staged payments for both parties. The reason being if things go bad the damaged will be less for everyone. Consider this though; do the staged payments neatly match completed part of the project, can you meet the payment deadlines and keep the project on track, are the stages set out equally and of equal value.

Most professionals will also have a contract. Not all contracts are equal. Take the time to read the contract and consider the provisions made if something goes wrong, who owns what at the end, any guarantees, exclusions, inclusions. Is the work considered original? Is stock artwork included and licenced? Is copy writing, proof reading included or client provided (which is normal).

2: Rates

Most web development and design professionals operate on a combination of fixed, floating and hourly rates. Development and coding repair especially are very dynamic and sometimes can't be quoted on a fixed rate. However you need to know what is fixed and what is not.

Some common practices:

  • Fixed rate, but based on a total of hours for a project. This means the project will be created on a fix rate. Unless you go over your hourly alotment. This clause is normally to stop excessive changes and revisions. Be mindful of this. It is not a trap normally to extract more money. The normal reason for this clause is to retain some profitablity in the transaction. After all we all need to make some profit. Otherwise they will go out of business, which helps no one long term. As a client, you need to be aware if a company has drastically under quoted hours to finish a job, compared to other companies and they have this clause they could come back with cap in hand for more money. You also need to be aware as a client the money and time in a build is finite on a fixed rate project. Making endless changes and revisions will only cost you overall. As what is spent on excessive revisions/change somewhere has to come from somewhere else. Don't be surprised if your asked for more money or your project is compromised elsewhere.

  • Hourly Rates, not all hourly rates are equal! Hiring a very work experienced and qualified coder at $65 or $120 per/hr can often be cheaper than hiring a recent graduate from Taffe at $20-25 per/hr. All things being equal you are more likely to get better work and finish from an experienced professional with a proven portfolio than gambling your money on someone unproven. Furthermore, not all developers and designers work rates are the same. Some developers, like me, can power through projects completing weeks of work in a day. Others take days to seemlying finish the simplest of tasks. Offshore outsourcing can often seem very attractive in regards to qualifications, portfolio and hourly rate. However all to often the output is far below that of a higher paid local web professional, so be warned on that trick.

    Experience can play a role here. I know for us we do price differently between tasks we have completed many times before, even when complex. Compared to tasks that are complete unknowns. A good professional will plan a complex project out first. Sometimes if the project is very complex/unique and large they will ask for the planning to be on a hourly rate, before they commit to any fixed rate.

  • Combinations Fix and hourly. As mentioned above. For larger projects or for more enterprise sized clients their will be a mix of rates. Typically hourly for the explority or planning stage and fixed for elements or all other parts. Sometimes there will also be hourly rate sections with in the fixed parts.

    3: Time-saving Technology

    Seasoned and professional web developing companies are committed to using time-saving technology and practises in all their projects. Often more established professionals have this equipment.

    Some examples:
    More powerful computers and licenced software. There are few free lunches in life. Good software will make you more efficent and often produce better results. If your professional is saving hours a day due to faster equipment and better software that is either savings passed onto you or more time finesing your project. This comes back to the old not all hourly rates are equal.

    It is common sense really. Will the professional of equal talent produce a better product faster working in an airconditioned office on a nice chair, with the latest high powered computer running the best licence software or will someone working on a beer crate, on a dirt floor in 40+ degree heat with a scrap PC running windows 98 do better. Both are on the same hourly rate who will be better value on average.

    Experience and man power can also play the same role. Someone or a company that has previous experience will more likely know the pit falls of a project they have completed before. They will then be able to manage those areas better and better over time. I can say after running a company that produces 30-40 sites every month for over 3+ years I have vastly more experience and skill with production than I did working on my own. Consequently our processes are very streamlined. very early on I realised staff have their specialties and having many staff allows you to place projects that best suit that team member for efficency and quality reasons. You can't do that type of management when you only have one developer or one designer.

    4: Portfolio

    While I'd agree you don't need to see work exactly the same as you want in a Gold Coast Web developer or designers portfolio. You do need to see types of businesses, calibre and complexity to what your looking for. Not every web developer keeps every site they have ever made online, we keep only the last 30-60 days online. However upon request they should be able to show you examples to suit or show the skills you require.

    While design is pretty straight forward, you like you hire it. Web development is a little different. It is very complex and comparsion can be difficult. Here are some basic tips;

  • Web designer normally doesn't have the coding skill of a developer (Senior Full Stack developer is the expert). A designer will normally work within a template or theme structure created by a developer. There expertise to create truely custom features and and modify things beyond the structure are often limited. (Some web designers hire coders like use to assist when needed, but sure you know before you start).
  • Web developers, can code most things from scratch, modify themes within their given skill set. The downside is often the coder is weak in design kills. Something important to know if you are highing just one person.
  • Full Stack developers code anything, but often have their preference and will often disclose, recommend or turn down work on that basis.

    Some basic types for analysising a portfolio:

  • Make sure the work is of a similar complexity (like for Like)
  • Check you are hiring someone who has worked with similar clients before (Enterprise, medical clients have very different requirements that Mum and Dad businesses)
  • If your looking at a website, check to make sure it isn't just a big picture.
  • Very important they have worked on similar sized projects with similar budgets.

    5: Communication Strategy

    How is the professional -> client communication normally handled. Do you need to meet the professional in person (beware this comes at a premium, just like with a lawyer). Are you comfortable with sky or phone. Can you communicate with them clearly and comfortable. The is especially important if the project is large. Are you happy to communicate via email.

    We do a lot of work via remote all around the world. I very rarely have issues with communication. However I do explain that after the first meeting (which is sometimes in person, but often not) most communication is done via email. We do of course talk to clients via skype and phone also. The thing to remember is make sure you know how this will be done from the outset. If you want to dictate all your content to your web developer you might be in trouble if he refuses and refers you back to your agreement. Like wise if you have to wave your hands around and point at an LCD screen make sure your professional is ok with that.

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    Senior Developer at Mebsites on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Mebsites is an acclaimed Magento and Custom Framework Web Software coding house.
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia Website