Is Your Web Developer a Cowboy?

What do you think of your web developer?

Over the last few years we have quietly, but at every opportunity, been asking this question to business owners, marketing directors and executives responsible for their company website whether for commissioning, developing or maintaining their online presence. We also asked if they were happy with the website that the developer had provided, or if they thought it was bringing tangible benefit to their business. The responses were sharply divided. It seems that the businesses’ experience of Web developers is like Marmite: you either love them or hate them.

Shockingly, over 80% of respondents reported a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ experience of working with a website developer or designer. Many made comments that were very uncomplimentary toward their web developers. Some stated that they felt they had been, “Taken for a ride,” by those who had either baffled them with technology and jargon, or had – deliberately or otherwise – raised their expectations beyond what was feasible with the investment they were making. One had invested tens of thousands with a web development company to build an online presence for their business and now has a website that not only makes no contribution to any business objective, neither has it produced a single enquiry. The overall impression that we gained from our research to date and a term used by more than one unhappy respondent was that web developers are: “A load of cowboys.”

These poor experiences have a knock-on effect, not just for those who have been unhappy with their outcomes but for the web development and internet marketing industries as a whole. It results in an increased conviction that all web developers were likely to be the same, and that there was no-one out there who could be trusted. In addition, the inclination to invest any further resources and capital on online promotion of their business was greatly reduced. “We’ve done that and it didn’t work,” was a common response.

What do the web developers have to say?

To balance the picture we also surveyed web developers and web design companies to see if we could identify what had created this tale of woe from businesses.

Many were unaware of the situation and some were quite frank in their derision of business owners. Common responses included

  • “They don’t know what they are doing,”
  • “We’re not telepathic you know!”
  • “They don’t understand what is involved.”
  • “We never get the right information.”
  • “They keep changing their minds, often before the previous changes are completed.”

Each side seemed to blame the other for what might be interpreted as a straightforward breakdown in communication.

So why does this happen? There are no doubt numerous reasons, but focusing on the communication issue, we asked the web developers if they ever asked for, or received, a web design brief from their clients. The majority response was: “Rarely!” The design briefs received mostly consisted of a single page of vague information that lacked the detail and specifics required. Although they usually included requests for things that far exceeded the budget or amount the business owner was willing to spend and were full of wish lists and ‘good’ ideas that require bespoke development or even new technology (for the words ‘bespoke’ and ‘new’, read – interchangeably – ‘difficult’ and ‘expensive’)!

So whose job is it?

Isn’t it part of the web developers’ job to write the brief? Actually, no it isn’t, it is the responsibility of the business owner to communicate their requirements, their goals, their current situation and future plans. After all, as more than one developer pointed out, “We’re are not telepathic you know!”

In addition, the pressure of trying to keep a small web development business running (let alone in profit) in this ever increasingly competitive industry means that there is no time or other resources to be teaching the business owner how to write a web design brief, even though it would create a better outcome for everyone. For the majority of situations, there is often no clear or effective communication, more a case of asking questions of the business owner – which they often don’t understand clearly, which is no-ones fault – to get some sort of outline and then on with the job of designing and building the website.

Our experience – Web developer

Our experience indicates that the majority of web developers really want to do the best job they can for their clients.

They have the skills and knowledge to build websites that could work for their clients’ businesses. They have the equipment and resources to carry out the work. We also observe however that there are web developers who mistake the functionality of the software that they use for their own creative skills. Ultimately over a period of more than a decade we have encountered very few who would deliberately, “Take their client for a ride,” as some businesses have claimed.

Our experience – Businesses

Websites for businesses create a particular quandary for the business owner, manager or similar. There seems to be a huge barrier of technology and jargon to break through to be able to even speak the same language as the web development world. In addition, it is very difficult for anyone without extended experience to make any kind of value judgement about what is good or bad. Consider a different situation: whether you eat in a restaurant often or not, because you do eat every day, if you go into a restaurant, it is possible to make some kind of judgement as to whether you had a good experience, whether the food was good, whether the service was acceptable or excellent. Of course this is subjective to your own preferences and experiences, but at least you understand what a restaurant is, what it is supposed to do or be for and so on.

In our survey we ask a further question of businesses: “What is your website for, why did you get a website?” Very few offered any kind of clear response, the most common being: “Because we needed a website,” or “Because our competitors had one.” We also hear: “To generate sales/leads/enquiries etc.” quite often, which is at least focused on business, but is nowhere near specific enough to be called an objective.

If it is not common for businesses to even understand what the website is for, or why they are getting one developed, how can it be possible for them to make a judgment on what is good or bad, other than it produces no results. Even this judgement requires something to measure the results – or lack thereof – against.

Management by abdication

In so many cases the business abdicates responsibility for the website to a web developer in the mistaken belief that ‘they know best’. While the web developer knows about websites, they are likely to know little or nothing about the client’s business and even less about the customers who will use the website. Together with the lack of communication between the web developer and the business owner it is not difficult to see why so many websites are poorly designed, deliver bad user experiences and ultimately poor or no results for the business.

Is there a solution

The first step to a solution is to address the communication problem. It is clear that there must be effective communication and the first stage of this would normally take the form of a clear and concise website design brief.

The website design brief

The last time we reported on web design briefs we had surveyed 57 web development companies, further surveying has now brought this number to nearly 100. While everyone does it slightly differently, they all had information requirements in common.

Remember that:

  • The document needs to be clear and concise,
  • The document is prepared for someone outside your business who doesn’t necessarily know anything about your business or industry. Even if they claim to have worked in your industry before, unless they are specialists, then you should assume nothing.

Its purpose is to state clearly your requirements, including:

  • A profile of your business, its existing image, brand and products or other offerings including future plans
  • The objectives of the site – stated clearly in terms that can be measured, not woolly ‘to generate enquiries’ or similar, think detail and be specific.
  • The target market – who will be the users of the site, what will be their requirements?
  • Functionality requirements – often expressed as an outline, and as a business owner you may not be able to describe this well, but for example, do you require online payments and if so are you already accepting credit cards in your business. – remember, adding functionality usually increases cost far more than increasing the number of pages in the site.
  • The scale and scope of the development project – how big, how many pages, who will provide what and so on.
  • What are the project constraints, budget, timescale etc.

This document is not a wish list (although you could include things that you would like to do as well as but not instead of the above), it is the document that the developer works to and effectively forms part of your contract with them and is therefore subject to discussion and revision before being finalised.

In conclusion

The commissioning of a website is a much bigger project than appears at the beginning. Websites are not ‘job-and-finish’ projects. You need to form a good relationship with your web developer because you will be working with them for a long time, and the first step to a successful relationship is sorting out the communication. It is your business, if you have articulated clearly what you want, why your business needs it, and provided all the information the developer requires including realistic expectations, budgets and timescales then if it isn’t delivered to the brief then you can blame the web developer. Otherwise accept that it is your problem, not their fault that they are not telepathic.

Furthermore, you need to take responsibility for the project, but also recognise that the development of a website is a team game, not something to be simply handed over and then moaned about when it was not quite what you were thinking of.

Last word

If you are serious about selling online or using the internet to promote your business it is important to recognise that you need to make a considerable investment of time and effort or you might as well take your money and simply thrown up in the air!

Why You Should Not Do Freelance Web Development or Design – Suggestions of a Web Development Company

This is a letter of suggestion for all freelance web developers on behalf of Web Development companies in India. Freelance web designing or web application development is good to earn an extra income for you but it has various adverse effects on the economy in India. The following effects can ruin India from various aspects.

1. Freelance Web Designers are independent so they are charging very cheap rates for web designing; this brings down the market rates of the same work. Web application Development companies cannot beat the rates offered by freelancers. Ultimately a new company could die prematurely or cannot survive longer. County loses a business unit and development of business stops.

2. Freelancers work on projects to earn extra income, but they are hardly interested to pay taxes on it, so they ask for payment through various alternate methods, such methods are cash payments. Freelancers do not pay taxes on cash income. The country like India loses the tax income, if it would have been web Development Company, they would have paid taxes on income.

3. An Individual web developer works for money and not for reputation, so if the web application project of client fails, they are not responsible but the receiving client gets the bad impression of Indian web development industry. Sometimes overseas clients never return because of one bad experience with freelance web developers.

4. A lot of freelance web developers are not even experienced when they start offering their service to the overseas clients. The client believes that India is very cheap so project is assigned to inexperienced freelancers. Finally a Web Application developed by Freelance Web Developer is either a crap or unstable, otherwise a web development company could have made a good experience for client.

5. A Web Development Company establishes a business unit and they expect honest developers in the company. If you are a freelance web developer and still working with a company, then you are trying to cheat your current company that pays for your livelihood.

So if you want to help India, your own country, then leave freelancing and work for a good web company or if you are entrepreneur, then start a new web application development company.

How to Choose the Right Web Development Agency

In these days, people cannot imagine a business without digital marketing. Each and every business organization has its own website for their digital marketing. It is highly important to get the right website for your business. To get a proper website and online reputation, you have to get in touch with a good and efficient website development company who can rightly look after the development work of your commercial website.

There are many website development companies in the market but all are not authentic. You have to find out the most authentic and proficient one for your purpose. Here are a few things that you have to consider when choosing a website development company.

Gather Information:

When you start researching on the topic of website development companies, you will get to know innumerable names in your locality. Before stepping into the world of web development, you have to make yourself knowledgeable on the basis of digital marketing tricks.

Find Out Few Authentic Website Development Agencies:

From those many companies you have to choose few names on the basis of their official websites. Browse them and see if they are authentic or not. You can take help from your expert friends.

Pick The One Which Matches With Your Requirement:

From those few efficient companies, you now have to choose the most prominent one. Try to choose the one that matches perfectly with your criteria of website development. You can directly contact with the administrators of those companies and ask if they are capable of your project or not. Then choose the one who agree to complete your project with proper skill and ability.

Check Out The Skill:

Browse their official website thoroughly and know if they are fully authentic or not. Make sure that they use all the white hat technologies to develop your company’s online reputation. You can check their testimonial page to make sure about their skill. There you will find various types of responses by their clients. Make sure that all are positive responses. It will help you to make sure about their skills.

Plan A Proper Budget:

Mae sure that the company you have chosen is offering you a budget friendly deal for your website development project. Choose a company who do not demand high pay for development. Choose the one that matches with your criteria.

To ensure a good online reputation a good web development work is vital. So start your venture to make a deal with the most authentic and proficient website Development Company.

PHP As The Best Web Development Language

Developers can choose from many scripting languages while developing web applications. Some of the programming languages that developers use commonly are CGI, Perl, ASP and PHP. However, PHP has certain benefits due to which it has become the most popular web development language. IT companies ranging from small to big are using PHP for creating different types of web applications. One can realize the efficiency of the language from the fact that huge applications like Facebook use PHP. Web developers having knowledge and experience in PHP are in high demand in the present times.

Developers are choosing PHP over the other languages due to the following reasons.

Easy to Learn and Simple

The language is easier to grasp than many other programming languages. This is because the language has similarity with languages like Java and C. Even if you know only HTML, learning PHP would be quite easy for you. The language is ideal for beginners since it is easy to understand and clear.

Freedom

PHP offers a higher level of freedom as compared to languages like ASP. NET. The language is an open source. You can use any text editor to write the code. Some of the common text editors which you can use are Notepad, Bluefish, Emacs. On the other hand, while using ASP. NET, you can only use Microsoft Visual Studio for creating the code. PHP is also not OS specific. PHP runs well on operating systems like UNIX, Windows and Linux.

Automatic Refreshment

The language creates dynamic websites that refresh automatically. If you use PHP for developing a website, you do not need to make any changes manually for refreshing it.

Integration:

The language has created more than 30% of the applications present in the World Wide Web. The language integrates with various systems like Pusher. Almost every industry is using the language including large corporations, government, hospitals and banks.

Frameworks

You can find a large number of PHP frameworks. These frameworks help you to carry out a variety of tasks using PHP. You can do tasks like code reuse, session management and finding database libraries easily using PHP frameworks. A popular PHP framework is Slim.

Support

You can find support and documentation for PHP quite easily. The support coming with the language is completely free. You can find many blogs and forums online to help you if you face any coding problem. You can also find support through social media. Among all scripting languages, the user base of PHP is largest. This is one of the reasons behind such a huge support community of the language.

Easy to Solve Problems

Web developers face programming problems very often. In case of PHP, you can easily find the issues and fix them. In case of other languages, you cannot fix problems that easily.

Object Oriented

The language is capable of calling Windows and Java COM objects. You can also create custom classes. Other classes can borrow from custom classes. This increases the efficiency of the language.

These are the major advantages of PHP over other scripting languages. Besides, the language is an open source and free. Applications developed using PHP are very fast and have a high level of security. All these factors have made the language highly popular in the word of web development.

10 Essential Tips on How to Select the Right Web Development Company For You

If you want your business website to be rendered with an updated look, it is essential to select the apt web development company which would be able to perform this task proficiently. After all, an updated website would be far more beneficial for you, as far as your business is concerned.

There are certain tips which must be adhered to, when you are in the process of selecting an apt web development firm which is capable of performing the task of modernizing your company’s website.

  • In the first instance, it is essential to be on the lookout for a contact address. Most of the time, the web development firms display inadequate information like a contact form which is exhibited on their website, following which they proffer no additional means to get in touch with them such as a contact number or else an address. Remember that a professional web company which is staid about retaining its prevalent customers as well as procuring new customers would never attempt to conceal their location. Rather, they would ensure ways and means which would make it simpler for people to get in touch with them.
  • It is also best to steer clear of a company which does not have a pertinent portfolio which has been prominently displayed on the website, as this could be due to the fact that they are either a novice in the sphere of web development, or else they do not have many contented customers. In case a web development firm does render its portfolio online, it is advisable to assess it and subsequently get in touch with the displayed sites to procure an opinion pertaining to the web development company’s services
  • Always ensure that you procure a signed contract with the web company whose services you wish to avail, which clearly states the requirements from both sides. This is vital as it is evidence which can be utilized during incongruities.
  • Prior to entrusting the task of major projects to them, ascertain that the company whose services you wish to avail is capable of adeptly maneuvering communication, updates in addition to your criticism. You can do this by entrusting them with the responsibility of completing small projects initially after which you can move on to larger projects, if you ascertain that they are capable enough.
  • A Reputed web development company would charge a substantial sum for handling your project. This is necessitated as they have a proficient workforce which manages the project. If they charge a lesser amount, you can be sure that they would compromise on quality.
  • You can also utilize the social networking sites to select the web development company which is ideal for your requirements. This is perfect as you can state your requirements, following which you can select the firm which is capable of catering to your distinctive requirements.
  • It is essential to select a web development company which ensures qualitative services, which is crucial for the development of your website.
  • Assess the diverse companies and analyze the services which they are proffering. Take your time and then select the company which is proffering the best services which need not necessarily be costly.
  • The web development firm which you opt for should have proficient customer support service so that you can be updated about the development of your work.
  • For constructing a website, knowledge of varied programming languages like TML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and AJAX is necessitated. Ascertain that the web development firm which you are opting for, has experienced personnel who are proficient in the diverse aspects of website development, as they can then perform the task which has been assigned to them flawlessly.