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Top 10 Ways to Choose A Web Developer

August 11 2010


If you search for agent or broker websites on, the search results are dauntingly lengthy. How does a real estate professional weed through all the vendors who offer similar website creation and online maintenence?

We love when real estate technology vendors provide helpful articles shedding light onto technology solutions they know so well. Dakno Real Estate Marketing provides a number of free resources on their website; one of their latest articles outlines 10 guidelines to keep in mind when selecting a website provider. Both challenging agents and brokers to make a smart choice when choosing a website and website providers to meet these standards. We believe all will enjoy this article:

You know a website would be great for your real estate business.The exposure, the increased sales, the opportunity to open up whole new markets for your product and services – all this sounds really exciting and enticing. You can already imagine how a website will bring your business into the 21st century with a splash of growth and profits.

Going online sounds great, right? But, if you're like many, you have no idea how to get started.

At first you thought you would just do it on your own, but with such things to consider as web design, marketing, hosting, and so much more, it all seems so overwhelming, doesn't it?

If you're serious about going online and doing it right, it's time to consider hiring a professional web developer. Hiring a competent, full-service web development company to create the total online package for you can be a no-stress solution that almost surely guarantees you the results you're looking for. Don't waste your valuable time struggling with confusing code and IP addresses – leave that to an expert while you keep your attention on growing your business. Letting an expert guide you through the process so you end up with exactly what you want may be just about the best decision you've made for your business all year.

But, before you rush out and hire the first person calling himself a web developer, you'll want to know how to tell the highly qualified from the hacks.

Don't worry; we've created a list for you of The Top 10 Things You Need to Know to Choose the Perfect Real Estate Web Developer that will make selecting the ideal candidate for your job as easy as 1, 2, 3! These are the questions you'll want to ask any potential web developer to make sure they're the right fit for your site.

So, if you're ready, read on and learn how you can take a huge step toward your online success in just minutes.

1. Pretty Pictures or Real Code?

One of the first things you'll want to find out is whether or not your candidate is truly a developer or if they just paint pretty pictures online? Many wannabe developers use drag-and-drop HTML editors (rather than writing the code themselves). These programs create confusing code, long page load times, and tons of problems for search engines and alternative browsers.

True developers (who write the code themselves) will be able to code your site in a way that optimizes it for fast load times, assures browser compatibility with all the top browsers, and sets it up perfectly to raise in the search engines ranks.

2. Got Growing Room? Update This!

As your online business grows, so too will your website. Changes in inventory, services, prices, and other day-to-day business information will likely need to be reflected on your site.

Be sure to ask your candidate how the site will be updated (e.g., do they have a maintenance plan)? Who will be updating the site? How much will it cost? What will you get for your money? Can the company offer more value as you need your site to grow? Can they do extensive database-driven applications? A company should have a vast understanding of web technologies and strategies for your success. When you understand up front how your site will be ready for growth, you're headed in the right direction.

3. Established or Fly By Night?

When it comes to web developers these days it seems that just about anybody can hang an e-shingle on their door and call themselves a professional. It's very important that you do a little research to find out what your candidate's background is before hiring.

Does the developer have an extensive client list to verify the validity of the company?

Does he have testimonials that demonstrate happy customers? Can the developer provide you with references you can contact? Does the developer have a portfolio of sites that are currently up with links to them (not just screenshots), so you can view the work? How long has the developer been in business?

4. What's Your Role?

To build a high quality, highly effective website takes collaboration.

The web developer should be an expert in design and coding, but you are an expert in what your business does.

Be sure to ask what your responsibility will be. Find out how and what the developer will want you to provide (e.g., text, graphics, copy).

5. What's It Going To Cost?

In the web world, it's often true that you pay for what you get. You might think hiring the 13-year-old across the street may save you some money, but in reality it can actually hurt your business in the longrun. Many times, your website is the first impression people get of your company. An unprofessional site communicates that you are an unprofessional business.

Consider spending money up front to assure yourself of a professional site that is expandable and gets results. It's always a good idea to get an initial quote from one developer and compare it to another web development company.

6. Does Your Candidate Offer a Comprehensive Guide on How to Select a Web Developer?

Sorry, we couldn't resist.

7. What Are BIG Red Flags to Watch Out For?

When deciding upon your web developer, there are definitely clues you can look for that will show that a particular developer is not for you. The biggest one, of course, is does anyone in the company know how to code using HTML?

Many people use programs such as Front Page, but anyone who uses Front Page typically doesn't know how to code well…which limits your ability to grow, dirty HTML code, poor ranking, and on and on…all of which can make it hard for people to find you in search engines.

8. What Questions Should I Ask?

We thought you'd never ask, so here are a few questions you can ask any potential developer to see how well they know their game:

  • "Could you code an entire website only using a text based editor such as notepad?"
  • The answer should be 'yes.' This tells you they have a clear understanding of HTML.
  • "What is chmod?"
  • This is a standard command for changing file permissions on a Unix server. This lets you know they have an understanding of programming.
  • "What do you think of audio on websites?"
  • Audio that automatically plays on websites is usually frowned upon. If they include audio, it should be off by default with the ability to turn the sound on.
  • "What programming languages are you proficient in?"
  • If they can't name one, then you are in trouble. A company should have a wide variety of languages they are schooled in, including (but not limited to), HTML, CGI, PHP, ASP, and databases such as MySQL.

Even with these few questions, you should be able to get a sense of whether the developer really knows his stuff or is just a poser.

9. Is Marketing Important?

Believe it or not, just having a website is not enough. To be successful, your site (and the way it is promoted) must be marketing savvy. A full-service web development firm should have a marketing edge that outlines a plan to take your site to the top.

Find out if the developer can explain branding? Do they know color theory? Can they give examples or case studies of websites they have created that brought in additional revenues for the client? Ask to see a sample marketing plan to see how their total package might work for you.

Now that you have a great new website that is high-impact and delivers results, the chances are you are going to want to update other materials to give you a constant look (consistent branding is key). Does the company offer additional marketing services that can help with that or can point you to?

When you prepare yourself with these 9 Things You Need to Know, you're sure to find the developer that is right for you.

10. Interaction with Developer

The 10th thing you need to know, however, doesn't involve anything technical: Simply, how does your interaction with the developer "feel?" You're going to be working with this person (or people) for a while, so you want to make sure you feel good about the interaction, the communication, and the overall vibe. This paired with answers to the other 9 things you need to know will assure you of a great experience going online!