How to Talk to a Web Developer – Networking Note Cards

In this article I will give you 10 different talking points you can use when in conversation for talking to someone who is either a web developer or a web designer. If you have ever tried talking to one of these people while possessing only a very basic knowledge of web development then you probably wanted to plug your ears and run away. No need to worry because after reading this article you will be able to hang in the conversation with the best web developers and designers around.

ASK:

1) “Which File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program do you use to upload your files?” Of course I suggest you do some very basic research as to what is FTP. Describing FTP is beyond the scope of this article just know that it is basically a program that transfers files from one computer to the next over the Internet. If you spring this on the person you’re talking to you instantly will create a rapore.

2) “What sites are you most proud of in your portfolio?” Most developers or designers have a site they are most proud of. Find out what it is and find out what was unique about that site. Also, you can ask such things like : how long it took them to do, who was the client, and what they enjoyed most about working with that client.

3) “Name some of the more difficult challenges you over come when designing and developing.” Every designer and developer can answer this with ease and it will get them talking for awhile about the aspects that they dislike the most. Be sympathetic to them and find out how they make the task they dislike more enjoyable.

4) “What approach do you take when developing?” Everyone has their own approach to designing and developing. They might ask, “What do you mean?” Simply, say what is your step by step process to designing or developing. Once they explain, pick a step they cite and dive more deeply into that step to keep the conversation going.

5) “What do you think is the best approach for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?” This is a great question to ask them as there is still much controversy over the internet about what is the best way to implement SEO on your website. Get their opinion on it. This will lead into a whole conversation in itself. Make sure you do some basic research into what is SEO in Wikipedia for further conversation fodder.

SAY:

1) “A great team for any website consists of: developer, designer, graphic artist, and an administrator.” Saying this at somepoint in the conversation will show them you know what it takes to make up a strong web base presence. You can find out what roles they play in the team and how they get along with the other players on the team.

2) “Tables and layers are great for website layouts.” Tables and layers are the basic ways to layout a web page. Find their preference and ask them what they like to use and why. Take a second and look up the visual differences of both so you can see what you’re talking about before you get into a conversation with a developer or designer.

3) “I prefer to outline everything before I begin developing or designing a website.” Of course if you don’t design or develop websites then this question might not apply to you but you could adapt it to you by simply stating “If I designed or developed a website I would outline…” This still shows that you are expressing an interest in your conversational counterpart’s interests.

4) “There are some excellent database servers online.” For example mySQL is a database server. Check it out on Wikipedia to get a better idea of what a database server is. Once you have a decent idea of what it is and the different types out there you will know enough to get the conversation rolling and then pass it off to them.

5) “Almost any question you have for developing a website can be found by typing it into search engines.” This is one of my personal favorites because I actually do this for EVERYTHING, especially for designing websites. Bring this up and ask them if they have any questions about anything then refer them to do what you just said. Once again this will show that you are taking time away from your agenda whatever that may be to focus on their interests and concerns.

Talking to someone who is a “techy” or a very technical person can sometimes be daunting if you are not familiar with what they are talking about. Though, with these above talking points you will be able to have enough conversational ammunition to get the conversation rolling long enough to where you can pass off most of the talking to them. That is what you want ultimately in the conversation anyway, for them to do most of the talking.

Moreover, if you don’t know much about developing or designing, using the above talking points on a web guru will undoubtedly lead to an increase in your computer web knowledge.

Good luck in your future conversations with those designers and developers!

When Web Development Starts to Take Into Account the User

Up until a few years ago, web development was gone about in a utilitarian kind of way. Something needed to get done, and a quick and logical solution was found for it. Technologies such as cgi, asp, ajax all came about to give answers to difficult questions such as how to create dynamic pages. Php eventually won out by being the most efficient and easy-to-learn language along with MySql databases. With great support and free software, these were the best web development solutions out there for the common user.

It is that common user that made this evolution happen. When people who were not trained in web design started making their own websites, then finally the most accessible web development technologies became commonplace. But still, web development was not being done in a way that was turned toward the user. It was done in a functional way that solved any issues that arose, but did not ultimately help the user get around a site or ever find the website. That is when the push for css-based design and url re-write mods came to be.

One of the heroes of this movement in my mind is Dave Shea. He pushed for standards in web development and for the use of CSS-based designs that minimized the amount of html and improved the versatility of websites and made universal access and compatibility a must. By keeping the user in mind, designs became more artistic and creative. Javascript and Flash often get in the way of a good web experience for many users and CSS takes care of that partially by creating desired effects without having to use these two programs. Of course, there are always limitless possibilities with Flash design, but in terms of usability, it is inferior to CSS.

The push for Search Engine Optimization has also pushed web developers to make websites with easy to remember url’s and well organized content that makes sense to users and search engines. Google’s algorithm becomes smarter and requires that page content be readable to humans and not just robots. Good use of headers and semantic page content as opposed to spam-dexing has become more commonplace. Web development has helped with this by generating attractive url’s and, through css, has done image replacement for header tags for design purposes.

Important Questions You Must Ask a Potential Web Developer

Question 1. What is your client feedback like? Would you mind if I contacted a few businesses from your portfolio?

Right Answer:Yes of course, you’re welcome to contact any of our clients.

Wrong Answer: “We don’t have a portfolio” or “Our client’s details/websites are private” or “We would prefer you didn’t pester our clients, it’s unprofessional”.

Summary: A professional web designer should have a portfolio of their work and should have no problem with you contacting them. It’s not unprofessional, It’s actually the opposite. If you get these answers avoid this designer or agency as its obvious their clients (if they even exist) have nothing good to say about them.

Question 2. How much do you charge for web design? Do you charge a total design and development fee or will I get billed as the site is designed depending on features and any outlay.

Right Answer: Once we have all the info you will be given a total cost and payment structure, this won’t change as the design goes on, any outlay from us for things such as stock imagery is factored into the quotation.

Wrong Answer: We can’t give you an accurate price; we will just bill you as the site progresses

Summary: After sitting with you for an hour or exchanging a few emails a professional web designer will be able to give you and accurate design fee. Dodgy agencies often claim to have to purchase items, imagery and code for your site and bill you for them, I’ve even known agencies to bill for consultations or phone calls. This is nonsense it’s simply a way of getting you onboard with a good sounding low price then basically milking what they can out of you.

Question 3. Do you use the same template for every website or will my website be unique.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s simply down to a personal preference, but it is something that you need to ask. If you are getting a ‘One design fits all’ template then you should be charged accordingly, £100, £200 at a push because this isn’t web design and an agency doing this probably got the templates they use designed by a third party or even downloaded them so are not web designers themselves, This also brings up the question “What if you have any problems” or “What if you want something unique adding ” Will they be able to do it? Probably not and if you insist they will have to pay a third party and bill you… See question 2!

Question 4. Will you be writing my website in code (bespoke) or will you simply be installing or using a third party software package? Again, Not really a right or wrong answer for this one. There is however a massive difference between a web designer writing bespoke code for websites and one who uses open source software such as WordPress, One is a professional web designer and the other is simply an IT company who have learned to use a piece of software.

Some people knowingly choose a WordPress installer as their web designer simply because they believe it will be cheaper (as it should be) and the software has everything they need and they require no unique features, there are however a growing number of agencies installing WordPress or similar and charging extortionate fees sometimes more that it would cost to have a bespoke website designed, You need to understand that WordPress is FREE, you can install it yourself and learn how it works, at the end of the day it was designed by professional web developers as a DIY solution so how much should you really be paying someone to click an install button? Seriously most hosting comes with a one click WordPress install button…

There are other issues with WordPress, its open source so hackers can view the code to find exploits making it the most hacked website, can you risk this? It’s also extremely slow due to the amount of code needed to run, so when your site gets busy it becomes unusable.

Question 5. Do you consider the search engines when building and designing a website.

Right Answer: Yes of course, the website will be fully optimised for the modern search engines and fully compliant with Google guidelines.

Wrong Answer: Once the website is built it will need to be SEO’d which will cost you ‘x’ amount.

Summary: A professional web designer will keep up to date with all the latest marketing and design trends and Google guidelines so your website will be compliant and search engine friendly when designed, this doesn’t mean you will instantly end up with page one results (although I’ve seen this happen with less competitive niches) but you’ll be well on your way.

If you see someone using the term “You need your site SEO’d” run a mile, Also, designers saying that they will need to charge you extra to get it ready for the search engines are either simply trying to milk all they can out of you or don’t have the skill or knowledge to make sure your site is compliant and search engine friendly as they design it as they are probably using out of date or even online drag and drop software, in either case avoid these designers like the plague.

Question 6. Will the website be responsive, mobile friendly and work on tablets and mobile phones?

Right Answer: Of course, It’s been industry standard for about 2 years now, all websites created are responsive and fully compliant with mobiles, tablets etc

Wrong Answer: “We don’t know what that is?” or “We will build you a separate mobile website and charge you ‘x’ amount” or “We will have to charge you more for responsive design” Summary: Just as the right answer says, “It’s been industry standard for about 2 years now” So all websites developed within the last 2 years should be responsive and adapt to any device and screen size, Separate mobile websites were around a few years ago but nobody should be using this outdated technology now, It was always flawed as it detected device and not screen size and required constant code updates, also, tablet users often got served the stripped down mobile version when their device could easily handle the desktop version, another flaw was the fact that you had two websites to managed and update and two website sharing traffic…

All modern websites should be responsive and it should not cost extra

Question 7. Will I have the ability to make my own amendments and updates or will I need to come back to you each time I want something changing.

Right Answer: Your website will come with its own dashboard or CMS (Content Management System) allowing amendments and updates so you do not need to keep coming back to us for minor changes.

Wrong Answer: “For this feature you will have to have a WordPress site” or “You will need to contact us every time you need something changing and we charge ‘x’ amount per hour”

Summary: Again, It’s industry standard for the owner to be able to update their own website, Some CMS’s are more advanced than others depending on the agency who wrote it or the site it’s being used on, and, No you don’t need a WordPress site to be able to make your own updates, I hear this a lot from “amateur package installers” who are either trying to push you to have a WordPress install rather than a bespoke website being it’s all they can do or actually don’t know themselves, the later is the scariest.

Remember! WordPress was written using server code by professional web developers, of course a professional developer can build a bespoke CMS for you using the same code, it will also be a lot less complex than the WordPress dashboard and easier to use.