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!

Choosing a Web Developer – Who Can I Trust?

Choosing a web developer or web company to build your internet business website can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just starting out, watching your investments and need as much good advice as you can get.

And with these companies naturally pitching their products and services to prospect customers like you, it is not always easy to sieve through the sales talk to get to the truth, to determine if this company is the right web development partner for your business.
 
I like to use the analogy of building a house to describe the web development process from deciding who the building team is, to the actual design and construction. Getting your business website right is as important as getting your home built right. You wouldn’t allow your builders to start building your house if you haven’t seen or approved the drawing plans and building materials, so why would you work with a web developer who do not supply you with such information or who fail to adopt an acceptable scope of work documentation and approval process.
 
It is common for people starting out in the internet marketing business to allow ourselves to be guided by web developers who “know better”. But do bear in mind that no one knows your product or your customers better than you, and if a web developer is not in the least interested in your product or failed to ask about the audience you aim to communicate with, or what actions you would like site visitors to perform when they land on your web page, this is not a developer you want to pay to do the job of creating your internet business website, the most important communication link between you and your customers.
 
Before you go down the path to develop a website for your internet business, know what product or service you intend to promote through this website, and have a good understanding of who your customers and prospects are. This will determine the breadth and depth of your website and from there, an estimated cost of design and development.
 
Then, follow this checklist when selecting a website developer or company for your internet business website:

  • Budget test – Set a budget and test it with the web developers that you are talking to, this will automatically purge out developers who would not be keen to work on your business right from the start.
  • Interview for chemistry – Remember this is going to be the team building and designing your “house”. If you don’t feel some connection at the outset, this may not help communications during the course of the project, this is very important to establish from the start.
  • Talk about you – Tell them about your business and listen to what they have to say or the questions they are asking. Asking questions is a good sign that they are interested in your business.
  • Talk about them – Review past client work and request to see paperwork documenting past projects, ask about the financial health of the company.
  • Talk about “you-and-them” – This is the hard but important stuff, talk about fees, schedule of payments, also explore the potential for an on-going working relationship post website launch

If your business do not require a complex website, you may consider purchasing and utilizing DIY “out-of-a-box” website development package. In which case, you wouldn’t be going through the entire checklist as above. However, at the very least, find out if such packages offer online tutorials on how to get you started and ideally, offer post-purchase online and/or phone support. Simply because, even if your website is three pages deep, you want to know you can call for assistance whenever it is required. 

Learn Web Development Without Going to College

 Start on the Cheap
When you make the decision to learn web development, do not run out and buy the most expensive set of programs on the market. Although Adobe makes outstanding web development titles, the startup developer should learn to write code with products that are more basic.  In essence, it is best to learn the hard way.  Software such as Dreamweaver can encourage rookies to layout everything in tables because it is easy to just drag your elements on the screen.  In the beginning you may learn make a few websites that look okay, but you still won’t really know how to lay out a website the correct way. Products like Dreamweaver become more important when you advance.  At that time, you will be able to use the high-end software to your advantage. 

Learn the Basics: XHTML and CSS
It is tempting to first learn technologies such and Flash or Flex.  These are some of the most exciting technologies on the web.  For the rookie developer, it makes more sense to start with XHTML, and then move onto CSS.  XHTML is the most basic and widely used coding language on the web, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is a presentational language that was designed to make content look good.  It is impossible to be a real success in the web industry without having a firm grip on these two technologies. 

Visit Tutorial Websites
Although printed media is a great place to learn about the design side of building web pages, it is very difficult to learn complex computer code by flipping through the pages of a book. When you do this you are only learning in one way, by reading.  Tutorial websites are a better answer.   You will see an expert web developer work on the project.  You will hear their voice.  You will open up a browser window, and do the project yourself.  Nothing is more effective than this method of learning. It is possible to find a tutorial from a world class teacher on any quality software program available today.  Memberships to tutorial websites are much less expensive than the most affordable design school.  Chances are the lessons will be more up to date as well.

Hang out on Web Development Forums
Everyone needs feedback, and technology is changing all the time.  It is easy to get left in the dust.  The best way for a rookie developer to get quality feedback and stay up to date is to hang out at web development forums.  It is important to see what other developers around the globe are doing with web design.  Forums allow you to ask questions from others that have already been there.  They also give you a place to show off your work and get critiques from people that know what they are talking about.

Web developers have done a good job promoting and helping those in their own medium.  Take advantage of the free and inexpensive online tutorials, learn the basic coding languages, and hang out with those further down the road.  You don’t have to shell out $300 or more per credit hour to learn the web development trade.