October 13, 2014
Posted by: Grant Owens
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you’ll need vendors of some kind. In today’s economy, that’s often a development shop to build your website or app.
With lots of development shops out there, how in the world do you know which one to choose?
Here are 3 things to think about when choosing a company to hand over your online presence to:
Before you even start Googling development shops, you need to do your own homework. Anyone who has worked with programmers knows it can sometimes feel like you’re speaking different languages (because you are) and that can make the process of building frustrating and expensive.
Your first step is to create a functional specification document. This handy document is essentially a blueprint of your project, and it’s the most important thing you can do at the outset.
What do you include in your functional specs?
Functionality outline: everything you want the site to do. Remember to outline the front end (what users can do) and back end (what you can do).
User types: On the front end, who will be using it and what can each level do. (E.g. free users have less access than paid.) On the back end, you’ll need different users with different levels of access. (Administrator, employee, etc)
Sitemap: outline each of the different pages and what will be on them. Don’t forget the different pages for different user types.
User work flow: how will each user interact and move through the site?
User stories: paragraphs on how each user will use the app or site. Be as detailed as you possibly can because this will only help the developers see your vision.
It’s okay if you don’t have this document perfect because a good shop will be able to help you rethink and refine it. But, get as much onto paper as you possibly can before you even think about calling potential vendors.
As in everything else in life, the best people to work with are probably the people you already know. Ask around and get recommendations on great development shops and programmers.
Obviously make sure you ask people whose opinions you trust. Grandma probably won’t have a good suggestion. (Unless Grandma is a rock star Internet entrepreneur, of course.)
If you’re in a new city, give a Google a try. Then ask to talk to past customers of the shops you talk with and get their honest feedback on working with the vendor.
There are tons of competent development shops and plenty of great ones. The deciding factor in working with a vendor of any kind should be how well you get along.
You’re about to be spending months of your time and thousands of dollars with these people. Make sure they’re people you can communicate well with and trust with your business.
We know we aren’t the perfect vendor for every customer, but we would still love to talk to you about your project. If we can’t get it done for you, we’ll be happy to refer you to someone who can. Give us a call.