Career Woman

5 Questions to ask the web developer before signing a contract


When you need a top notch website and don’t want to do the work yourself, you need to make sure that you contract with someone that is reputable and has good business practices. You can check out their reviews from past customers, ask for references and view their work portfolio, but it is important that you also ask them the right questions before you sign a contract.

1. What can we expect from your design?

No one wants a surprise when they get the finished project. It is easy to miscommunicate and misunderstand one another and that is why it is important to ask questions before you sign the contract. This is the part where you get to set expectations and have your expectations set to ensure satisfaction for both parties at the end of the agreement.

Make sure to ask the designer if the design is going to be a custom design or if they will be using a template for your site. If you have any specific features and functions that you requested, make sure to request them in writing and also have them in the contract. Ensure that they have confirmed that they can give you the functions that you want.

Websites need to be mobile optimized for the convenience of the reader but also for the sake of search engine optimization. Google has stated that they now prioritize mobile friendly sites which means if your site is not mobile friendly, it is showing up below all of the other sites that are no matter how great your site is otherwise.

You also need to make sure that the site design is going to look good on different platforms and in different browsers. Especially the most popular ones like Safari for iPhone users and Firefox and Chrome.

2. What will we be responsible for?

Make sure the website developer gives you a list of anything that you might be responsible for outside of paying the bill. If there are any tools that they require you to buy or hosting that needs to be taken care of outside the package or if you need to learn how to register a domain name to get the project started. You need to know anything that you might not have done that could hold up the project.

3. What will the final bill be?

While your website developer may have given you a rough estimate, you want to get them down to it and make sure how much the final bill is going to be.

It is wise to ask for an invoice that has each item and how much you are paying for each item. If you see anything on the invoice that you are not sure about you will be able to ask and get clarification.

Make sure if the bill is a fixed bid or if it is on a sliding scale. A sliding scale means that you have to pay the bill but you could also have to pay an additional percentage for unexpected expenses or services.

Many web developers require that they be paid up front or at least that a large portion of the money be paid up front. Some developers are more reasonable and ask you to pay half up front and half at the end or separate it into thirds. Making sure that you understand the payment structure is important so you know how much money you owe and when.

Also check to see if there will be ongoing monthly charge for maintenance, hosting or anything of the sort. Monthly charges can get expensive so make sure that you aren’t overpaying.

Find out if there is anything that you need that isn’t included so you do not get to the end of your project and find out you still need other pieces of the puzzle.

4. What happens when the project is done (or not)?

If your project is finished but you do not agree on the work that has been done, what does the contract say about how this is dealt with. Making sure that you have a clear understanding is important since most contracts say that the money you have paid is non-refundable and do not offer any guarantees on their work.

Making sure to check at least two recent references might save you the trouble of having to deal with these types of problems though so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call those numbers.

5. What other services do you offer?

Checking to see if your web developer offers other services might allow you to get a better deal if you go with a product bundle. You might need hosting, plugins built or some other type of related service that they offer. You may be able to find this information on their website, but some companies like to keep their separate services listed on different sites to keep from confusing their clients. It’s also good to speak with your web developers, before signing a contract, to understand their set up. Often website designers and website developers are usually two different things, so it’s always good to know if one company will be covering everything for you.


Making sure to thoroughly vet your web developer can save you a lot of mental pain and misery. Ensuring that this person is a good person to work with and knows what they are doing through research and questions will give you the best opportunity get a web developer that is going to fit your needs and give you a website that you can be proud of.

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