Written by Grant Dingwall ∙ 7 min read ∙ Sep 6, 2023

Don’t get scammed! 8 questions you need to ask when hiring a web developer

small business owner looking frustrated at his computer.

Hiring a web developer but not sure where to start?

Unfortunately, we’ve seen lots of people get taken advantage of.

There’s lots of companies out there doing sub-par work and charging premium prices. These companies aren’t so much web design companies so much as they are sales companies.

If this isn’t your industry, it’s hard to know the right questions to ask.

If you want to get good value for money, ask these 8 questions next time you hire a web developer.

1) What CMS would you design the site on?

Content Management Systems (CMS) are ways to manage your website content.

This is how you edit and post content on your website. You should be able to easily add text, images, and other content.

WordPress is the most popular free CMS, and it’s what we use for most of our projects. Others like Wix and Squarespace are growing in popularity.

Paid CMS platforms tend to have industry niches. Nationbuilder, for example, is great for political campaigns.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. But you need to know what CMS you’re using and why.

Pro Tip: Platforms like Wix and Squarespace are often no coding required. If you hiring someone using these tools, they might not know anything more than you do about coding! These platforms are fine, but don’t expect custom work.

2) Are your sites designed from scratch, or are you editing a stock theme?

If you’re a small business with a limited budget, one of the best options out there is to buy a stock WordPress theme.

You can often find a high quality theme for $50-100. If you spend a few hours customizing and editing it, you can have a better website than many of your competitors!

Sadly, there are many agencies that will re-sell these themes for thousands of dollars!

Don’t get taken advantage of, and ask that question up front.

3) How does your team make sure my website is accessible for people with disabilities?

Most countries have accessibility laws for websites. Failure to comply can result in large fines or other legal challenges.

Most people are unaware of these laws — including many agencies!

Simple design choices, like a background colour, could potentially make your site inaccessible.

Your designer should have a plan for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

You built your website so people can use it – so make sure everyone can.

We’ve written several blogs about website accessibility, you should check them out.

4) Do you design using Elementor or any other drag-and-drop builders?

Elementor is easily the most popular drag and drop builder out there.

Tools like Elementor are great for beginners and people who can’t code.

But that speed and convenience comes at a cost. Visual website builders often generate a lot of extra code. This can lead to slow loading times and problems with search engine optimization (SEO).

If website speed and SEO are important to you, these aren’t always the tools for the job.

If you’re hiring professionals to build your site, they shouldn’t need these tools.

5) Is your team coding it internally, or are you working with subcontractors?

If the person you’re talking to can’t answer your questions, they might not be a good fit.

You might be dealing with a company that sells websites, instead of one that builds them!

I already told you about one way companies do this: The people that buy and resell $50 themes.

Another way that companies do this is to hire a white-label company to do the work for them. A lot of companies that sell websites don’t actually do the work. Instead, they hire developers overseas to build their sites, and then give them to you at a massive markup.

These companies often have nobody on their team who actually knows how to code a site. When you need support, there’s a game of telephone going on.

Make sure you know who’s doing the work, and make sure that when you need help, there’s someone on staff who’s able to do it.

6) What training or documentation will my team get?

When you get your new website, it’s important that you know how to use it.

We’ve heard stories about people getting new websites and no instructions about how to use them. Often this comes with a sales pitch: for some extra money, they’ll provide you with training on how to use the site!

At testerdigital, we always provide a training document. To us, this is the least a developer can do for their clients.

But not all companies work that way, and it’s best to know from the beginning!

7) What recurring costs will the website have?

Most websites have two recurring costs:

  • Domain name (the website address)
  • Hosting (where your data is stored online).

Often you’ll buy both of these from a company like GoDaddy, Namecheap, or Bluehost. We love Cloudways for secure cloud hosting!

Sometimes websites will come with extra costs. Paid WordPress plugins often need an annual fee. Some CMS have monthly or annual charges.

Ask your developer if there’s any extra costs so you have a full picture of their plan. If they plan on using a lot of paid plugins, that’s also a red flag.

8) Will you be given full admin control of your site?

Once the site is done, is there anything that you will be dependent on the developer for?

This can be a challenge for your business. Will you need an ongoing support contract? Will you need to pay huge fees for small changes? What happens if the developer goes out of business? What if you want to end the contract but keep the site?

Make sure you know what happens if either party decides to walk away.

Bonus: Be wary of reviews

Some companies farm fake reviews online. It’s a part of a sales process, and not necessarily reflective of quality work.

To avoid this, you can ask to see some recent work, or contact their clients to get real feedback. This can be more helpful than reading reviews.


Accessibility, Small Business, Website, Wordpress

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