No doubt you already know how different the B2B industry often is to the B2C industry, even if you experience marketing operations cross-over. One thing you both need is a web developer or web designer to build a website for capturing business leads and prospects. Or, it could also be a software development and marketing agency to help you with a major project.
Just because you're in B2B it doesn't mean you shouldn't have a website or develop software as part of your B2B marketing strategy, so customers become more aware of your expertise. While B2C companies often work closely with web developers, it's really no different in B2B. How you go about vetting these developers is fairly uniform across industries.
Take a look at the things you should look for in a web developer before signing a contract.
Cutting Too Many Corners
A typical error that B2B businesses make when hiring web developers is hiring cheap labour, just because it's so prevalent. Doing this can become a disaster based on the old concept of quality level being commensurate with what you pay.
The first thing to check for in a developer is how long they've been in business and viewing their portfolio. Quality of their work will always tell you whether their cheaper price is a rare find, or just another "too good to be true" scenario.
It's no different with how ‘human’ the developer is. Don't hire in a hurry just because the developer knows all development jargon. They need to speak in a way that you and everyone in your company can easily understand.
Plus, don't hire quickly without assuring the developer is in the same legal jurisdiction as you are to protect your investment. Hiring a developer from a low-cost labour market often leaves your business in a vulnerable position, should your project fail and you need to explore legal options to recover against any loss and damage.
It's easy to get carried away with the creative side of web development, ignoring the security of your application or website. Even if you think the B2B industry isn't a major security threat, think again. Everyone is vulnerable to cyber threats, and your website could become a target. The responsibility is on you to protect your customer's information and data.
Any developer you hire needs full attention to security. Check to make sure they use the latest security tools and workflows to assure your website stays safe from hacking attempts or ransomware.
Another thing to look out for is the developer's use of version control software. This uses a unique database to keep track of every code modification and allows for quick modifications without confusion or errors. Ask your developer how they approach version control, you'll be able to see whether they work wisely.
For legal security, be sure the developer makes no claim over intellectual property rights. Many developers claim ownership of their designs, and software features. This could run you into legal trouble later.
All quality web developers should create a functional requirements document before they begin work on your website. The quality of this document hinges on how well you brief your developer. Your project brief should include the site's functionality, look-and-feel requirements, conversion events, business goals, content management tools, and all other processes.
It's important you communicate openly and thoroughly with your developer on this since developers often exclude expected site features if you’ve failed to explicitly state them in your brief.
Ask about their post-launch service level agreements and what expectations you have. Be sure to request they do not charge you for bug fixes should they occur within a warranty period.
On this point, don’t forget to ask about warranties periods. You should expect at least 90 days protection against bugs.
Other Things to Scope Out in Your Developer
Make the effort to share your request for proposal with multiple developers or agencies. If your brief is well-written and considered, you’ll find yourself in a position to compare similar quotes and proposals.
Make sure whoever you invite to quote properly communicates added costs like hosting, the use of content delivery networks or SSL certificates since these could balloon your expected budget.
Importantly, ask for a test plan document, and a minimum of two weeks in user acceptance testing. You want to assure all your site features work across all devices specified in your brief. Don't forget about an instructional manual to help your manage your content.
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