A while back I wrote a post about tips for freelancers …
My goal at the time was to later write an article on tips for clients choosing a web development company. I thought at the time this would be a straightforward article to write but the more I thought about it the less straightforward it become.
Some typical indicators to decide whether a company is worth choosing could be as follows, How many employees does the company have? Are the companies premises any good? How long the company has been in business? Does the company have a decent looking website?
The majority of the above indicators are really indicators as to how well the business is doing. A lot of people will except that if the final product looks and feels right and it works then they are happy with the final product. With a large number of people accepting this as the basic premise most businesses can survive for a long time on this premise.
So what is it I am getting at here? In short, it is the underlying code powering the web development project. It is this area that as the client you will have no ability to judge without programming experience.
Neither did any of the previous clients of the long standing businesses, so the business may be big, the business may have been around for a long while but this does not mean that either you or the previous clients ever got a good product in terms of the code powering the web development project.
How the product looks and to some extent whether the product works or not is merely a coat of paint over the real engine powering the web development product.
A Ford car can look and work right, a Rolls Royce car can look and work right but both have huge differences in the price tag. How do you know whether you are getting a Ford or a Rolls Royce? The quality of the components? In a web development project whilst some of the components may stand out such as the design, some of the components do not stand out i.e. the code.
This article has been born from observing different web development projects with different qualities of code being sold at vastly different prices. The higher priced projects do not nessacarily equate to higher quality code although the project may be of a better quality in other areas.
As a client how can you ensure you are getting quality code? I have thought about this and I am not sure there really is an answer. You could get a programmer contact or external company to inspect the code but then how can you be sure that the external company is any good at programming code, especially since the same applies to the external company which applies to the primary company?
As a client without programming experience maybe it should be excepted that if the company can produce a product which “looks good” and “works right” then the company is acceptable. The quality of the code is hard to determine for the general client and getting the code verified by a third party simply means you have transfered the trust from the primary company to the external company.