Guide to Getting a Website Programmer

by Sarah Dopp

A website cannot live on a pretty design alone. A well-programmed website navigates smoothly, interacts with your visitors, and guides search engines. Website programming is also referred to as coding.

Cost

$100 - $5,000

Smart Shopping Tips

First, think about your desired final results. Do you want to share information? Gather contact names? Make sales? Aid communication? Offer current news?

Now ask yourself how you think you'd like to do that.

As with your Graphic and Layout Design shopping, take a look at other websites for models. Find websites that function the way you'd like yours to. What works for you? What doesn't?

If your budget is tight, you may want to stick with simply sharing information. Describe your services and offer your contact information. You've already left those competitors without websites in the dust.

There are also ways to create a more dynamic, interactive site without spending a lot of money. There are thousands of free and inexpensive programs out there for websites. These range from online stores to blogs to guest books and forums. If the right one for you has already been developed, you may only need to invest in its installation and customization. Ask a programmer if you what you want already exists.

If you've got brilliant new ideas (and the cash to back them up), someone can also develop a unique program for your website. Expect this to cost at least $60/hour.

There are many ways to go about finding your website's programmer. Here are the top three:

  1. Check with your friends and colleagues. A personal recommendation is often the most reliable way to find someone. Make sure that the programmer meets your needs too, though.
  2. Search directories of website developers (like the Open Directory). Choose one who has a portfolio that matches your taste, rates within your budget, and excellent customer service skills (see below for advice on full-service developers).
  3. Post your project on project bidding sites (like Guru.com) for competitive quotes.

It's important to remember that your website's programmer may also serve as your graphic designer, your content writer, and even your web host. On one hand, a full-service firm may work most efficiently. On the other hand, you might find better quality and deals if you work with separate specialists. Do plenty of research to determine if a full-service web development firm is right for you.