How to Find Customers For Your Web Development Company

There are a lot of companies around the world who have the expertise to create very impressive pieces of online software. Whether you write your code in ASP, PHP, Perl or some other language then you will have something that website owners will value. The challenge is how to find customers when your average site owner doesn’t know PHP from a BLT.

In 1999 I set up a web development firm and it has gone from strength to strength. In this article I will share the most valuable piece of advice that I can offer and explain how we attract customers and have continued to grow over the past 8 years.
A premise of my advice is that advertising to get customers is expensive and time consuming and often dealing with those looking to create their first website is time consuming and frustrating if their ideas are wildly different from what you know will be successful. The story below avoids any of these problems.

I started off by writing a small series of PHP scripts and advertised these within the ‘geek’ community. These included a relatively simple whois script that allows users to type in a Domain Name and check its availability. This shortly expanded to include a shopping cart and ordering system. I advertised this on Hot Scripts, the PHP Resource Index and a few other basic websites where technical people and design firms look.

Over the first year I offered this whois script for free. Several hundred companies downloaded the program and I made sure I responded to any support enquiries very quickly and politely. As the program improved I started charging around £50 ($100) per download and the script went from strength to strength. To date I have sold several thousand copies – a good return from an initial investment of perhaps a weeks work and free listings on Hot Scripts and a few other sites.

What this model achieves is that companies who are looking for a whois script but don’t have the technical skill to write one themselves find your offering, they then contact you with support requests and are impressed with your level of support. A large proportion of the companies that contacted me were design firms. In the future if this design company received an enquiry from a potential customer who required something that needed bespoke programming then they immediately thought of my company. They then sent the customer’s brief to me for a quotation, I replied with a friendly email and a reasonable price and the job was secured and quickly delivered.

Every day I sold a copy of the who is script and every week I was creating new relationships with design firms around the world. These design companies spend their time dealing with customers, advertising for new work and dealing with the stress of finding new leads and I sat back and replied to emails with quotations and did programming work.

This business model may not work for everybody but I would certainly recommend giving it a try – develop something that design firms may download and then provide them with a good service, the better you can do this the more chance they have of remembering you and rewarding you with more profitable work in the future.

Choosing Your Web Developer

Placing your business online should not be a strenuous or arduous task. It should be a reasonably enjoyable process whose end result should be increased leads for your business. The secret, is finding the right web developer, with the right skills, for your particular needs.

When deciding on who should develop your site you should consider the following:

1. Availability – Is the developer contactable? Will he/she be available after hours and on weekends if you have any issues or problems with your site?

2. Honesty – Will the developer give you truthful advice and recommendations, or just push the company line?

3. Customer Service – Will you be given a personalised service where the developer sees your project through from start to finish? Will this developer be the one who makes changes or additions as your business grows?

4. Services – Does your developer offer the full range of services necessary to get your business online? For example, do they offer Domain Name Registration, Website Hosting, Email, E-Commerce, PHP and MySQL (to run blogs, CRM’s and other database applications) and be able to market your website?

5. Pricing – The cost of having a website built can vary quite considerably.

Always ask for a quotation upfront.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions;

• Ask for a itemised quotation so you can see a breakdown of exactly what you are getting for your money.

• Will you need to pay a deposit?

• Are there any ongoing fees? i.e. Website Hosting.

• Do you charge a flat rate or charge by the hour?

• How long will the website take to complete?

• Will I have to pay for extras, and if so how much?

6. Quality – There is no point in paying big dollars (or even lesser dollars for that matter) for a site you are unhappy with or looks cheap and nasty. Always have a look at the developer’s portfolio. If they do not have one on their website, ask yourself why not? Don’t be afraid to ask to see previous works. Also, read customer testimonials. Even call those customers to get their opinion on the developer’s work ethics and abilities.

Although I would be extremely thoughtless to claim that these 6 points are everything you need to be aware of, I firmly believe if you include these points in when considering your developer you will find yourself one you are going to be happy with and that you will use for many years to come.

9 Great Tips to Boost Your Web Development Skills

It’s undeniable that web development has become a sought-after service in the internet marketing business. Modern-day entrepreneurs want to have a website of their own to establish their brand online. If you want to get hired, you have to be one of the best in your field.

There may be no substitute for experience, but there are shortcuts to improving your skills. The following are great tips from seasoned developers on how you can boost your web development prowess.

1. Get rid of floated lists. Most web developers get stuck fixing the floated lists element. Sometimes, setting the right height can get complicated. You can prevent this from happening by adding two CSS properties to any container within the list – display: block; overflow: hidden; Doing so adjusts the height automatically.

2. Use web inspectors. When it comes to the use of web inspectors, developers differ on which one is best. If your website encounters some minor CSS problems, this tool works effectively. You can preview changes live in Safari or Chrome. Just right click on an element and choose ‘Inspect Element’.

3. Sandbox the clutter. Keep your experiments uncluttered by outside influences. If you want to try some new effects, transitions, or techniques, do it as a sandbox project. Following this can make the code easier to debug if it doesn’t work as expected.

4. Single responsibility principle. You may have heard web developers stressing the importance of this principle. The single responsibility function simply explains that every object in your code should contain one function. Splitting the structure and the style can actually benefit you in the end. Once something breaks, it’ll be easier for you to find which object is the problem.

5. Try the GitLab system. Most web developers use GitHub, but it’s more of a private tool. For an enhanced version, you should try GitLab. For one, it is an open source. It can also be made compatible with your own servers.

6. Always comment your code. This is highly recommended for those who work as a team offering internet marketing services. In order for others to understand your code, you need to properly comment on codes, organize PSDs and FLAs, and name layers. It’ll be easier for the whole team to find where things are.

7. Automate your unit tests. Deploying or manually running unit tests can be a waste of time. Be smart and automate it. This can help you find problems early in the development cycle. It can also watch over your code in both time and space dimensions.

8. Sprite to speed up. Speed up your page downloads by turning icons, buttons, and backgrounds into sprites. Once you use the attribute ‘CSS background-position’ the portion of the image you want to appear will be shown.

9. Security is important. When launching a new website, it’s easy to get carried away with design and content that security becomes taken for granted. Before going live, make sure that your site is secure. Run it through security checks to solve security concerns. Try to test your site’s security using asafaweb.com.

Whether it’s for blogs or an eCommerce website agency, entrepreneurs will need web developers to improve and maintain their website’s interaction. Practice these tips to also improve on your skills as a web developer!