So you are ready to jump in and take your business or idea and create an online presence! But with no experience in building websites, you begin the process of finding a development team for whom you can trust and rely. You find yourself being faced with hundreds of freelance designers and companies (from around the world) offering similar services and trying to win your business. You receive a roller coaster of bids ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 for the same type of work. It’s insane and confusing at the same time. In this article, our goal is to give you a head start in your search for the right technology partner. We want you to ask the right questions to your prospective individual or team so that you have a thorough understanding of what the entire process will look like from the beginning stages through the end results. This is an important investment for you, so take the time needed to research properly. Step 1 – Understand & Document Your Needs This is an obvious first step which has to be done specifically when you decide to choose a team working overseas. It’s important to put your thoughts down on paper. It doesn’t have to be organized or with bullet points but clear enough for you to look back and review it. Your list can be just of the main features you want on the website or an example of similar websites that you would like to emulate. Just jot down what you have in mind so you can share with your potential candidates later. The first sign that you have chosen the right team will be if they review your requirements and have well thought out responses. Granted if you expect the team to “fine tune” your requirements and offer specific feedback, there will probably be a fee attached, which is totally reasonable to expect. However, they should be able to do a cursory review of the initial scope of work and definitely get a sense of what you are trying to accomplish. At this point it might be difficult for you to know your budget but it will certainly help you once you are ready to filter the candidates. Step 2 – Research Potential Developers It’s always good to ask your business associates for recommendations but it’s important for you to do your due diligence. You need to become an investigator in this process. If the developer has testimonials on their site, read through them. If they don’t, ask them for a list of previous clients for whom you can contact. Once you have that list, ask the following questions: 1. How long did the project take from start to finish? 2. What is the online experience of each of the members of the development team? 3. Who was your point of contact during the project? Was it someone who had hands-on experience developing a site or an account manager who acted more like a liaison? This is an important question. You want to be able to work directly with the people who are building your site (or who have built previous sites), not a customer service representative who just wants to make sure you are happy. This is critical because those with direct experience can give you advice on what will work and what won’t work on your website. They will take on your project as if it’s their own. And for a business owner who has limited time during the day, it is imperative that you can trust someone to run with the project. Step 3 – Don’t Let Price Dictate Your Decision It’s tempting to go to a freelancing site and hire the cheapest bid. After all, who doesn’t want to save money? Unfortunately, the cheapest bid doesn’t always equate to the best quality. It also doesn’t mean that the bid will actually be what the freelance charges you. Many freelancers entice people with cheap bids only to increase the price later. Think about it. How can someone give you an accurate bid on your project without knowing the details about it first? Here’s our advice: Although you have your budget in mind, don’t offer up the number when seeking out bids. The higher you say your budget is, the higher someone will pad their bill. Make a short list of 3-5 developers whose quotes range anywhere from [min bid] to [max bid] Interview the developers within the different price ranges to see where the differences are in their offerings. Ask some of the questions we mentioned earlier. Be really direct about your questions. In other words, be sure to ask: 1. Who will be my main point of contact and does that person have “x” number of years experience with online marketing, site development, e-commerce, etc.? During the interview process, tell them the general idea of what you’re looking for and see if they respond with their own ideas for improvement. Those with years of experience will know what works and what doesn’t and won’t hesitate to tell you. 2. Ask how accessible the team will be? How quickly can I contact someone and how fast is the response time? 3. Ask how flexible the team is. There are many companies out there that once you put in an official work order for the project, that will be the direction they will go in. But what if during the middle of the project you discover a better way to improve the customer’s online experience. Will your development team be flexible enough to change directions? Are they knowledgeable enough to suggest taking the project in a different direction? Many are not. While the responsibilities of finding the right mean stack development team may seem daunting, it is critical to the success of your website and ultimately the success of your business. Don’t skimp on any of the above steps . An experienced, flexible and enthusiastic team will be an absolute pleasure to work with as they help turn your vision into reality and will make your investment worth every penny.