When you’re a start-up or young fledgling business taking your first steps in the minefield of digital contracting, it can be difficult to know where to start, and to make sure you’ve hired the right person for the job. You’ve probably heard horror stories of freelance web developers going AWOL halfway through a job, finishing it to a poor standard, or demanding more money for simple bug fixes. There are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that your developer will see your project through, with the appropriate amount of due diligence and quality assurance.

If you’re not in the tech sector already, the chances are that you won’t be personally acquainted with many web developers. When shopping around, make sure you are checking up on a prospective contractor’s credentials, as you would with any outsourcing. Ask your colleagues for recommendations, and once you’ve got a shortlist, ask for testimonials and portfolio samples. Don’t rely on their previous work alone: speak directly to the web developer’s previous clients and find out about their skill level, as well as their work ethic, effectiveness and aftercare when working on a project. This will give you a good, sound knowledge of the dev’s background, and how you might expect to work with them.

If you’re going to an agency, again make sure you’re conducting these thorough background checks. Don’t assume that because you’re dealing with a business, rather than an individual, that you’re protected from developers jumping ship or scamming you. In the age of the internet, anyone can write code (to varying degrees of proficiency) and anyone can register a business. So make sure the company you’re going with are reputable, financially sound and have a track record of happy customers.

Finally – and this should be obvious – check the contractor’s portfolio and find out more about their personal style of work. Website design is very much down to personal taste and artistic preference, and good website design is not always easy to come by. Go through some web design ideas together and make sure that your contractor is comfortable with your brief before agreeing to anything.

After you’re satisfied you’ve made the right choice, draw up a contract with your web designer and ensure that you are both happy with fees, milestone payments and deadlines. Any web designer worth his salt will be communicative, forthcoming and full of exciting web design ideas for your project. The best way to know you’ve hired the right guy for the job is when their enthusiasm for your project is just as infectious as your own. Good luck!