Posted 04.15.2011

How To Find the Right Designer / Developer (Part 1)

I’m currently in the Dream Year program that Ben Arment is doing. He has all of us divided into tribes based on the types of projects that we’re doing. I’m part of the community tribe.

The thing about my project is that I’ve actually been working on it for the past copule of years. I’m definitely further along in the process than everyone else, but it has allowed me the opportunity to help those in my tribe learn from my experiences.

The questions that I’ve gotten over the past month or so has been about development. How do you find the right designer / developer? This is your dream, you want to make sure that the person you’re entrusting your site with will handle it with care. You want to make sure you’re being charged appropriately. And that the end result is exactly what you had in mind, something that you’re proud of.

I’ve been fortunate, in that I’ve been able to do all the design / development work for myself. But, how do I coach someone else that is going through that process? My next set of 101 posts is aimed at them. I want to help them and others like them.

So, let me start off with: In order to find the right person, you must understand what you need.

Let me start from my perspective: the designer / developer. I’ve run into clients before that didn’t know what they wanted, or even needed. How can I meet expectations when there are none? Neither one of us are set up for success!

One of the first things I do when I meet a potential client is ask them a series of questions to help them define the scope of the project.


  • describe your company
  • describe the concept, product, or service you are aiming to promote
  • the deadline for completion of the project
  • budget for the project


  • who do you consider as your competition?
  • where are your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • aside from direct competitors, what other companies have stellar creative the inspires you or you wish to emulate?
  • what makes your company stand apart from the competition that we can highlight?


  • describe your primary audience
  • why do you think your audience chooses you over your competitors?
  • what should be the goal or actions of your audience?
  • if you had to describe your company in one-word adjectives, what would they be?
  • what should they be?

Look, Feel, and Functionality

  • are there any colors that you wish to use? or stay away from?
  • social media: what do you like? dislike? want? not want?
  • will your website require media components like video, audio, podcasts, and photo galleries?
  • how many pages will the site consist of? (please list)
  • will the content need to be updated regularly? if the answer is no, is it important that you have the ability to update the site yourself?

DISCLAIMER: Most of these questions were taken from Weightshift’s questionnaire. They do some fantastic work.

The client’s answers to these questions tell me what site structure they have in mind, what style they’re thinking, what’s important to their company, who their target audience is, etc. The saying is true: “Communication is Key.” My job as a good developer / designer is to ask the right questions, to make sure I understand the client and they understand me.