What do Small and Medium Business Look for in a Web Developer
I have been in the business of making all types of websites for small and medium businesses and startups for 14 odd years.
That's a long time in this industry, considering the first recorded website went live in 1991 (you can see it preserved here http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html)
After all of these years, I have seen, and confirmed, a list of items that I know most of these clients are looking for in a web site. Rather than specific content, which will change from person to person, of course, I am looking here at service and design;
1/ Don't drag it out. No one wants to wait months and months to see a web site. You should be able to have at least a framework operating within a week.
2/ Help them on content. Most business owners and operators are really good at the business they are in. That rarely includes writing copy. Understand their business and their clients, then write the copy yourself based on good SEO practice and clear, understandable text that explains or sells the business
3/ Be responsive to their needs and don't try to hang on to an idea you have implemented just because you thought it looked good or was a good idea. As the person paying, they have the final say in all cases. Make sure though, if there is a good technical reason for something, that you explain this as clearly as possible.
4/ Speak and write with as little jargon as possible, and where you do use a phrase that they may not understand make sure you explain it in detail so they do understand. If you can't explain it then it is possible you don't understand it yourself, so don't use it.
5/ Remember the purpose of the website - being - to sell the client or their products (or something more specific you will get from them). It is not to show off your skill or expertise. If you do your job well this will come through anyway. The site is for your client, not your portfolio first and foremost.
6/ Once a job is complete be available to make changes or updates to fix technical matters. Charge extra by all means if it is outside the original scope, but do be available to get it done.
7/ A bit more out of sight of the client, but important none-the-less, stay up to date with the various technologies you use to design with, as well as design trends that are out there. No one wants a slow site, or one that is not responsive, or one that has no chance of ranking well due to poor design and so on.
There you have it. Not an exhaustive list, but a good summary none the less.
I don't claim to get it perfect all the time - in fact, I have made this list form my own mistakes and learning the hard way.
Do you have any specific ideas of your own that you might add to the list? Add to it on twitter (@esquaredesign)