Here are ten things you might look for when choosing someone to build your new website:
1) Communication - Virtually every horror story on the internet about someone's bad experience with a web developer, boils down to poor, ineffective, or even fraudulent communication. Do they outline their communication policy? Are they clear on what you will receive and what follow support is available?
2) Communication - Yes, it's important enough to list Communication again! Will they provide start date & estimated completion date? Will they update you over time, show you proofs and answer your questions? What methods can you use to talk to them? Who will you be talking to?
3) Portfolio - Do they provide samples of previous & current work in a wide variety of styles and levels of complexity? do they link to real, live websites? Do you like how they look and operate? Do they give you confidence that your needs will be well taken care of?
4) Experience - How long have they been on the development scene? Have they developed projects with features similar to what your business needs? Can they demo these features to you?
5) Specialization - Do they specialize in a certain sector of business? Do you require a specialist in your sector, with detailed knowledge of your industry?
6) Methodology - Do they first look at your entire business profile, including company, branding, content, competitors, clients, budget & timeline?
7) Timeline - How long will it take them to complete your website? How long to make future improvements and updates?
8) Pricing - Does their pricing structure provide great bang for your buck? Does it fit your budget? Does it work for you?
9) Referrals & Reviews - Do they offer reviews & testimonials, can you contact some of these previous clients?
10) Communication - Yes, really, again! If any of these above items turn out to be a problem or conflict or lacking, improved communication up front may have prevented them. Once a problem is discovered, communication is the only way to proceed towards a successful outcome.