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Holmes on Developers

In fact, this applies to any job anywhere. Do you want the people helping you to be knowledgeable? Yes. Do you want them to care? Yes. Holmes divides contractors into three types: the good, the bad and the ugly. “The good, there are no more than 20 per cent,” he says. “The bad, 70 per cent, the ugly, 10 per cent.” Again, this is just like web development. The good are constantly training and educating themselves, and also have personal integrity. The bad may know how to write build a site and get it running, but “unfortunately just don’t know enough, and they don’t care enough, because they don’t have the same integrity as the good.” The ugly are genuine ripoff artists, smooth-talkers who “can sell fridges to eskimos” and scam people out of tens of thousands of dollars, again and again. How do you protect yourself against bad or ugly developers? Do your homework, and don’t be in a hurry to get your site up and running. “A sure sign somebody (who) doesn’t know what they’re doing is when they don’t walk in the door, presenting themselves as a professional, and hand you a list of references right there,” he says. “I’m sorry, pros don’t do that. Pros walk in and they have a portfolio package of who they are and why they’re that way. Remember, they’re almost anal because they care about what they do, they’re perfectionists.” Holmes says a pro will say ” ‘Here’s at least 20 references, please phone each and every one of them. Ask them a ton of questions. You want to go see them? Go see them. Let’s talk about what you want to do and we’ll come back and talk about price later.’ That’s a pro.” How many freelance web developers have you met who’ll do that? None? I thought so. “(The bad is) the guys who walk in and go ‘Yeah, I’m Joe. Whattya want, whattya want?’ They don’t write anything down, they don’t seem to know anything, and they say ‘That’ll cost 10 grand, and I want nine grand down now.’” How much should you give as a down payment? “Well, rule of thumb is you don’t give them any money on the very first day. But the second day, if they’ve presented themselves again with professionalism, I would say 10 per cent down, absolute max. Remember, you’re only tying up your time, because they’re going to schedule. “Then you’ve got to look at how much is that? Is the job $100,000, should you really give them $10,000? Maybe not more than $1,500. (Create) a cap on how much you’re going to give them down before they actually start building the website. “Once they start the job, that’s when you give them 10 per cent. Then just pay them in milestones, because it makes logical sense. Pay as the work is being done.” You also should hold back some money at the end of the job, to make sure everything has been done right. “The lien act was designed on purpose, and it says hold back 10 per cent,” he says. Unfortunately, this act does not apply to websites and web development, even though it may be as costly as building or renovating a house. “You want to hold back 10 per cent for 45 days, and the reason it’s 45 days is the company has a right to lien you for 45 days after the last day of work. So hold that money back, make sure nothing goes wrong. A pro will let you do it anyways.” “Never (completely) pay them. Because if you do, trying to get them back in your door is probably not going to happen.” Mike also says “This is not just a job. I do this because I love it.”Loving your job is great, but it won’t make you the best. To be the best you have to really care about what you produce, and it has to be of high quality. Quotes from Canwest News Service