Developer qualifications

Whichever method you use, take your time and make sure that the developer has the qualifications to do the various aspects of the site you need - or has access to specialists who have.

The myriad technologies used in Web development mean it is virtually impossible to find any one person qualified in all. Even the categories mentioned earlier can be broken down further - database programming could be either SQL Server or Lotus Notes/Domino based for example, or graphics expertise could be in traditional stills or Flash animation.

Although in the "artistic" areas of Web development there is little in the way of official qualifications, on the programming/database/Web server maintenance side, Microsoft and Lotus have official certification programs.

Qualifications should also extend to the developer's approach to the Web site's creation. In the past, this meant that someone created a site in a common authoring program, and posted it to a Web location so that the company which commissioned the site could view its progress and comment on development changes as the site was constructed.

According to Marek Samulski, a director of Incoso Digital who is responsible for sites including Masterton Homes and Makita Power Tools, this approach to Web site creation is no longer acceptable.

"A Web site must be treated like any other major project," says Samulski. "This means identifying the needs, the resources necessary, timeframes and so on. This requires further skills such as where to source appropriate specialist contractors when required, identifying hardware and software needs and many other of the project's requirements. In many, if not all, cases, this means one person on the Web development team's job is purely to oversee the project and make sure all facets are completed on time and within budget."

And once the site is completed and posted to the server, Samulski doesn't believe this ends the role of a good Web developer.

"We believe it is also our responsibility to assist in the marketing of the site and. . . to look for new ways to maximise the site's benefits by keeping up with new technologies that can be implemented. In effect, a Web developer's role in a site should never be completed."

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