Finding the Best Web Development Firm for Your Startup

Finding the Best Web Development Firm for Your Startup

Originally published in SoCalCTO by Tony Karrer.

I’ve written before about finding Web Development Firms in Los Angeles. What I didn’t discuss was how you should go about selecting the right company. I just got an email asking about exactly this:

“I’m with a new company that needs some software built, but doesn’t need (or have the resources for) a large staff of software developers. They’ve been in talks with some consulting companies, but don’t quite the know the criteria for evaluating them and things like references(and where to get them).”

So here are some thoughts on selecting the right firm.

What Do You Need

It’s critical to know what kind of skills you really need. Different firms will have very different skill sets:

You will find firms that are design/interface heavy and light on development. Others that are heavier on development. Some will have some specific skill sets. You may find that you want a combination of these skills and want to look at finding them in different people/firms.

Most of the rest of the post is going to focus more on finding development rather than design firms. If you need user interface and/or graphic design, that’s a slightly different selection process. Some of what I have below applies. And you will want to make sure you see what the particular designers have done, samples of their work product, their process, etc. Make sure you know who will be doing the actual work.

Selection Criteria

Here is what I would be looking for:

Problem Signals

All of the following are signals to me that there may be risks/issues:

What’s your process for finding a web development firm? Tell us about it comments below.

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Dr. Tony Karrer works as a part-time CTO for startups and midsize software companies providing—helping them get product out the door. He is considered one of the top technologists in e-Learning, but over his 20 years; experience as a CTO he has worked on many different kinds of startups including being the original CTO for eHarmony for its first four years. Dr. Karrer taught Computer Science for eleven years. He has also worked on projects for many Fortune 500 companies including Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Canada, Citibank, Lexus, Microsoft, Nissan, Universal, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Fidelity Investments, Symbol Technologies and SHL Systemhouse. Dr. Karrer was valedictorian at Loyola Marymount University, attended the University of Southern California as a Tau Beta Pi fellow, one of the top 30 engineers in the nation, and received a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science. He is a frequent speaker at industry and academic events. Contact Tony at

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