4 common pitfalls of hiring a web designer and how to avoid making these costly mistakes.
Hiring a professional web designer or web design agency to create a custom built website for your business is a substantial financial investment. Especially if you’re a a new business and funds are tight. The last thing you want to do is blindly accept what the first person tells you and hand over your hard earned cash and not see the benefits a business website can provide.
4 Common Pitfalls
To help you choose the best fit for your business, here’s 4 common problems that business owners have with web design agencies and practical ways to avoid them:
If you’re a proactive business owner who wants to be able to quickly implement new ideas and strategies before your competition clue on then you’ll really value the fast and easy communication with your web designer. Unfortunately this is not always the experience of many busy business owners.
Common complaints about communication
Lack of support after building the website. This is especially relevant if you hired a web designer to build without ongoing maintenance or SEO. The ties are cut after the site is built, there’s nothing left in it for them to help you out.
Poor communication and taking forever to respond to emails – especially if you plan on maintaining the website yourself or consistently post new content or update the website.
Or perhaps you want to display a limited time promotion on your website, you want to be sure that you can get the support you require, when and where you need it.
Disappearing completely or going out of business (surprisingly common). Complete drop off of communication, unable to reach them.
Practical tips to avoid communication complaints:
Written agreement – this is so important, to have everyone on the same page.
Clearly outline the expectations, inclusions and agreement in writing as well as the agreed price for the job, this way you will be protected from the your budget being blown or receiving a finished product that does not meet your expectations.
Mode of communication– what mode of communication suits you? Email, phone, zoom?
Agree on a mode of communication that suits you so that you can streamline the communication and you won’t be bombarded with calls/emails/letters.
Your time is valuable.
Initial consultation period- use this period as a trial, how quick are they to respond to your emails? What kind of tone do they give you when they communicate with you?
Communication style in the consultation period: is the person you’re dealing with using jargon? Do you understand what they’re saying and implying? Do you feel comfortable communicating with this person? Whether they are a ‘sales person’ or the web designer themselves what vibe are you getting from them?
Remember that you are the customer, if your agency or designer is unwilling to meet you halfway then you can always take your business elsewhere.
2) Quality of work:
Quality of work will require the agency/designer to really understand what your business is about and what you want from this relationship.
Common complaints about work quality
Don’t take time to understand your business. They just want to sell. If you feel pushed or rushed through the process of creating an online strategy, you’ll end up with a website that doesn’t do your business justice.
Duplicate Copy: this is unfortunately very common with outsourced web design agencies. Duplicate copy is as the name alludes: a website that is literally a copy of another website with the only customisation ‘about us’ and the contact details. A generic website that you’ve most definitely seen before. No branding, nothing personalised.
Why is duplicate copy bad? It is against the webmaster guidelines of Google to have plagiarised content. When your website is found out to be duplicate your website will be penalised making it impossible for it to rank for search terms relevant to your business.
Being charged extra to make edits. Most reputable web design companies will provide multiple rounds of revision where you can request changes and edits to be made to ensure you’re completely satisfied with the end result. Unfortunately this is not always included as standard and many business owners are shocked to find out that they are being charged extra to make changes to their site!
Practical tips to avoid issues with work quality
Business consultation meeting: This initial business consultation meeting is crucial.
When a web designer takes the time to ask you tons of questions about your business, the intricacies, your story, your competition and then thoroughly researches your competition and your niche online, then and only then can a realistic and high quality online strategy be developed for your business. Otherwise you will get a cookie cutter website that doesn’t reflect your businesses uniqueness and you’ll end up with a same same website that blends in with your competition.
The initial consultation is really important to get your first impression and gut feeling for an agency or web designer.
Only accept a tailored strategy: No one size fits all here. Are you after a lame brochure that viewers become blind to because they’ve seen it all before? The power of the first impression. 5 seconds to grab your viewers by the eyes and wow them with your brand. Duplicate copy is a really common problem that business owners find after forking out for a website, for the investment that you’re putting into a website you deserve for it to be original.
Triple check your website before you pay the final instalment: When the project is completed and you’re having the last view before you pay the final instalment of your payment, have a very thorough look at your site.
Check all the functions, click all the buttons, fill out the contact form and see that it’s being redirected to the right email, notice the speed of the site, look at the images, the grammar, make sure all your phone numbers are correct. When you are happy with the outcome, then you pay the final instalment.
Reports: keep your web designer or agency accountable by the reports that they send you.
What work will they be doing on your website to get it moving towards your goals? How often will you receive updates or reports?
Even if you don’t read the reports, you still deserve to be given them. It’s your money, keep them accountable!
If your proactive and serious about your business then you need your tasks and projects you outsource to other professionals and contractors to be completed on time and on budget. Here are some of the common complaints that business owners have regarding deadlines.
Common complaints around deadlines
Not delivering by the deadline: the deadline (whether a date or a time period) is often established in writing in the initial consultation. This will depend on how urgently you require your website and something that will need to be negotiated with the designer beforehand.
Having a written agreement of the expected deadline for project completion and the consequences for delay explicitly defined will help keep everyone accountable.
In defense of designers, the delays are often due to clients not providing them with information they require to continue with the project e.g. (waiting for photos,‘about us’ content, sales copy, logos etc.)
Make sure you have all the content ready to go to ensure that you’re not the one delaying things
Overpromising and Underdelivering: if an agency or a designer is saying ‘yes!’ to everything, that is a warning sign, are they promising beyond what they are capable of delivering?
This also links back to blowouts in deadlines.
Practical tips to avoid being left hanging
A written agreement of the expected deadline for project completion and the consequences for delays explicitly defined will help keep everyone accountable.
Know who is responsible for what: know your own responsibilities with reaching the deadline. Did you agree to provide the content for the ‘about us’, the logo, the image? Fulfill your end of the agreement and the rest is up to them.
Initial business meeting: In the initial meeting ask yourself: Does what they are promising sound realistic? What is their plan to get the results? You don’t have to be an expert in the industry to see through marketing strategies! Trust your gut.
Testimonials: social proof. Look for testimonials that they deliver what they promise (if they don’t have any on their website, this is a warning sign), Ask about previous projects that they’ve worked on.
4) Money & Payments
Common complaints rearding money & payments
Take your money and run! Unfortunately this is common especially if you pay in full, upfront or if you haven’t met the web designer whether in person or through video chat, or by phone.
Lock in contracts: Thoroughly read the proposal/contract of sale. Know what you are signing up for and what investment it will require (this is mostly applicable to ongoing SEO). The last thing you want is to sign up for 12 months with a company that doesn’t add any value to your business. Before you sign up for a specified time period, ask if they are willing to back up their work with a guarantee or how they will deliver on the promises they make.
Practical tips to avoid getting taken for a ride with your money:
Payment options: What payment options does the web designer or agency offer? Is there an option to make a deposit and have staggered payments once you get the website finished and signed off? A staggered payment approach keeps the web designer financially motivated to provide high quality work within designated deadlines. It also keeps them motivated to implement the minor revisions that you request.
Guarantee: does this agency/web designer back up their work with a guarantee of some sort like ‘if we don’t reach the agreed goals, we will work for free until we do’?’ This is more relevant to ongoing SEO, keeping in mind that SEO often takes between 6-18months to get solid results for a website, what is the web designer or agency willing to put on the line to get you results?
Ultimately like many things in life there is no way to 100% guarnatee that you’ll be completely satisfied by the web designer you hire but doing a little bit of backgrouund research into the individual or company, gauging whether or not they will be a good fit based on your intital interations with them will give you a sense of whether or not to hire them to create your business website. Keep in mind that the age old adage of you get what you pay for applies in the web design industry as much as it does in others. If do decide to go down the cheap route just remember to keep your expectations in check.
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