You want something that’s beautiful, but you would also like it to be affordable, effective, and easy to manage. When you buy a website, you’re also buying into the company you choose and the experience of working with them. I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories—someone hires a company or individual to develop their website, and either receive a website that doesn’t work for them, or they run off with your money after hitting a snag.
At Epic Nine, we hear this story all too often. We absolutely hate hearing these stories, and we don’t want anyone to go through that. Whether you choose us or one of our well-respected colleagues here in Maryville, here are few red flags to watch out for when shopping around for your new website.
Watch out for “Specialists”
Not just anyone who claims to be a website designer can help you achieve your goals. A web development company doesn’t need a fancy office and large staff to be legit, but they do need to be knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of skills; including; graphic design, web development, SEO, and marketing. Many claim to be “specialists,” but don’t just take their word for it. Also, check if there is a contact phone number on their website. A developer that will only communicate via email or chat is hiding something. If the web developer is in your locality, they should also be willing to meet with you.
Keeping their ducks in a row
Any decent web design company should have a great website themselves, right? If they don’t have an effective website, if their business is building professional websites for other businesses, there is no excuse for not developing one for themselves. People will visit your website on a wide range of devices, and it needs to look great and function perfectly on all of them from great design and functionality, as well as being responsive. You need to know that your new agency is capable of creating the kind of responsive website you need. If they don’t do it for themselves, how do you know they can do it for you?
Web design companies usually use their own websites to show off some of their best tricks, after all, it’s a chance for them to demonstrate what they can do.
Check their portfolio
Legit web design companies need to have a portfolio of their work, period. If they don’t have a portfolio, they’re either not proud of their work or they aren’t very experienced. Be very cautious with these companies or individuals! Be sure to check out their Google Reviews as well. Not everyone leaves reviews, however those that are either extremely happy or upset typically do. Reviews are a great indicator of how well a company usually delivers. Read the reviews as well, when a company has a ton of 5 star reviews with no feedback, it can sometimes mean they have bought their reviews.
Lack Of Transparency
Your agency should be open to sharing data, and not after it’s filtered through their systems. Expect access to your analytics and AdWords account. Expect straight answers with data and results to back it up. Most importantly, expect the truth. Your agency won’t always have great news. If things are always sunshine and roses, beware. Things will go wrong and that’s OK, with transparency and trust.
One more important point – if you ever need to leave your web design company, an open-source CMS makes it much easier to take your site with you uninterrupted. Too many times, we hear stories of clients who got a “cheap” site and ended up realizing they actually didn’t own it.
The Low Ball Bid and The Promise of Specific Results
Big custom software projects come with a decently sized price tag, so it’s always a game of trying to find the highest quality development for the lowest price. All developers know this, and we all want to win a sale for our team. That’s the way business works, and that’s why you can expect variation in bid amounts from different development companies. That’s not necessarily the red flag, but a low ball bid certainly is. While this might seem great, you can find yourself stuck and beware of the company that only wants to make a sale. Once the bid is in and you’re hooked, that company now has to build what they promised. And to keep their internal costs down to match the low bid, they may sacrifice quality or testing or timeline. So be cautious of the company desperate to make a sale.
Just like all other industries, there are those who will overcharge and those who try to undercut the competition. When you pay a pittance for your website, you will make it up in other ways – after all, the company has to make a profit somehow.
Any agency that promises you specific results is just trying to get you through the door. There is no secret sauce to marketing, it’s all about testing and finding what works best for each client. You can absolutely pull learnings from past clients and test them with current clients, but in no way does that guarantee positive results. If an agency is promising you the world, kindly decline.
Bringing it all together
To wrap up, your prospective web developer should be asking questions about your marketing goals and the functionality you need to properly scope your new website. You should also be able to ask them questions about their company; they should not get defensive about you asking too many questions. You are the client and have a right to know what to expect from them and when. You also have a right to vet them as being suitable for your business.
Once your project begins, the web development company should take charge of the project by asking questions that help them completely understand you and your business.
You need someone who can explain things that you don’t understand in your language without being condescending, and make the web principles you do need to know accessible.
The best solution for most businesses is to hire a reputable web design company with a substantial portfolio and customer reviews that will take your budget into account and find high-quality solutions. We’d love for that to be us, but as long as you don’t get ripped off, we’ll be happy!