How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By a Web Design/Development Company
“My developer took the deposit and vanished.”
“My developer won’t give me access to the files I paid for.”
“My developer doesn’t have the knowledge to complete my website.”
“They didn’t complete the website and now they won’t return my calls.”
“The designer never understood our brand.”
At least once a week a potential client will tell us a horror story of past experiences with web designers and developers. In a world where there are seemingly unlimited design firms and freelancers willing to take on your project, your challenge is selecting one who can understand your vision and execute on it.
Keep reading for our advice to help you avoid getting ripped of by web development and design companies:
Avoid “Fly by Night” developers:
These are usually one-person shops who may or may not outsource web design and development. If they do NOT outsource, you should beware because these “jack-of-all-trades” may be good at one thing but are probably not experts at all the necessary tasks required to build a successful website; strategy, branding, interface architecture, visual design, marketing and programming. Also, if these one-person-shops decide to go on vacation, get hit by a bus, lose interest, etc., that can mean your project will suffer. So say “no thanks” to your friends friend or your cousin Ernie who promises they can deliver a complete website on their own.
Another web developer you’ll want to avoid is a one-person shop that uses the outsource model. The person you see will be a combination salesperson and project manager. Once they get your project they will quickly outsource it to (insert name of foreign, low-wage country here). Although the outsource country is probably good at slapping together templates, they really have no knowledge, nor do they care about your brand, target clients, etc., so you will probably end up with a weak, unfocused web solution that will need updating sooner than not.
Proprietary and Hosted Solutions
Avoid web companies that build your site using their own proprietary framework. They may dazzle you with lots of cool, built-in features and a low setup cost tied to a monthly “maintenance” fee. But if they are building your website on a framework that they developed and own, if you ever have a falling out or need to move your website somewhere else you’re SOL (shit-out-of-luck). Because they own the code, the most they will probably give you is a dump of your text content and you’ll have to start from scratch with another developer.
Be prepared, it works for the boy scouts – it can work for you too. Have a clear idea of what you want to build before you get estimates. By giving web firms a clear list of your requirements, there is less possibility of communication problems and missed expectations. Also with a requirements list, web firms will be giving you estimates you can compare because they are bidding on the same project and not just assuming they know what you want (or trying to sell you on features you don’t need). Get multiple quotes and rates from several developers to determine the industry standard for your type of project. Be sure you get a concrete estimate prior to beginning work. Don’t hesitate to ask your potential provider anything that is unclear.
Research their reputation:
You should research the web firms you are considering. Here’s a handy tip: search for the business name in quotes on Google. You may just come across a forum post from someone telling you to beware! Ask how long they have been in business and for references or case studies on projects similar to your own. Another good idea is to check with the Better Business Bureau online to see if they are certified.
Test their customer service:
One way to test a web design firm’s customer service is to see how well they respond to your phone calls and emails during the initial consultation phase. If it takes them a week to answer an email from a prospective client, imagine how long it will take after they have your money. Keep in mind that most web designers and developers are not professional project managers and customer service experts, so you’ll want to consider how the company functions and exactly who you will be dealing with for each phase of the process.
Consider the future:
Keep in mind that there may be new features and functionality you’ll want to implement into future versions of your website. Be sure to discuss the options of building a site that allows for upgrades and future integration. What if you have to make a minor change or revision to your site after the initial work is complete?
Ensure that once the project is launched, that the developers will provide you with all technical information to access the backend of the site and graphical assets so that you have the freedom to hire different providers if you so choose.
These are just a few of the many factors that can help you choose the right web professional and avoid getting ripped off.
If you ready to get your business online or would like to update your current web presence call our office today at (310)-754-3807 to schedule a free website consultation to get you started! To get more information about the Executionists’ strategy or development process, or to learn more about our other Internet services please visit us online today!
Also check out a Serbo-Croatian translation of this blog post at Webhostinggeeks! Web Hosting Geeks University Project has become the Internet’s most widespread web hosting directory to offer free educational resources and scientific material translated from different languages.