The Pitfalls of Choosing a Bad Web Designer
When you choose a web designer who turns out bad it can be disastrous. It can end up costing a fortune in money (fixing their mistakes) and cause a lot of stress. When I speak to other business owners who’ve had a bad experience with their web designer, I almost want to cry. Often it’s because they were never aware the pitfalls they fell into were even possible. They didn’t know to ask about them in the first place. Sometimes, they were chosen just because they were the first person they came across who could build websites and they liked them as a person. Some even did go to lengths researching different web designers but didn’t know what to look out for.
Unfortunately bad web designers don’t advertise that they are bad or have neon signs above their heads warning the unsuspecting public that they’re not that good.
How to choose a good web designer
To help you avoid getting hit by a bad web designer, I’ve put together 5 questions that will help you side step some main pitfalls that trip up innocent solopreneurs and new start ups. These are a good starting point when choosing a web designer for your web project.
What websites have they done before
Including, what does their own website look like? This research you can do before contacting them. You want to see if what they’ve done is something you’d like for yourself. What flow and feel does it project? Can you understand the business represented within 3 seconds of visiting? Are there clear calls to action. What functionality is there in the way of forms, sign ups, autoresponders, social sharing, blogging. Do they understand online marketing or is their strength in clever coding and fancy wizzy gizmos?
When you get to the stage of speaking to them, you also need to know who did the artwork and copy writing. Not all websites are the same and there are many routes to a finished website. Websites can be coded from scratch or built with ready-made templates. They can also be a mix of the two – customised template.
When coded from scratch they’ll cost most because a developer who can code is also involved. Every bit of functionality will need testing to make sure it works on different browser platforms and devices. Because of this, expect the web build to cost more.
It’s not necessary to have a website built from scratch. Unless you’re building something that is quite unique, a template based website will have all the functionality built and tested and be far more cost effective. A web designer who can manipulate a ready-built template in WordPress will also be able to add other functionality like secure areas for members, payment gateways, e-commerce etc. I wrote an article about templates v/s build from scratch here.
What amends will I be able to make myself
After the web build is complete you may want to amend or add more pages. You should not have to rely on the designer to make future amends. Whether you want to do the amends yourself or delegate them to your VA, it is necessary to have access to the back end and the back end should be simple enough to navigate and affect the changes you want.
Building the website is profit to the web designer. Once they’ve finished yours, they’re on the next web build and more profit. They don’t make much money from making small amends afterwards which means your work is no longer their priority and you could be left waiting weeks and months to see your changes done.
You need to specify that your website is built with a Content Management System (CMS). That way you (or your assistant) can access the back end to make changes. WordPress is the platform that I recommend and use for all my web building clients and it’s what I teach in my Biz Website Course. WordPress has a simple to use backend and when I hand over a finished website to a client, I also let them have access to the training videos in my Web Building Course so they can do future changes themselves.
Who will do the build
Do they outsource to freelancers or do they have staff on payroll. Where are they located – locally or abroad? Who checks the work before they send it to you.
There are some brilliant technical people that can be found abroad. The wages are much lower and the theory is your web build will be cheaper, which may be true. However, differences in time zones can affect the speed at which your build is complete. Getting your instructions understood when English is not their first language can cause a huge problem, particularly if they’re also writing the copy for your website.
What quality control procedures do they have in place to make sure you’re not wasting your valuable time checking grammar and spellings and whether links work!
If speed is of the essence, then choose a web designer where the build will take place locally in your country.
Who will own the domain
The domain is the name you give your website. It’s the bit between the www and .com (or .co.uk). Many web designers will offer to buy your domain on your behalf for convenience. If you’ve never owned a website before or feel it’s too technical for you to comprehend, having your web designer sort that out for you might seem very convenient, but it’s not in your best interest. What if you fall out with them or they go out of business. Worse still, what if they die unexpectedly? It’s vital that you own it and have control over it.
There’s no technical reason why your web designer should own your domain. If they try and convince you otherwise, then take that as a red flag and steer well away.
Same as the domain. There are some web designers who will offer (and some insist) on hosting your website too. This way they can protect themselves from clients who don’t pay their bills. They simply threaten to switch off your site.
But what happens if you fall out with the designer? They have the power to ‘switch off’ your website regardless of who’s in the right. What if they go out of business or die?
Here’s another tactic some use: they can’t guarantee the performance of their website if it’s not built on their server. Here’s the thing. They most likely rent server space off a larger supplier and if something goes wrong with that (which it can and does), they could take the stance that it’s beyond their technical skills to fix and not their responsibility (which was my experience!).
It is far better to own your own hosting and they build the website on your hosting account. Any competent web designer can sort out any technical problems with the hosting company. Most reputable hosting companies have help desks and I’ve been able to sort out technical issues on behalf of my clients.
Just like for domain registration, steer clear of any web designers who insist they host for you.
So there you have 5 main pitfalls to avoid when choosing a web designer. If you are looking for a web designer but you’re not sure how to proceed, then take advantage of a free 30 minute web tech strategy call. In the call we’ll get clear on what you want to achieve and what web tech you need to get there the easiest simplest way. At the end of the call you’ll be clearer on your next steps. Book a call here.