11 Oct Proceed With Caution: Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring A Web Developer
Website design is a little bit like auto repair. Everyone needs it, but few people have enough familiarity with the technicalities of the job. It really comes down to having trust with the person on the other side of the desk or counter.
Unfortunately, there are lots of people in both professions who have taken advantage of this lack of knowledge. We wrote this mini guide with that problem in mind. Our hope is that the information we share will help you to avoid these mistakes when hiring a website designer.
Paying Too Little or Too Much
Cost is a real bugaboo. A business website costs thousands of dollars, and there’s just no way around that fact. That level of investment can be offputting, and that’s given the rise in cheap (that’s both in price and quality) website building tools such as Squarespace, Wix and Weebly.
To revisit the car analogy, purchasing a Squarespace account is like buying tools, metal, rubber, glass and plastic/fiberglass and then building your own car. Can it be done? Yes, if you have the time and patience to teach yourself how to do it. At the end of the day, unless you are extraordinarily talented or have significant experience, it’s going to look cobbled together.
Can it work? Sure.
But this is how you are choosing to represent your business online.
It is just as bad as hiring a firm that advertises “professional” websites for under $1,000. You’re going to get a cookie cutter site, and they’re going to upcharge for all kinds of extras on the backend. In the end the final product is going to look like crap.
If you’re in a B2C business, a cheap website is death to consumer confidence. Building your own site (without significant expertise in web design) or hiring a website mill to create the focal point of your online presence is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
On the flip side the attitude that if $5,000 buys a great site, a $15,000 site will land my business on the cover of Forbes. While it’s true that a well designed website can keep visitors on your site longer, increase conversions, extrapolate scripts to maximize automated processes, and gather user data to provide you with invaluable marketing insights. There are limits to what design can do, and many designers don’t want you to know that.
The unfortunate truth is that designers will use jargon to intimidate clients into paying waaaaaaay more than necessary. For example, a mechanic recommending a new air filter with every oil change “to prevent intake corrosion” (car maintenance hint: mechanics made that one up).
Trust your gut: If it feels like a web designer is overselling what their design can do for your site, they probably are.
Hiring a Designer Who Isn’t Also A Developer (or vise versa)
If you’re considering a solo designer, ask them about their background during the preliminary conversation. Listen closely for language they use in regard to websites being works of art. If they speak in these terms, be very discerning when you look at their portfolio. You’re probably dealing with an artist.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but one pattern we’ve noticed is that designers with an artistic mind frequently lose sight of the purpose of business websites.
Everyone wants a beautiful website. Although, it may look like an Aston Martin, it will perform like a Ford Pint. If someone visits your website and their first reaction is “Wow, what a beautiful site!” instead of “Wow! I need this product/service”, then you’ve purchased a “lemon.”
Building a Site Without a CMS
Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla make it possible to manage some basic functions of your website on your own. There’s not a clear car analogy for this pitfall, but sites that aren’t built around a CMS mean that for small things like changing photos, adding a blog post, or make a quick change, you have to go through the designer.
Just make sure they’re using a CMS and confirm that they’ll show you how to use it. (When we build websites for our clients, part of the wrap-up process is a training and a step-by-step guide for making the updates they anticipate needing to make. Ask if the web designer if they’re willing to do that.)
Not Getting It In Writing
Most people know someone who once took their car in for a tire rotation and ended up replacing their transmission. Unethical designers will do the same thing: Lure you with low prices and then add huge upcharges at the end of the project. Make sure the initial service agreement outlines the total cost of the project, including future fees, like hosting and management (updates to CMS software, etc.).
Additionally, ask about their working process. When we work with a client, we do an initial draft of their site, and then a series of revisions so the site matches the client’s vision. If the designer takes your money, builds your website, then delivers it, but doesn’t have clear steps for collaboration and feedback, then walk away (unless they offer a money-back guarantee).
Not Planning for SEO
There’s no clear car analogy for this mistake either, but if your designer doesn’t know SEO, then your site is not going to rank well in search results, and that means you lose a HUGE amount of traffic. Ask them about how they’ve strategized for SEO when building previous sites. You may not understand all the lingo, but trust your gut on how they answer, and if it seem like b***s***, it probably is.
Not Designing for Mobile
Mobile web viewing has surpassed desktop web viewing, and yet- somehow- there are still designers building sites that aren’t optimized for viewing on mobile devices. The test for this is simple: Look at the designer’s portfolio, and access the sites they’ve created on your smartphone. If it’s hard to read or you have to scroll side to side to see everything, then they’re not designing for mobile, which is crazy. If prospects can’t easily view your business on their mobile phones, then you’re losing out on prospects.
At Cyber Fision, we have worked with hundreds of businesses and we know exactly how to maximize your return on investment on your internet presence.
Our team of marketing professionals, social media managers, engineers and SEO experts is here to increase the visibility of your website, capture the attention of potential leads, and convert these leads into paying clients.
Interested in picking our brain? Contact Us