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WEB COMPANIES YOU CAN TRUST

July 22 2013

I have just come out of a meeting where a couple who where starting out one their first business got totally ripped off by a web design company. This is not the first time that I have come across such a situation. Time and time again I hear horror stories from business start ups that have invested time and money with a web studio only to end up frustrated, deeply concerned about the future direction of their online venture/business and out of pocket. I can’t warn everyone about the dangers and pitfalls of working with an unknown web provider, but hopefully, if they are reading this blog article, I can point them in the right direction about how to find trustworthy web companies. These following tips will save them a lot of money and time and get started on the right foot for their website design project.

TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEBSITE DESIGN COMPANY

  1. Do they have a physical address? If they have a PO box only and no actual office address you can go to, then avoid them like the plague. More often than not, these guys who are working from outside Sydney and can even be outside Australia. This can only lead to issues when it comes to design standards, coding issues and taking on board and implementing feedback. A point to note here is if on their ‘contact us page’ they only have a contact form with a few fields, this is a huge red flag. You do not know where the email is going to or who will be working on your website. Please take this as a strong word of warning. Keep your web site local and use local providers to avoid the obvious traps and disasters that will await you.
  2. Are they requesting money up front with no face to face meeting. Handing your credit card details over the phone or via a form with no formal briefing or scoping meeting, is a sign of high pressure sales tactics. Sales reps and business development people looking for a quick sign up and commitment will be the first to turn their back on you once an issue arises. Many web companies that you may find by doing a search on Google will have sales people who’s pay is determined on the amount of businesses they can sign up. Make sure you are not one of them.
  3. Going For The Cheapest Isn’t The Best. You may be tempted to go for a cheap option, but the costs you may sav e now may end up hurting you later on. Web companies prey on innocent people and will often offer extremely competitive pricing to get your business. Bet once they have you, then the price slowly starts to increase for everything that has to do with your website. You might want to change a graphic, or add a paragraph. This will be charged to you at premium rates. They will even add on a monthly hosting or maintenance fee without telling you about this upfront. The issue here is that you can’t bring up all hidden future costs as you don’t know what they will be and they won’t tell you what they are. They will creep these up on you without warning. The solution here is to go with a web studio that is not necessarily the cheapest.

DOES YOUR WEB DEVELOPER UNDERSTAND ONLINE MARKETING?

Most web designers will have a very basic understanding about online marketing or search engine optimisation. SEO is going to be a critical factor in the success of driving online users to your site. The best way to do this is having a clear cut SEO campaign and the best way to implement this is via a web company that has done this before. SEO needs to be implemented from the design phase up, and cannot be done retrospectively. SEO on it’s own has a very bad name and most businesses have either been burnt in the past by SEO cowboys and have little or no faith in what SEO/Web Companies will say. The trick here is to meet with these guys and make them prove to you what they can do. Make them show samples of their past SEO victories and never sign up to anything longer than a 3 month contract. Also, never separate the 2 disciplines. Your web company should do your SEO – never the other way round. Also, SEO comes at a premium price. If you expect to rank on Google and stay there, then you need to pay accordingly.

TRUST WEB STUDIOS THAT HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS A WHILE.

The question here is; what is a while? A while is long enough to have a viable, good looking past portfolio of work that you can see at least online. If they can point you to their past clients and you can see at least 10 websites then this is a good sign. An issue that may arise is if you go with a web start up or freelancers, these guys may fold, go under or go back packing and leave your website high and dry. You can mitigate this issue by working with a company that has a good track record, established client base and one that is unlikely to disappear half way through your project. A good way to keep these guys hones is pay on project milestones or performance rather than a flat 50% upfront fee. If they have a good chunk of your money there is the incentive to walk away if the project goes pear shaped or they get a better offer.

ARE YOU TRUSTING YOUR WEBSITE WITH A RELATIVE OR A FRIEND OF A FRIEND.

Again, this is recipe for disaster. Relatives doing your website as a favour will be less motivated to finish the job, preferring to go out with mates and friends of friends doing the job on the cheap will unlikely complete the site based on financial rewards. If you are seriously considering using a relative, best know that if the web relationship will carry over to a personal level. Also, what experience do they have in ensuring that your site ticks all the boxes to rank, maintain users and drive sales.

TRUST EQUALS OPENNESS?

Trust is about laying everything on the table and letting you decide. It’s all about informing you of what are the best web and online solutions for your business without being afraid of cost reactions. Getting truthful, open information that is transparent and upfront will be the best solution for your business. You would want your accountant or lawyer to operate in the same manner, so why not your web developer?