20 Signs Your Web Designer is Terrible

  • May 13th 2013
  • by Marvin Russell
20 Signs Your Web Designer is Terrible

It’s been 10+ years since I built a website for my first client and I’m not ashamed to say that back then I was a terrible web designer. I was terrible for many years and for many different reasons. In fact, everything you’ll see below, I was guilty of. However, I eventually learned how to perfect the web designing process the hard way, through determination, research and lots of experience. Today, I think it’s safe to say I’m a very good web designer. If you don’t believe me, ask Inc Magazine, Crain’s Business, CBS, ABC, and NBC. Because they’ve all asked for my opinion and advice multiple times on this subject.

I constantly see many web designers making the same mistakes I made 10 years ago so I hope this article will help web designers and those who have or are going to hire a web designer. So, if you’re building a new website for your company, here are 20 ways to tell if your web designer is terrible. If you’re a web designer, pay close attention, print this blog post, email it to yourself, or bookmark it as a reference, because here are 20 ways you can tell if you are terrible.

1. The price is under $1,000 bucks

cheap-web-designIf your website is costing you less than a $1,000 bucks, then chances are your web designer is terrible and your website will be terrible too. We all wish we could spend $1,000 dollars and make millions, but if it were that easy everyone would do it.

Stop being cheap, because, you get what you pay for. You could easily buy a car for $1,000 bucks but again, you get what you pay for. If you still think your website should be under $1,000 bucks, eventually you will come crawling back to the web designer that was too expensive. Only now you’ll have to pay for a good web designer + the costs of your really cheap web designer.

Common Question:
How much to build a website?

My common answer:
Well, how much does it cost to build a house?

 

free-web-design-contract-tool

2. The “Headset Hottie”

Headset HottieA Headset Hottie is a joke amongst digital marketers. It’s a stock photo of an attractive female with a headset on, ready to take your call. This photo can usually be found on your contact page, in a sidebar, or sometimes even in the header. Terrible web designers have been adding images like this to websites for years. A Headset Hottie won’t increase sales or phone calls. It will only make your website look cheap and silly. So be careful, because your website could end up featured on a website like headsethotties.com.

3. No weekly call

Momentum is the energy and excitement that every new website project starts off with. It’s critical to maintain momentum throughout the course of a web design project. The second your web designer loses regular contact is the second you lose the project’s momentum. Your web designer should be in contact with you weekly if not daily, and if they are not, demand it and agree on a meeting time and day each week until the project is complete.

4. You found ‘em on Craigslist

no-craigslistI advertised for business on Craigslist about 6 or 7 years ago when I was still a terrible web designer. From my experience, I learned that Craigslist is where cheap people can find other cheap people. Of course, every rule has it’s exceptions and I do occasionally post on Craigslist’s job board to see what’s out there but very rarely do I get the quality I’m looking for.

So, if you found your web designer on Craigslist you’re probably also breaking rule #1, by being cheap.

…sorry Craig

5. No copywriting solution

Creating content for your new website is the biggest challenge every client faces. It’s also the #1 cause for delays (in my 10 years of experience). A good web designer will be prepared with a solution and warn you about this at the kickoff meeting.

Possible copywriting solutions:

  • Client creates all content (be careful this takes time and dedication)
  • Client offers an internal resource (a copywriter on their staff)
  • Client hires a freelance copywriter
  • Web designer offers an internal solution (a copy writer on their staff)
  • Web designer offers a freelance copywriter

6. Your web designer’s #1 goal is creativity

Creativity should not be the #1 goal for your website. In a survey by HubSpot, 76% of users said that the most important factor in the design of a website is that “The website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Only 10% of users said, “beautiful appearance” was the most important thing to them. Organization of content was their number #1 concern for websites, not creativity. The more organized your content is the longer users will stay. The longer users stay, the more likely they will buy. So, make sure your web designer’s priorities are correct.

Web Design

7. Your web designer is related to you

web-designer“Never hire anyone you can’t fire.” You should know better than to hire a relative to work for you in the first place, let alone build your website. However, if you do decide to hire a family member to build your website, they will probably give you an “unbelievable” discount. If they’re a pro, that’s great news; however, the bad news is that the project eventually won’t be worth their time, and you will eventually end up on the back burner.

8. Your web designer is YOU!

Peep author at conversionxl.com says, “If you designed your website yourself and you’re not a designer, it sucks”. It takes years of experience to perfect what we do. You can’t learn this trade in a few hours.

Peep, I couldn’t agree more!

9. You built it using a web design tool

Anyone can learn how to use a cheap web design tool in an hour or so but you can’t learn what a good web designer has learned with years of experience. In other words, learning how to use a website builder won’t teach you how to design a web site that will get targeted traffic, conversions, and sales.

In addition, just because you learned how to use Photoshop doesn’t mean you’re a good web designer. I’ve received so many resumes with people who know the Adobe Suite like the back of their hand, but their work sucks. Again, it takes years of experience to not be a terrible web designer.

10. No project management software

basecamp Project management software keeps everything organized and in one central location for everyone to easily find. It assigns tasks, keeps timelines, organizes assets and holds everyone accountable for their responsibilities.  I couldn’t imagine a web designer not using project management software. But if this is the case, dump your web designer, because he or she is terrible.

What’s my favorite Project Management software? Basecamp

11. They don’t ask enough questions

Your web designer should ask you lots of questions, especially before they start working on your project. They should ask everything about your 3C’s (Company, Competitors, and Clients). Questions should start during the initial sales meetings and kickoff meeting, and then continue throughout the strategy phase of your project. No questions is a RED FLAG and the sign of a terrible web designer.

10 sample questions:

  1. What are your primary and secondary goals for your website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Describe your typical client.
  4. Who are your online and offline competitors?
  5. Are you doing any marketing offline?
  6. Where is your target audience (local, national, global)?
  7. Do you have brand guidelines?
  8. Do you have a content writer available?
  9. What kind of assets will you provide? (photo, videos, images, brochures)
  10. Can we access your current site analytics?

 

12. They have too many clients

I used to be guilty of this a lot. I had way too many clients and I could not focus properly on any of them. Therefore, they all suffered. I would jump back and forth on different projects, while ignoring others. It was horrible and stressful. Projects were constantly late and clients were not happy.

Solution:

If you’re a web designer and your goal is to make $500,000 this year, focus on getting 10 clients at $50,000 per project, rather that 50 clients at $10,000 per project. This will give you the same revenue, but with less clients, less phone calls, less personalities, and less headaches.

13. No scope of work

A wise man in project management for 20+ years once told me that 80% of the problems that occur during a project occur because of a poor scope of work. A good scope of work details all work to be performed and delivered. It is critical that both parties agree to the scope of work before the project is executed.

14. No architecture strategy

wireframeLet’s say your family decides to build a dream house. Well, before you start actually building this house, you’re probably going to hire an architect to blueprint the house and all the rooms. Custom web design is very similar to building a house. Before designing any pages, your web design team should map out and wireframe (blueprint) each page of your website and get your approval before designing and developing.

15. No conversion strategy

Has your web designer helped you define what your primary and secondary conversions are? A conversion can be a phone call, email sign up, contact form, e-commerce purchase or a button being clicked. Your web designer should help you define what your conversions are.

Primary conversions are actual sales made on the site or inquiries for sales discussions through a contact form. Secondary conversions are typically forms that capture emails. Your web designer should ask how you want to be contacted and how clients typically prefer contacting you. After all, this is why you built your website.

16. They’re in your IT department

I blame clients and web designers for this one. Nothing is more frustrating than someone in IT calling our agency to inquire about a new website. Shouldn’t someone in marketing be calling us? I will never understand why companies associate IT departments with web design. As Ben Hunt of webdesignfromscratch.com “Web design is marketing”, not IT.

Do us all a favor. If you’re in IT and someone in your company asks you to help build the company website, humbly decline and recommend they talk to someone in the marketing department.

17. The handshaking image

hand-shakeThis is a big red flag. If you see this on your site take it down. I’m speaking of course about the infamous hand shake. This is usually a simple picture of two men shaking hands. It’s cheesy, a waste of space and draws wasteful attention.

18. No SEO strategy

Let’s say you wanted to open a new store that required lots of foot traffic. Would you let your real estate agent sell you a very nice storefront without knowing or telling you anything about the neighborhood? Me either. In other words, if your web designer doesn’t do SEO, they are terrible.

19. No CMS

I can’t think of any good reasons why your web developer wouldn’t build your website on a CMS (content management system). Not using a CMS is not going to save you money. In fact, it could be more expensive because a good CMS like WordPress is built on a framework that has prebuilt functionality saving you time and money.

20. They’re in a different country

outsourcing-web-designI’ve been developing professional websites for about 14 years and I promise that you will need experience to work with web designers and developers in other countries. Yes, they speak english and yes they are cheaper but if you don’t understand how to properly vet designers and developers in other countries you will most likely find a terrible web designer who doesn’t do any of the 19 items above, giving you a very frustrating and infuriating experience.

Conclusion

If you’re a web designer and you firmly disagree with anything I’ve said, there are exceptions to every rule. However, in my experience the above hold true a vast majority of the time. If you hire or fire your web designer by the above set of rules I can safely guarantee your website will be more successful and make you a lot more money.

  • John Bolyard

    “17. They’re in your IT department” This is my favorite. Yikes!

    • http://twitter.com/seogroup SEO GROUP

      lol – one of my favs too :)

  • Charlie

    Lol best list ever! Headset hottie.

    • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

      Glad you liked it :)

  • http://web-marketing-advisor.co.uk Pete Stevens

    Great post Marvin. Am I terrible? I am not a ‘designer’ – I don’t possess a copy of photoshop. I build sites based on template designs (Joomla or WordPress).

    I hope I include all the rest of your points; SEO design, understanding the clients business, target customer calls to action, built on a CMS etc, but not ‘Design’ – I can’t be good at everything ;) .

    There are some good looking templates that can be tweaked if necessary and this approach keeps the price down, sometimes to even less than $1000. Terrible?

    • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

      Pete,

      I’m talking probable versus possible. Of course, it’ possible you can get a great website for under $1,000, but it’s not probable.

      BTW, I am a huge fan of template design. You no longer need to be a photoshop expert to build a great website. Look out for my next post. It’s on that topic.

      • http://web-marketing-advisor.co.uk Pete Stevens

        phew! I’ll give it another week or two yet then ;)

        Look forward to your post… you’ve got me subscribing now… good work… I mean marketing!

        • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

          :)

          Keep it touch

      • PI Feed

        We do some sites at less than $1,000 to start off. Most of our clients don’t have a lot of money to get started, so we start our pricing at $500 for a basic layout and design.

        Then, after they see the difference of what they had before to what they have after we are done with a 2-3 page site, they usually want more pages.

        At the end of our design process, the websites we create range from $1,800 – $2,500. But we work with them and build a relationship.

        This is not including SEO or content production.

  • http://www.webcanvasdesign.co.uk/blog Andy Cresswell

    Im a web designer and developer, i dont work with any other people and complete all my work myself.

    I work on a hourly rate, but i also work VERY fast. My feel my cleints get a gooood deal out of me, while it will cost then more in the region of $1500. Alot of clients have told me to increase my working rate

    • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

      Charge more. Work Less.

      This takes a while to master and earn :)

      • http://www.webcanvasdesign.co.uk/blog Andy Cresswell

        So what you are saying is i should work slower and charge more so web design is not devalued?

        • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

          No, not all.

          I’m saying you have two choices if your goal is to make $1,000 per week (for example).

          1. You can work 40 hours at $25 per hour
          or
          2. You can work 20 hours at $50 per hour.

          The choice is yours :) Either way your going to make $1,000. Learn your craft to perfection so you can work smarter. Earning a higher hourly rate by no means devalues the service provided.

          • http://www.webcanvasdesign.co.uk/blog Andy Cresswell

            What im trying to say, is many clients work with cheaper people to start with, so automatically think web design is cheap.

  • swampscrapper

    14. …..”Before designing any pages, your web design team should map out and wireframe (blueprint) each page of your website and get your approval before designing and developing.”

    This to me is the equivalent of an architect drawing a detailed sketch of where each knot of pine will appear on the wood floor.

    There are some things that are overkill and create too much cost for your client. I would wireframe a homepage and 2 sample pages and get approval. From there your beta site should exist as a sandbox for development and refinement. Spending too much time on a static version of the site could be extremely time consuming and ineffiicient.

    • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

      Wire-framing is a key time saver.

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  • KevC1973

    Some good points here, however I have to disagree with your talking points on #19. No CMS.

    I can think of a hundred and one reason not to use a CMS, as well, I wouldn’t characterize WordPress as being a ‘good one’.

    For example, most developers whom use WordPress simply slap in 50 plug-ins for this and that, several have duplicate functionality and it’s hard to tell which one the site is actually using. There are no vetting processes for plug-ins, so despite the WordPress team’s diligence in respect to providing security updates, most of the plug-ins are poorly designed and implemented, even less supported.

    As a corporate level web site, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are never an option in my opinion. These days, security is not an option. Most businesses have regulations or compliance points to cover, and these can’t be covered when running a piece of software and plug-ins that haven’t been audited and signed off on.

    Just my opinion, but I wouldn’t run WordPress or any free CMS for anything other than a basic functional front-facing web site with zero functionality and interaction. It would be a one way information-out system in which has no user processing whatsoever.

    KevC
    RawInfoSec.com

    • Alexandru Berendei

      Very good point of view, but when an client want an website with relative complex functionality and with an short deadline and of course “limited” budget is hard to make something custom for him. I use Drupal for some years and I think that if the websites are updated and the server has all security updates, Drupal can be an pretty good solution at an low budget with an very extensible framework.

      • KevC1973

        As the old saying goes, “Those who can’t afford a Ferarri should buy a Toyota.” Or my favourite, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

        The cost of hardening and maintaining a server and Drupal adds costs to the ‘limited budget’ alternative to a full solution. The cost of failure on the cheaper solution is also quite high. This is one of the major problems facing our field, that low-end developers will cut corners to fit a client budget. Saying “No” once in a while doesn’t hurt.

        To close, another saying comes to mind. “If you think a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.”

        • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

          Hi Kev,

          I love that saying “If you think a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.”

          Thanks for the comment :)

          • Guest

            I know what you say but when u start developing with custom made software you push the clients to stay only with you. That’s why many clients prefer something that not chain them-self to the developer. And if clients like White House, SONY BMG, The Economist trust Drupal I don’t see why many smaller “corporations” can’t trust it.

            And for my personal taste i will prefer an BMW or an Toyota Supra at half with the price of Ferrari and similar performance and maybe more safety (I’ve seen many Ferrari’s of fire).

          • Alexandru Berendei

            That reply was for KevC1973, i’ve delete it from mistake.

          • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

            I always say that this industry has an easy entry to market.

          • KevC1973

            Clients like the White House and Sony can pay the big bucks to maintain the site code, the hosting environment and the network. All OSI layers are taken care of and no expense is spared. Just because they can use it does not mean Joe Blow from Idaho can slap Drupal on a GoDaddy server and expect any reasonable measure of security. Again, you get what you pay for, and if a developer cuts corners and provides a ‘budget’ service you can bet that service is not up to par with your other examples (White House et-al).

            It’s back to the same-old same-old. Technology is so dumbed down these days that anyone thinks they have the skills and resources to provide professional services when in fact they really don’t.

            If your client wants security, they pay for it.

          • Alexandru Berendei

            It’s all what I’ve told about, the budget is linked by time of delivery, facilities that application must have, security, UI Design and others. It’s all about what client decide where to cut down the costs.
            I can’t agree with you that you can make custom apps that have all the functionality that drupal have and the security of the framework, fast execution time and all off those with an low budget of developing and maintenance.

          • KevC1973

            A couple of notes to add here. For one, you’re equating Drupal with a secure framework. It’s not. Secondly, my point is not that you could create custom complex functionality cheaply, but that if a client can not afford the custom work then they shouldn’t have it. Using Drupal, WordPress, Joomla etc introduces too many attack vectors over a much larger surface area than a custom site. In my opinion, it should always be avoided except in cases where you can afford to have the code locked down and customized by a proper security company, as well as provide a monitored and secure hosting environment. This is why the White House and Sony can deploy these solutions. Uncle Joe’s Burger Joint…. not so much.

  • Cassandra Dawson

    Thanks for your post! I’m looking to hire a designer and this list makes a lot of sense. All too often SEO is an afterthought and stuff for local search, social media, conversions, usability, content and site structure is either forgotten or done incorrectly. I hope you rank well for this page as it helped me :)

  • http://www.cre8d-design.com/ Rachel Cunliffe

    Hi Marvin,

    Good article overall. I’m a New Zealander and 90% of our clients are from the US – I’ve spent a decent chunk of my life living in the US, Canada and the UK and believe that these experiences adds to my expertise. I value my reputation very highly and find that the long distance is not an issue with a US phone number, Skype, Google Hangouts, Basecamp and email as ways to keep in touch with my clients. The difference in timezone works to my advantage: I am working on your Sunday so am ahead for the week (and few clients spring last minute change requests late on their Friday while I’m having my weekend).

    Kind regards
    Rachel

    • http://seogroup.com/ SEO Group

      Thanks. I hope to visit New Zealand one day….just seems so far.

      • http://www.cre8d-design.com/ Rachel Cunliffe

        Thanks – it is worth the distance :)

  • Khaled Khan

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  • http://youronlinebutler.com Your Online Butler

    More than half of the websites we have built at http://youronlinebutler.com were under $1000, as we do most of our work for small local businesses.
    We have contacts with several freelance designers and developers from all over the world, and it cuts down prices for our final clients. That doesn’t mean their websites will look terrible, I just don’t think all clients need an expensive website to advertise their small businesses.
    We also have developed websites for a few $1000’s, but it’s not the kind of website everyone needs.
    As you say, you get what you pay for, we just give the option for our clients to choose owning a static $190 website that can be made within a couple of days. As a matter of fact, as far as I can recall we haven’t made a single website for that cheapest price, as every client has at least a single request that drives up the quote. But that’s another story…

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  • patty

    Great list. At least I’m doing most of them correctly.
    #3: Weekly or even daily check-in calls. Hmmm. I haven’t tried this one.
    At what point does it become “bugging” the client. My biggest issue is they don’t respond to requests for images, content revisions. Maybe weekly calls would help.
    #1: Low cost: another “what comes first, the horse or the cart”. Many of the sites I have done (and yes, the old ones were not great), fall in the $900-$1500 cost range. Small, local businesses, non-dynamic “brochure” sites. They have awesome navigation and all are built with organic SEO top on the list.

  • http://eileenlonergan.com Eileen Lonergan

    Marvin, this post is spot on and I love your humor. I have an exhaustive list of questions for a designer to ask a client http://goo.gl/is9Sfe, you are starting from amuch better place if you have a lot of details. I think your point of hearing from the designer on a regular basis is key. It is hard to maintain the same zeal for a project when a client stalls on getting you the info you need.

    Great post, thank you.

  • Cheryl

    Love it all! Except the “other countries” bit. That actually drives me bonkers.

    No, you should not hire a firm from India or the Philippines if you don’t have experience in managing these kinds of projects and those kinds of freelancers.

    That does not mean that designers from Canada, UK, Australia, etc are incompetent, difficult to deal with, or cheap.

    The USA isn’t the only English speaking developed nation in the world with freelancers and agencies.

  • http://rich-page.com/ Rich Page

    Great article Marvin! I’m glad you mention conversions too – its essential to have a good conversion and A/B testing strategy before you redesign your website. Otherwise you will often end up with a worse performing (even though better looking) website…

    Rich Page: Website Optimizer

    http://rich-page.com

  • Ed Leake

    “Creativity should not be the #1 goal for your website.”
    I’ve found most often than not, those clients on small budgets put ‘what it looks like’ way ahead of all the other good stuff such as UX, architecture and usability.
    Re-invent the wheel every time? Good luck with that!

    • Kim Kopec

      Just saw this graphic! :)

      • Ed Leake

        Thanks KIm – it appears I was right… makes a change! :D

    • http://www.irenenicholasdesign.com/ Irene Velveteen

      Can’t help but notice the patterns in behaviours related to “small-budget clients”.
      You need to be an amazing communicator to work well with that type of clientele.

      • Ed Leake

        Just a bit – it’s tantamount to sorcery!

  • Ammo Singh

    Is it really your designers job to do SEO? surely you should be employing a SEO person to do this. Same with CRO they are specialities the basics can be done by a designer but that’s going to give you basic search engine viability and conversions

    • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

      While every site needs a “real” SEO professional, the web designer MUST have an understanding about how SEO works.

      • http://eileenlonergan.com Eileen Lonergan

        I agree with you 100+ Pamela. Even better if your designer actually is a “real” seo pro.

  • Joe

    I agree with most of the article except for “The price is under $1,000 bucks”

    As a self taught web designer I do websites cheap for local businesses right now for one main reason.

    To get a portfolio going so I can charge more like you suggest later on.

    Also what I do is charge a smaller amount and then a yearly fee of set amount so I’m making money spread out not one lump sum.

    But I guess everyone has their own way.

    • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

      I think you’ll find that what’s more likely to happen is you are labeled as a “cheap” designer. When you offer up your services on the cheap to build a portfolio, it’s very risky, especially when your intent is to keep working with the same types of businesses. This is why so many designers or freelance sites continue to offer projects at these lower costs – they are unable to build an inflow of real paying clients. It also gives those businesses the ongoing impression that they should never pay “real” rates because someone will always give them to them cheaply.

    • Lyrix Pinchovski

      i Joe,

      I’m looking for a web designer maybe you can help me. Can you please call me to discuss further 323-383-9929 Lyrix

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  • http://www.cavemedia.com Luis Garcia

    The price a web designer charges is tied to his or her ability to sell. It takes experience to learn how to come across with confidence. A few days ago I spoke with a new prospect over the phone who told me at the end of our conversation that he knew within the first minute he was going to hire me because I knew the answer to his questions better than anyone else he had spoken to. He was so appreciative for helping him. He had not seen my portfolio yet nor had I given him a price! Now that I think about it, I should have charged more! LOL

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Hi Luis,

      You are 100% right. There is so much more to it than price, however, can you really expect to be successful for $1,000? The majority of the time, I think no. But occasionally you get a great deal.

  • Alexander Porter

    I unfortunately hired some jokers that wanted to charge me $3,000 for a site that looked like it was out of 2002. He tried telling me that WordPress was an inferior platform. They were uncommunicative, and wouldn’t listen to my suggestions. I got bamboozled by being shown his other sites (which it turns out he was a small part of building), and embarrassingly fronted half the cost to get the project. He sent me email stating the site was nearly finished, just as I was about to send him a mock up of a complete overhaul. I asked him to charge me for his time, and he said he doesn’t track his time, so I think I’m out $1500. On top of that, he’s changed the FTP password, and is unresponsive when I asked for it (three times now).

    Nightmare.

    • http://www.cre8d-design.com/ Rachel Cunliffe

      Ouch, that sounds like a frustrating experience – sorry to hear that!

      Paying an initial deposit of 50% isn’t unusual; I get all my clients to do this.

      What’s your contract/agreement with him regarding final payment and delivery of files/ownership/copyright? If you haven’t made the final payment (for valid reasons!), I wouldn’t expect he would allow you to take the files.

  • Robert Crave

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    Freelance Web Designing in Hyderabad

  • johngrivera

    I think it’s interesting. If you are a web and graphic designer like me who is fresh out of college with no portfolio to show than you will need a portfolio or else no one in the entire world will want to work with you. I know this because that person being rejected is me.

    Then people start asking for everything done for free since I have no portfolio. Do I look like an ATM Machine that dispenses free money? It’s called you’re not the only one with a roof to keep over your head and bills to pay. I have my own bills to take care of too. I give people my quote either you want it or you don’t but I can’t keep lowering the price just because you say so.

    I’m already way below the $1000 mark and people still think I should give up my services 100% free. Not going to happen. I understand that it is risky offering services for less money than they are worth but when you’re in a desperate situation like I am of course you will lower the price until you build up portfolio then go up from there. Sucks that the web and graphic design field can be hard to land clients.

    • Tom Hartill

      I think most webdesigners, myself included, go through an initial phase of working for free or next to nothing. You should do a couple of quick hobby projects to bolster your portfolio. Also, despite what this post says, friends and family may want websites which you can do for cheap to get your portfolio started.

      Once you become decent you can charge more. As you become good you will find more work than you can cope with and will be forced to charge even more.

      • johngrivera

        The problem with next to nothing is when I do it people expect that I’ll do it 100% for free and for the amount of work and things they are asking I don’t know if free is worth it. The guy I made a website for took me months of work some nights I had to stay up until 3 in the morning just to meet his deadlines and it was horrible. When the website was finally done he trashed the site and called it garbage. Months of work and I was doing it all for free and just like that my work dumped. Some people don’t appreciate what you do no matter how hard you work and that’s just it if you make them pay you for the work they take you more seriously since they are paying you especially the more you charge.

        • http://www.irenenicholasdesign.com/ Irene Velveteen

          Hi John, It’s a tough road but you will get through it. You are on the right track.
          As Tom mentioned, I highly recommend organising time for hobby projects. That is. Make a website for a fictional company.
          When starting out freelance, the hobby projects are the projects which sold me to more clients.
          It gives you the opportunity to really show off what you can do and what you’re passionate about!
          And that is what people are willing to pay us for.

    • Josh

      Just a suggestion if its a simple 3-5 page website and the customer will provide the copy pics etc do the site but ask for a fee every time they get a lead that is generated through the site or a commission. It’s worth a shot and you will now begin to have websites under your belt and in your portfolio.

    • http://ashleythedeveloper.co Ashley

      Perception has a lot to do with whether or not people will hire you. Way under $1000 for a full site screams “inexperienced newbie”. You should raise your prices at least to market rate (for now – market rate pricing is, in my opinion, a terrible way to try and make money in the freelancing world) and build an incredible website of your own to showcase. Perception is nearly everything – the image you project will dictate the type of work you get (or don’t get).

      • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

        Hi Ashley,

        It does scream newbie, unless the business owner is a newbie as well.

  • moein96

    Im a web designer and developer, I always work for myself and design own Website’s.
    thanks for sharing.
    کرکره برقی
    درب اتوماتیک

  • http://brandwebdirect.ca/ Jhon Mourish

    Amazing blog to read. The points which are included in this blog is very much informative. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    http://www.brandwebdirect.ca

  • Tom Hartill

    Your point about every website should be a CMS is not true. The question should always be asked in the initial meeting and a lot of the time the client can be sold the concept of a CMS. However many clients simply don’t need a CMS, don’t want the hasstle of maintaining a wordpress site and some, if left to it, would completely destroy their own site and SEO. Man i’ve even had some clients sticking the dreaded handshake stock photo in their wordpress pages and butchering h1 and meta titles. These clients need to be restricted from CMS for their own good!

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Good point.

    • http://creekmore.co/ Chelsea Creekmore

      Agreed.

  • parsa doorcom

    Hello , Great joobs dear , آچیلان در King regards

  • Marcus Dixon

    Nice blog. Keep sharing.

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      fo sho!

  • Craig

    First, great job creating sticky content. This is a couple of years old and still generating traffic!

    The article is great and I agree with every point you make – except one. I don’t agree that every site needs to be built on a CMS. With the oft-discovered vulnerabilities of WordPress – and the load time impact of dynamic pages – I caution clients to carefully consider whether they will REALLY make changes often enough to justify the drawbacks of a CMS.

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Thanks Craig.

    • The Unforseen

      Craig, I totally agree and great point… A CMS can also be burdensome for both the customer and designer especially if never agreed to use. This should be a direct question, right off the bat if the customer wants to deal with the costs and/or maintenance… I normally let them know/show right away about the possible vulnerabilities and for the most part, they opt out…

      Marvin, you do have some great points, too and I really love the fact that you focused in on how one can down scale on clientele while up scaling the pay increase.

      Many web designers are caught in this circle, especially being brand new “entrepreneurs” and/or as new developers and do not know how to close or “shrink” the the circle.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Lola

    I had to LOL at the handshake and girl-on-a-phone images. Almost all Indian website developers still include these images – I think it really says that cutting edge design only comes out of first-world countries: Europe in particular, and the US on occasion. Having said that, I have come across (and used) a couple of developers in India who definitely did NOT use those kind of lame, 3rd world website images, and the quality of the output was pretty good. So all up, I think those images are red-flags #1 and #2!

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      I liked that too,

  • moein96

    thanks for sharing your valuable information.this is very useful info for online learners
    خرید کریو
    خرید وی پی ان

  • http://gingalley.com GINGALLEY

    #21 – Use GoDaddy

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Perhaps.

  • clickconfig
  • http://orlandowebdevelopment.com dbcVisuals

    You’re right on mark, Marvin. I would love to see what a typical $50,000 non-ecommerce business CMS website design, though and what preparation and team hours goes into it.

    • Rabo Karabekian

      Pretty funny that these web pages have an almost invisible sliver of a low-contrast slider for scrolling.
      Far and away the biggest problems I see are tons of nonfunctional elements such as blank space or huge pictures, yet almost never is there an intuitive linking from one function or page to another. It is as if the developer simply decided that since he knows how to navigate to complete a series of functions, ten screw people who can’t decode his obscure process.
      As an example, my company uses SAP for employee time-keeping, yet has a separate web application for time off (duplicates SAP info), On any usual screen, the link for this is the size of a radio button with the half the screen a useless picture and most of the rest blank. The link takes you to the actual screen used, but they won’t let you navigate directly to that screen.
      Another example from my company, it is only through painful past learning that we can navigate to find our pay statements since you have to already know how to navigate through eight pages to get to it (including two pages to confirm your smart card even though you are logged into the company already), and then the final link title doesn’t intuitively have anything to do with “pay statement”.
      Finally, are we not all worn out with web pages we hope will let us do something only to find the pages are overwhelmed with animations. More and more if a web site is slow and messy due to too much automation, I simply leave it. AM I alone?
      Perhaps web designers should be required to have the use of their design be tested by non-technical people? Yes, I know it is human nature to focus what is important to ourselves, but do we really have to ignore what is important to others?

  • http://halcyonwebdesign.com.ph/ johnjoepeach

    In my humble opinion, not all designers from third world country offer third world service. Not all companies from the third world are cheap. In fact, they can compete well with countries from first world. You just have to be really scrutinizing in outsourcing for a web designer/developer. If they’re not cheap, then they must have promising work ethics and end products. You can look at our company and try our website design and development service.

  • Laurent Debacker

    what’s with the double number 17? you could have used a numbered list :p

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Haha never noticed that! Fixing it.

  • Engr Atif

    most points are true and valuable

  • http://www.esferasoft.com/ Esferasoft

    Maxim-am point are really true

  • Kathleen Povadora

    HAHAHA! This made my day! I’m doing web and graphics design for a year, I graduated 2014 and the reason why I became web designer because that’s the available position in the company that I applied for. For 3 months I was able to launch a wordpress website.

    Let’s see if im a terrible designer. HHAHAHA

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      I’m glad :)

  • Isles75

    #1 reason you can not retain your clients for more than a year: you read this article and agreed with it

  • http://creekmore.co/ Chelsea Creekmore

    I’ve yet to find a small to mid-size business client who loves using PM tools like Basecamp (let alone use them at all.) I’ve tried making it as easy as possible to use and understand but my clients always prefer platforms they are most comfortable with and use everyday (like email.) Google Docs and Dropbox are also preferred. I’d love if they’d get on board with PM tools but in listening to my client’s preferences they do not feel comfortable with it.

    • http://gentle.media/ Ralph Echter

      I hear you. Even the most simplest thing such as Trello is confusing to most of the small to mid-size business clients. With those clients I use a very simple way of communicating with them and that is through a Project Hub (https://24ways.org/2013/project-hubs/). You can link to Google Drive or OneDrive documents which they are comfortable with or to anything you host on your own web server like wireframe documents or design comps, so no more sending attachments back and forth over email

  • Ivan

    It’s interesting because you overlooked a big one – your web designer uses recycled templates. Why would you want to hire a one-trick pony, when you can get a SquareSpace site up and running for 20$/month that will look and feel exactly like said “designers” 30,000$ website?

    It sounds like this list is made by a mediocre designer (which, judging by your copied and pasted websites is exactly what you are) who is trying to justify exorbitant fees for shoddy work.

    Agreed that creativity shouldn’t be THE primary goal, but it should be A primary goal. Let me break it down for you – emotional investment is an historically accepted measure of conversion – higher emotional investment means higher conversion rates. If you are presenting stagnant, been-there-done-that designs and imagery to web site users, they aren’t going to be able to make that emotional connection to a website, which will in effect turn your website from a potential conversion vector into a targeted search landing page (Which means that you’re only going to convert individuals who are performing targeted searches for a specific product… you won’t get much impulsive conversion).

    You don’t have to be an artist, but you should be at least attempting to present a unique experience that is memorable and exciting.

    Oh and, you should update this list to include “Don’t publish content with click-bait titles” (like ’20 reasons why…’ or ‘7 things you wouldn’t believe!’) because the recent round Facebook, Google, and Bing ranking algorithms punish spammy content.

    And the reason I’m commenting on this is because these sorts of inane lists are detrimental to the high-end web development industry… they boil down to an authoritatively-worded opinion piece which provides no real, workable information and only serves to confuse people who are genuinely trying to educate themselves about how what web design actually means.

    I also hate designers who come up with 3 cookie cutter designs that they ripped from WordPress themes and try to market them as “ultra high end effective SEO enhancing lead generating piles of AWESOMENESS!!!!!!”… it really cheapens what the individuals who do excellent design for my clients do.

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Randy Ortan

    Choose Webflippy.com for your Small Business Web Design and Small Business Website needs. Our professionally designed website allow you to personalize your website and give it the look and feel that you want. Improve online presence with Online Marketing Services. Awesome and Responsive Websites Click here – http://www.webflippy.com/

  • SUDOisEvil

    How about, they try to design your app’s features after you give them the feature set.
    I’ll decide the features and workflow, you add pretty colours and fonts. I have not yet met a GD at any level who knew the first frigging thing about UX and feature design. Those are separate skills, but too many idiots confuse branding with features.

  • Budget Guitarist

    Wow. Just wow. GREAT article. Headset Hottie. I’m still laughing!

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      I am very glad you liked it!

  • Leo

    come on , this article is making me feel cheap , I designed this website below , and charged under $1,000 ? what do you guys think of the website ? I been working lately with small business owners

    http://www.HMunveiled.com

    any improvement ideas ?

    • Todd Danza

      Since you asked,

      My first observation is that It’s a bit generic, and a bit rough, but kudos for keeping it simple.

      You need to pay closer attention to spacing. I can’t get specific, since spacing is a huge topic and there are lots of ways to handle it. It’s not quite working in this site, though.

      Next, you should pay attention to the widths of paragraphs throughout the site. In most of them line lengths get awkwardly long when the page stretches and in some the columns get too narrow as the page width shrinks.

      Also, you should try some different fonts. In most places the plain helvetica looks like the type was just overlooked in the design.

      There should probably be a little padding between each of the awards in the awards section. They’re looking very cluttered.

      On the accolades in the page footer, it’s redundant to show the same icons you just showed in the awards section, so take out those two and leave in the “United With Love” and “Virginia Bride” icons. Also, you can fit these in two columns at the mobile device size, so do. There’s also a broken element in this section. I don’t know what it is, but is showing as a blue box with a question mark in Safari.

      In the bridal images on the home page, There’s a black line on either side of the section of four images below the first image, and when the page width is at desktop sizes there’s also a black line running beneath the last three images.

      At mobile size, the social media buttons at the top of the page turn black making them hard to see against the dark gray background.

      I don’t know if you designed the logo, so I won’t get into it. If you did, it’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it’s not working well, either. That’s all I’m going to say.

      There’s more, but I have somewhere to be right now, so I’ll leave it at that. Good luck.

      • Leo

        Well not bad then , talking about the horizontal awards, I know is one entire image , not several .

        Same as the duplicate 2016 awards on the bottom , is all at customer request , since this is what they want , I made it happen, it doesn’t matter if I like it or not.

        Same with the 4 pictures across showing the black spacing on sides , originally , theme width could only handle 3 images across , but they wanted 4 images across, I managed to adjust width layout . But contradictory to desktop view , those images across with the spacing looks even on mobile view, because appears as a column instead of a row.

        Functionally wise , website display the message efficiently.

        I will fix that broken safari link , that is a hidden Stat counter , that only see it on mobile view.

        But thanks for the constructive criticism , glad to see the website I designed for 1/3 of the price , work just as well :)

        As you know WordPress saves time and money to both , customer and webmaster , could you image doing all these html coding / javascript and php straight from notepad ? Is exactly what I was doing in 2002
        Thanks to wordpress / Joomla

        • Graham Barnes

          Hi Leo,
          My first thought was its good considering you said you did it for a fraction of the cost so naturally I did some digging, I found its a WIX website and your URL’s do not look over user friendly e.g: http://www.hmunveiled.com/#!hair-portfolio/b03vi.

          So are you saying you charged for a WIX website?

          • Leo

            Nope, not even close to my previous design, customers partnership ended, and actual business Owner opted to DIY website, 2 months ago, so I no longer host that in my server .

            But thanks for the input ! Will post here my latest website in a few days . Thanks

  • http://arpidesign.com/ Arpi Design

    Great article, 3 years old and still actual.
    Just finished a website https://lajewelrycreations.com and need some professional comment about the design. Let me know what you think.
    Thanks

  • Ramesh Nani

    Excellent article, Every point is True and real. More over $1,000 is more for a web site here at our place you will get 62 web sites in $1,000 ( a web site with $15).I am finding it hard to make my presence in web designing so wanted to concentrate on overseas market to find potential clients.
    We mostly start a Web site from scratch we spend lot of time and not even getting paid at times.
    clients usually ask me a question like why you are so expensive?
    I can get a site in $50 why you?

    Question from my side.
    How do we differentiate our selves?
    Do this web designing still have market?
    What about using themes for building website?

    working with crowd sourcing,
    Do you think is that good idea working on spec works all thought i am platinum designer in 99designs but not finding it interesting and most of my work goes use less.

    Please check out my website, works and let me know weather I am Terrible web designers or pro.
    http://www.pranetor.com

    The site is week with content part (looking for a Creative content writer) i want to make it more creative regarding design as well as content and out of confusion for target audience we missed lot of points to cover.

    I appreciate any suggestions for my website regarding UX ( Targeting high end clients who look for quality over quantity) I know it takes time mean while to survive i will go with low end clients too.

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      I love using themes as a starting point. There’s no reason to start from scratch :)
      https://moz.com/ugc/10-reasons-custom-web-design-is-dying

    • http://gentle.media/ Ralph Echter

      For starter, I was looking at a loader for 10 seconds, so there you lost already some potential clients (imagine how long this will take on a smartphone). Regarding the design/theme I see them on Themeforest all the time… slide-in content, running counters, etc., so no originality. And the content is not accessible when JS is failing to load or is disabled.

  • Pauline Etcuban

    Super awesome article! Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Please check our website http://www.convertbetter.com/ We Make Website ConvertBetter. I need some feedback about our website. Please let me know your thoughts! Thank you so much!

    5 stars for this blog!

  • Bella Loram

    Iv just paid £1200 for a WordPress web design which I had to design a provide the art for. It should have gone live in Nov 2015 and iv been paying hosting since Nov. It is still not live and I get no communication unless I ring in and 4 weeks after instructing them the work is still not done. I have requested a copy of my contract as iv lost mine whilst moving home. They refuse to give me one and now want to charge me £150 for fresh training on my site and to add psy pal as apprtly this was not agreed in the initial price. I am in total disparate as what to do as my polite but to the point emails are been ignored. Trading standards want the contract and can’t help without it and I can’t get the contract as I’m been ignored. HELP PLEASE

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Bella,

      Move on. You are losing more and more money chasing these guys. They are amateurs. Next time vet your team. Demand dates, milestones, and good communication. Tell them communication is your number #1 concern.

      Good luck.

      • Bella Loram

        Iv found a new host I’m just trying to get a refund on the hosting fees when my site is not even up. They are refusing to give me a copy of my contract. I’m thinking I will have to su.

        • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

          Walk away. Otherwise, you will lose more money and time. Working with an agency should not be this big of a headache my friend. Walk away. Consider yourself lucky to only lose $1,200.

          I may write an article soon, on how to vet a web design company or contractor. I will post it here if i do.

          • Mark Smith

            Dude, quit telling people to “walk away”! Seriously, if anyone listened to you, it must be because you’re guilty of ripping people off like these poor souls!

            If someone paid for a service they don’t get, then they have every right to get back their money!

            Sorry, but you’re a fecking idiot!!

  • vinodh

    very good blog post. image says it all. I am a java developer and has many self hosted wordpress dot org sites. thanks for contract templates.

  • Dewbert

    Good article except:

    1. SEO is an entirely different field than web design.

    2. A CMS just increases costs for the client. No need for it at all. We got along without them before. We don’t need them now.

  • Shekesa McLaurin

    But what happens if you simply don’t want to use a CMS? I prefer to use Visual Studio to integrate the database within the website. Does this make me a terrible developer? That’s the only part I don’t agree with. I also think that WIX, WordPress, etc. are the reason why it’s so hard for web developers out of college to actually get a chance. Everyone see’s that they can do it on WIX for 100 dollars so charging over $1000 seems crazy to some. I focus on startup companies and musicians.. Here’s my latest.. Tell me what you think http://www.mykebthelabel.com
    (I know the music starting automatically is annoying but I couldn’t talk my client out of it) Ugh..
    **Struggling to startup but I am determined to be great in 20 years like you**

  • Rob Arpanet

    I see lots of words and claims but little in the way of real world examples in this article. Ive been designing sites since 1997 and have gradually pared back the complexity of the intial package I offer business clients to a simple range of templated responsive sites, which are offered to clients who have never had a website (or have abandoned one years ago when faced with just the type of OTT web designer you claim to be). They start with a $1000 site which includes 5 years domain registration and 5 years basic hosting. The site is ready next day and is reviewed in 6 months to develop a fully fledged sites with custom features. Our model ensures that we dont overcomplicate the onboarding for businesses new to online marketing and also ensures we have a healthy baseline revenue stream from the instance we sign the client to our agency. Our review process is collaborative and is largely driven by clients being tasked with developing a wish list of features coupled with frequent updates on design and technology features that can drive business and non business client engagement and therby revenue. The way your business model operates is very old school cost plus and time intensive with long lead times to revenue. YOu should be taking a more lean or agile approach to design as we (and many other design agencies) are now taking. Cashflow is king!.

  • Mandy

    I’m having issues with a designer I hired to to create a new website for our non-profit association. We hired him in January 2016 and paid a deposit. By March we had no progress or communication from him.

    We contacted him because we were getting ready to have a meeting with our Board and wanted to show the progress so far. Within 2 days the site was designed to our specifications.

    After that he went into the programming phase. He explained it would take approximately one week to program and we would be able to load content prior to our next meeting, which is on Tuesday.

    We have not heard from him after phone calls, leaving voicemails, and emails. We have paid our second deposit for the programming phase.

    He has a good body of work, and many local companies and churches have used him to design their sites. I’m just wondering if we will ever see it to completion.

    We are actually under a time crunch because we have a major educational conference coming up for our members who have to register.

    Any advice on how to deal with this?

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Sorry, but cut your losses and walk away. Your designer, like many designers, is not a good business person. Your designer doesn’t understand how to control the project scope so he is hiding from you.

      I can refer you to my former agency, The Ocean Agency in Chicago. They work with small businesses all the time and know how to manage a project with project managers.

      Best of luck to you.

      • Mark Smith

        More spamming I see.

  • Va.Girl

    Wow! I really needed this article 9 months ago – paid a “shopify expert” $3000 and still no website – she’s missed most deadlines – very unorganized. Really bad judgement on my part. Lesson learned (the hard way).

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Sorry to hear that. But at least you learned the lesson.

    • Mark Smith

      Small claims court, get your money back.

  • Rachel

    Loved this article! Stumbled upon it googling “does a web designer have to know the budget”. We are working on getting quotes for a new web design. We have provided an RFP and are open to any questions. We are not wanting to reveal our budget as our thought is that we want a quote based on what we need and want done based on our RFP and additional questions they may ask.

    Does a designer really need to know the budget or can they just provide pricing based on our needs and wants?

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Budgeting a new website is like budgeting a new house. There are a million options and ideas. Because of that I always required a budget so I didn’t waste my time. You can build a website for 5k or 500k.

      Think about asking a contractor to quote building a new house. Should he/she spend hours on a 300k quote? What if the buyer gets frustrated because they actually wanted a 5 million dollar house?

      Honestly, I would give a budget, because there are so many options. Either way could work, but I’ve seen providing a budget work far more often than not providing one.

  • Laura

    Hello, My web designer is telling me that the CMS that he will provide our company cannot make “new pages” but evev if it could, those pages would be blank and I could design them by myself with basic CSS knowledge. He said ” you never asked for a CMS which can create new pages”. The website was made by a free-lancer at 6500 euros. Any chance he has a point?

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      The entire point of a CMS is so you can manage your own content w/o a developer, meaning create, edit and delete new content, pages, etc. In 2016, a CMS should create anew pages, YES.

      The only CMS he/she should be using for a $6,500 budget is WordPress, which i highly recommend and will do everything you need.

      If he/she is building a custom CMS be cautious, you may be stuck with that developer for life.

      • http://www.oxytechbd.com Rubel K. Mohajan

        “If he/she is building a custom CMS be cautious, you may be stuck with that developer for life.”

        So true

        • Mark Smith

          So not!

      • Mark Smith

        “The only CMS he/she should be using for a €6,500 budget is WordPress, which I highly recommend and will do everything you need.”

        Did you not bother to read other comments regarding WP? Or did you simply miss the memo that clearly stated WP is no longer the better option? (Personally, I don’t believe it ever was!)

        And for that kind of money and no doubt recurring payments, I’d want a designer who can code my site and have it make me a sandwich if I asked it to!

        Time for you to stop spamming your own services by trying to BS those of who actually know what we’re doing!

    • code47

      As long as he/she is using WordPress you will be able to create your own pages. But yes it will create an empty page with your theme applied to it and you need to add content by adding structure. Find out the name of the CMS being used and post it here…

  • http://www.mays-media.co.uk Mays-Media

    Amazing how your article is still quite accurate 3 years after writing, Kudos!
    The only issue I would have is with point #19 No CMS, of which you may well wish to revise given the past 3 years & history of WordPress.

    “I can’t think of any good reasons why your web developer wouldn’t build your website on a CMS (content management system).”

    How about:-
    The most prolific source of hacking attacks.

    “Not using a CMS is not going to save you money. In fact, it could be more expensive because a good CMS like WordPress is built on a framework that has prebuilt functionality saving you time and money.”

    How about:-
    A client accidentally alters a part of the system they shouldn’t have, how much time will that take to correct the problem?

    How about:-
    Constantly updating all the required plugins for each WordPress site to try to keep them slightly secure?

    How about:-
    A provider for one of the plugins drops out or fails to update causing incompatibility issues?

    Any of the aforementioned will cost you more in the long run #BeenThere

    • http://mysiteauditor.com/ Marvin Russell

      Great points. I have not used a CMS in the past for very simple sites, like my own site http://marvinrussell.com

  • Brendan

    i liked your article i am a client that hired an alleged website marketing firm to build a new site and was looking for a long term relationship and we are not happy, the problem is we are making payments to this company, the project was $6K, we owe about $1.5K and started the 1st week of October 2015.

    Even though they sent a sample form of the website within that 1st week, we discussed the client application from the beginning in detail which was our main concern, he said no problem, from our initial meeting we told them the whole point of our website was to navigate the clients into completing the application and we wanted an updated streamline app, then they stated issues with the internal application in January. They added plug in something or other no one discussed it with us copied the old form of the app we had since 2008 and now we receive 6 attachments duplicate applications and it is just a mess. its worse then the old application we had on our site from 8 years ago.

    The web design company went through incompetent employees and now almost 8 months later, we have a new arrogant web designer, i had questions on the site about corrections that still needed to be addressed, and still no response so i asked out of frustration last week, as they just sent us an email saying the site is live so i responded

    Where is my design team? Shouldn’t we be having a conversation about Social Media, SEO and how to start getting us organically ranked? what about administration for WP we were suppose to receive training on how to use the software, where is my team finalizing the site we just launched? Not sure what to do they seem like smoke and mirrors they just downsized their offices and no one returns our calls

    We are not responsible for the people they hire and we are always initiating contact as sometimes we have gone weeks without conversation. We own our own business and would never treat clients the way we have been treated, What is the normal time frame to build a website can we fire them even though we owe money? I don’t even like the design of the new website anymore its been so long any suggestions? My apologies this is so long

    • Graham Barnes

      Hi Brendan,
      I have seen so many design agencies do rubbish work, but
      regarding your question yes you can fire them and go somewhere else
      however they may ask for you to pay the amount outstanding with that
      said if they have delivered a product or whatever you agreed to be
      delivered at a certain time then you are in the right to go elsewhere, I
      am no lawyer so dont take that as legal advice.

      I create
      websites myself and have done so for around 15 years and have had to
      pick up design agencies mess for a while. Regarding your question how
      long does it take to build a site, it can take a while but depends on
      how big the site is, the functionality etc required, perhaps you can
      email me more info to gbarnes@bbdimension.co.uk so I can
      take a look at what they sent you out of curiosity of course.

      Usually someone would agree the design at your company like the marketing
      manager or the boss and once approved that would be developed. I hope that helps

    • Elizabeth Ely

      Try using periods in your communications.

    • http://www.oxytechbd.com Rubel K. Mohajan

      Hello Brendan,

      I feel sorry for your experience. I hope you have already found a solution for your problem. IMO its always important to sign necessary documents before and agree the SRF accordingly along with fixing up the deadline. Sometimes the requirement may changes but how it will be handled and how the delay would be handled should be discussed from the beginning accordingly. If you need any specific help you are free to email me anytime at rkmohajan@oxytechbd.com

      This article has a lot of good things which you can consider from next time. I wish you all the best your endeavor.

  • http://www.shedmarketing.co.uk/ Shed Marketing Ltd

    Very true and i found very informative post for me. When working with a web design and development company, we want to be sure that they will be accountable and easy to work with.

  • Stephen Dench

    A great list and good read, However I would also second the comment made by “Mays-Media” about #19 No CMS….

    A CMS is a solution to a specific problem… not the solution to every problem…

    it should be

    #19 every site designed uses a CMS
    If your designer says that all the sites he creates uses fantastic (specific CMS) or all the of the sites in their portfolio use (specific CMS); run for the hills… Reason see #9

    The market is satiated by so called developers/designer who have zero design skills (everything is a template), zero basic web skills (HTML/CSS) and zero programming knowledge (JS/PHP)…. in fact you can pretty much guarentee that they will fail most or all of these 20 points…

    There are also many back-end developers that are highly skilled in PHP (or more specifically WordPress’s messed up way of using it)… they can spit out WordPress sites like no-bodies business, and even create custom plugins for you, but 99% of the time, designer’s they are not…

    Don’t get me wrong, there are many great times and places for a CMS… but it is not needed for every project and as ‘Mays-Media’ commented, it comes with many problems of it’s own…

  • Twilight

    Thanks for sharing… I’m definitely planning to build a web design empire so I’ll have to check the others out.

  • Joy Parkes

    You’re not a web designer? maybe let a “Web Site Builder” help you out.
    https://www.webdesign.org/you-re-not-a-web-designer-let-a-web-site-builder-help-you-out.22585.html#ixzz4C6Ir6ZO2

  • Elizabeth Ely

    So how do I fire my designer? Without losing the work we have so far?

    • lualps

      If you worked with a contract, this should be explicitly written on it. However, as you’re asking, the most likely is that you didn’t sign a contract in the first place, in which case, the best scenario is that you both agree on what percentage of the project is already done and you pay only that percentage of the total price and get the rights to use what is done.

      A good approach could be to pay only for the design and then hand it to a professional programmer, though if you’re looking forward to fire your designer, perhaps it isn’t only because of poor service, but also because of poor design skills.

      Whichever the case, always bear in mind that it’s better to loose a little (with your current designer) and them invest on a pro that guarantees you a good ROI, than to loose the entire price and be left with a website that doesn’t produce any results.

      Hope you find this helpful :)

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  • dcoopmedia

    Might I add #21 to the list? If your Web designer’s contract is under a page or non-existent and doesn’t answer questions about copyright, liabilities, deliverables, and termination then you’ve found yourself a terrible Web designer.

  • Hillary

    #18 might be a bit unreasonable. Everyone wants to be on the first page of Google for the most BS reasons/keywords, and a web designer is not responsible for your placement, nor is an SEO specialist.

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  • ki1ted yaksm3n

    I don’t necessarily agree with #19 especially for use with simple sites, but then again, I personally have a deep hatred for wordpress

    • SB

      Thank you!

    • Mark Smith

      Likewise. WordPress blows.

  • buddman

    Another big issue is when they ask you to pick out websites that you like and than they copy them without approval or discussion. I got ripped off with a terrible plagiarized website. I asked for refund and they said according to there contract, if you cancel you still owe for the hourly rate of time spent on the site. They said i went over the hours spent. 4 page magenta site no finished took over 68 hours… This is a larger web design company in the silicon valley area of California. Not sure what to do at this point.

    • MarieClark

      Were you able to get a refund or find another remedy? I am going through something similar and not sure what I can do. Website now live but not finished, some links not working, looks bad and now web designer not responding.

  • http://cybernext.io/ Jason S

    Nice post Marvin.

    You covered different aspects. I can conclude that.. you get what you paid. Higher rates obviously gives you quality works. But it is still important to check various things before hiring a website design company like their portfolio, reviews etc

  • Mark Smith

    I disagree with #19, WordPress is fickle and I’ve given up trying to keep all the websites I run with it, up to date, working correctly and from not crashing! Going back to HTML, php and CSS coding, although laborious at times, is so less frustrating! WordPress just ain’t what it used to be and too many “designers” fail to understand it or it’s plugins, anymore! Like everything else, the market flooded and now we’re sinking in a sea of shitty designs!