Oh that horrible feeling! The feeling that you made a big mistake and it’s going to cost you a lot of money. I get it. I’ve heard this story many many times in the past from clients who have escaped a potentially budget-bruising relationship with a web designer/developer.
I read an article in 2019 that said the top three least trusted industries in North America were #1 Mechanic, #2 Lawyer and #3 Website Developer. I was a little shocked by #3 but at the same time found myself nodding my head because I get it. It’s not because our industry is filled with charlatans, but that we are in a very technical industry that can be confusing and frustrating to non-technical people. Just as with mechanics and lawyers, the modern web development industry is really, really complex, at least from a non-web developers perspective and this breeds suspicion as well as a playing field for utility-grade designer/developers, also known as BAD designer/developers.
I thought I would share some key points, from my perspective, as to some tell-tale signs you may have hired a bad web developer/web designer.
1. The quote is really cheap or really expensive
Average isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it relates to quotes. Doing your due diligence and getting at the very least three different quotes, should see you ending up with three numbers all around the same price. If one stands out as being very cheap (or expensive), odds are they (A) don’t have experience (or a hell of a lot!) (B) aren’t very good at their job (or are amazing at their job) (C) will get you on board at a low price and then nickel and dime you up to a higher price by leveraging technical terms and siting lots of OOS (Out-of-scope items). Now price isn’t always an indicator of a bad developer or business owner, but it should start to get your spider senses tingling.
The caveat with this point is, you need to compare apples to apples. How do you do that? Through research! Spend a little time on the web designer/developers website and actually read their text content and look at their work samples, AND look at their website on your phone. It shouldn’t take very long to determine who are the players and who is the real deal.
2. They don’t ask the important questions
Again, not necessarily a factor pointing to someone trying to rip you off, but if they don’t ask about your goals, who you feel your target market is, discuss/mention SEO and a bunch of other important questions… it could point to someone with limited experience which increases the potential that this “web designer/developer” may not have the chops they suggest they have. A good web designer/developer needs and more importantly, wants to know more about your business.
3. Impossible promises
If your website developer is promising you wild engagement and conversion rates, accelerated search engine results or even worse, making the guarantee of page one on Google (sometimes not even knowing what keyword(s) you want to target) it is highly likely they either don’t know what they are talking about or they are trying to manipulate you. Let me add to that, by definition, a Web Designer/Developer is someone who develops websites, they are not an SEO specialist or a content writing specialist or a social media marketing specialist. These are all different disciplines that overlap here and there.
Achieving all the things I mentioned above takes time and time equals money. You simply won’t get those promised “wild” results unless (A) you do the work yourself and are very patient and do lots and lots of research and testing or (B) you hire a specialist which will be very expensive. In general, SEO, engagement, audience growth, conversions etc… takes time, skill and experience. Any promises of significant results in under six months is probably BS.
Here's a true story from many years ago.
I once had a rough-around-the-edges fellow walk through the Citrus Store front door. He placed his well worn briefcase on the counter and said he was an “SEO specialist” and he could get me on page one on Google for $100… quickly!
He then asked if he could use my computer to show me some of the results he has achieved for other businesses, to which I eagerly said yes and stepped back from my fancy iMac. He typed in the specific business name he had supposedly “SEO’d”, into the Google search bar. Well, when you search for a very specific business name you are almost guaranteed a page 1 search result. But no one searches like that because they don't know you exist, so they search for keywords related to your business. Duh.
I laughed him out of my office.
4. Their own website leaves a lot to be desired
I mentioned this above. Go to their website. Click around a little. Look at their work. Check it out on your phone! If they talk a good talk but don’t seem to walk a good walk, chances are they’re going to try every trick in the book to get you as a client and get those invoices flowing. Beware.
5. Dazzling you with “tech-speak”
It’s easy to try and “wow” someone with all sorts of techno-babble if that someone isn’t technical! Dropping lots of technical speak on the client and/or not being able to explain clearly what it all means may be an indicator of inexperience and/or trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Don’t dismiss someone because they use technical terms but by the same token, don’t just follow them blindly into the abyss. Research!
6. Gut feeling
There’s always something to be said about going with a gut feeling. As humans, we are well trained to sniff out a bullshitter. Don’t discount your inner bullshit-sniffer.
There are many fantastic designers and developers out there who are more than willing to help you get your business where you need it to go, but there are also many wanna-be designers and/or developers who would like nothing more than to snatch you up as a client and take your money for very little in return. As the old sayings go... you get what you pay for and caveat emptor.
Would you like my help starting your business or taking your current business to the next level? Email me directly, text me at 905.442.3323 or call me at the same number. It's always free to chat!
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