Cheating may be a little dramatic, but its true that not all web design companies are created equal. There are plenty of lies told by seductive salesmen to sweet naive companies to get them... into bed, so to speak. Here are the top 5 lies I hear most often from other companies, or second hand through clients who've been burnt. No particular order. (Note: I've cranked up the sleazy tone on these a bit, to make you laugh, especially the ladies, but the core concepts are very serious.) Watch for the absolutes, both cheating men and webmasters like to use them!
Tell-Tale Lies to Listen for
- "This design is individual just for you." Is it really? Get samples of previous work from a designer. Does everything look the same? Same format all the time? Be careful, a design isn't individual just because you can customize your logo and drop in your own text.
- "The most important thing is design." Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge believer that design makes or breaks a site. However, don't let someone convince you that a great design outweighs sound coding. The two elements should always work together.
- "Everyone charges a monthly fee for upkeep." Errrrnt! Wrong. Simple websites rarely require upkeep. If you don't have any interactive features you probably only will need to update keywords, not edit your whole site. If a monthly fee accompanies a proposal, make sure you find out exactly what it covers. (The other explanation for monthly fees is "hosting". More on this here.)
- "SEO costs extra. Its never part of the coding process." I'm not referring to extra money for keyword research or link building or even content creation, just SEO within your code. If you build a site from scratch, a lot of your keywords and meta data will be included in that process. Let's be blunt, anyone who creates a website then says "Oh, and its extra to optimize that code I just did" is cheating you.
- "Your website or social media or email or whatever is the only marketing your company needs." This might be the biggest lie in advertising across the board. Every "specialist" is going to tell you their form of marketing is the best. Look, its just not. Your website might reach one target audience but may you also need newspaper ads to reach the others. Marketing should be a cohesive effort, and rarely does putting all your efforts in one medium result in success. If someone whispers this to you over candlelight dinner or even coffee, run away.
When you work with a web design company, listen for those absolutes, be on guard for lies. And if you ever hear: "Don't worry baby, I'll take care of everything." Drop 'em. Any company that doesn't at least offer to educate you, is taking advantage of you somewhere. I haven't plenty of clients who don't want the "details" but I still let them know why we do certain things and offer to explain everything. Ask questions. Do a little research. You are a strong, independent company in your own right; don't let a webmaster cheat on you!
Have you ever been lied to by a web design company? How did it make you feel? What did you do?
Secondary Note: I'd like to ask you your opinion about something that has been bugging me, in addition to the question above. Having been in the online marketing industry for a while now, I see these lies from companies all the time. However, sometimes I think companies just starting out don't know any better. They think they have to charge random fees to be competitive, or they don't completely understand organic SEO. My question is: What do I do? Do I say something to these baby companies, struggling to make things work or ignore them? And if I should say something.... what do I say? I really appreciate your thoughts and advice.