Here are top 10 common mistakes I’ve come across that people make when looking for a web designer.
1. Cheap Web Design
There are many cheap web design options online, especially on popular online auction sites and classified ads sites but cheapest doesn’t always mean the best. The following sayings come to mind “you get what you pay for” and “if it sounds too good of a deal, then it’s likely to not be a great deal at all”.
Many of these cheap web design offers tend to use the same template, basic design, out of date coding and in almost all cases I’ve come across they will leave you in the lurch once they’ve got your money. So things like updating your content or even getting a new website made under the existing domain name becomes impossible as they don’t always pass on necessary usernames and passwords, in some cases the domain is registered to the web designer rather than the owner of the website.
2. Expensive Web Design
On the other end of the scale we have large agencies offering websites for £20,000+. Yes they will have someone there for your every need, but they will also charge for every second of their time. By all means agencies are fine for large organisations running multiple and complex websites that require instantaneous updates, but for most businesses out there you can make do with smaller web design companies or even a freelance web designer.
Large agencies usually employ a large sales team to sell websites using complicated sounding jargon and making you believe that you won’t be able to have a website without their company holding your hand through it. The reality is most of the stuff is pretty straightforward when explained in simple terms and I believe most businesses need a web designer more because it’s easier to have someone do that side of things as it’s enough work just running a business.
3. Getting someone you know to do it
This is a very common option I hear clients going for, either a friend or a friend of a friend, or a student built their website and now they can’t find the person to update the site.
I have to be fair on this one, without building websites for friends and family while I was a student I wouldn’t be making a living now from building websites.
So here’s my tip, by all means save money and get a website built by a friend, family or student but be very specific on your needs, question them on what they know, show them examples of what kind of functions you want so to be clear they can achieve this and most importantly make sure you get them to give you any usernames and passwords for domain and hosting. Also I should add, if they’re offering a site for free; be kind and offer them some money for their work, it always helps motivate them to work harder and complete your work. Often new starters offer free or charge less, only to realise the workload is much more than expected, this could make them give up.
4. Designers expertise
Another mistake many people make when looking for a web designer is not questioning the web designer about their expertise. A good web designer should be able to explain everything to you without using too much tech jargon. They should be able to show you a current portfolio of work that you can use to decide if their design style is what’s right for your website. Also note that websites are not just built by a web designers, they may need a copywriters for unique content, developers for unique functions and an online marketing specialist for search engine optimisation and social media. So always ask if these options are available.
This one is a bit vague, but let me try and explain.
You as a business owner or organisation leader know your business or organisation better than anyone. So when it comes to most aspects of the content on you website, you will have to tell your web designer what you want.
A web designer should have a fair idea of what is good for your website to help your business or organisation through the usability and access of your website.
Unfortunately in the past I’ve come across clients with wild requests on sites, that I’ve not been able to convince them out of and as predicted its not worked out.
So by expectations what I’m trying to say is, be willing to listen to your web designer’s opinions even if it takes away from some of your expectations. In some cases certain expectations can be very time consuming or extremely costly and won’t really benefit. It’s good to share ideas, bounce off each other.
Discussing your website before will help you get a perfect website once launched.
Time to time I come across clients that want a website built without even meeting up or having any sort of meeting. My opinion is, a website is a very big part of your business, before you begin a business you have meetings and do business plans, so it should be the same for your website. It’s always good to have face to face meetings with your web designer or at least a detailed phone conversation to go through and explain your expectations and talk about your business or organisation.
One more expectation point I’d like to make before we move on; once a website is built I never like to say it’s finished. This is because a website evolves, so when looking to have a website built always remember it will need to be updated and changed with the times. So the mentality should be that your website is never finished, rather look at it as completing stages.
6. No CMS (Content Management System)
You may have heard of the term CMS when it comes to having a website built. Don’t let it confuse or worry you if you aren’t as tech savvy.
The best way I can explain this point is, cheaper basic websites and older website were built with basic HTML and CSS coding. These types of websites will almost always require the web designer to make updates to your website; be it a simple change of content or design change. This in the long run can be frustrating for both website owner and designer.
Modern up to date web designers will offer websites with a CMS, which allows the owners of the websites to login to and make simple changes. The only time you’d have to call your web designer is if you wanted to make major design changes. This is a more cost effective and time efficient way to own a website.
7. Upkeep and maintenance
Do not under estimate the time and effort it takes to maintain a website, especially with the increasing popularity of social media. Before you have your website built, always explore the cost of having a regular updates made, or even arrange a monthly maintenance plan with your web designer.
As I’ve already mentioned, make sure you have a website with CMS available. This will save you time and money on making small content changes to your website, so if you ever needed to make a big design update to your website, hopefully you will have saved money to have the update done to the highest quality.
8. Unrealistic time scales
If you get a web designer offering you to build a website in a day or less than 4 days, then most likely it’s not going to happen. Unfortunately some web designers will quote ridiculously small time scales to lure you in. Once they’ve registered your domain and you’ve paid them a deposit they will start wasting your time.
Its wise to always go for a web designer or company that is recommended by someone who’s already received a good service.
Realistically no web designer can tell you exactly how many days or weeks it will take to build a specific website, as all websites have different elements depending on the type of business. At best a web designer should be able to give you a rough time scale but these can change due to certain factors.
In majority business website cases I have found that business owners tend to be the busiest people due to the daily running of their business and often don’t give feedback or content in time to complete a website within a certain timescale, this is especially apparent when building a website for a new business starter. But these kind of issues are usually quiet amicable between designers and business owners.
9. Not understanding the long term investment
Going back a little bit to the point I made earlier about a website never being finished. Anyone looking to have a website built will have to accept the fact that it’s a long-term investment just as most other aspects of a business.
Just as you would change aspects of your shop, or products your website will always have to be updated and kept up to date to reflect the changes on your business.
So, if your business plan has a website on it (which all business plans should have now a days) then remember to factor in the cost of the initial website build and the cost of keeping it fresh and up to date in the years to come.
10. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
I’m glad to say more and more of my clients are now starting to understand the concept of SEO.
To have a website online is not enough without actually having any visitors to your website.
It is wise to make sure your web designer either offers the service or recommends someone and builds a website that is ready to be further optimised so that it will found on the major search engines.
After all the time, money and effort put into getting your business online its almost pointless having no one visit the site, its like printing a leaflet and then putting it away in your cupboard.
I hope I’ve covered as much as I can think of right now when it comes to common mistakes made by people when deciding on who to get to design their website. Please leave your comments below.