Is Your Website Company Working FOR You or AGAINST You?

Image Is Your Website Company Working FOR You or AGAINST You?
By Vanessa Salvia, 11/8/2011

HEROWeb has been in the website business since 1996. Over those decades we have heard numerous stories from our clients about how they got started in their fields. Many of our clients are first-time business owners and hence first-time website owners. But many of our clients have also come to us after having experience with other website companies that just did not meet their needs.

Unfortunately many of these stories are heartbreaking . . . we have heard from sincere, experienced business owners who have spent thousands of dollars on websites that don’t function, don’t look like they are supposed to, or that are quickly outgrown. Worst still are the website development and hosting companies that just don’t do the work they are supposed to, while still collecting hefty fees. This puts small business owners at a disadvantage, obviously, and also gives good website companies a bad name.

It’s totally understandable that after being taken advantage of by one or two, or even more, website companies, that a small business owner would be reluctant to reach out to yet another provider. However, I’m here to tell you that there are some things that you can definitely be on the look out for when it comes to dealing with web developers, and some awareness will prevent you from wasting one day or one dollar more than you should on ineffective companies.

It’s a “Real Bargain”
Sometimes the old adage “you get what you pay for” really is true. There are many reasons why a site that seems like such a bargain you just can’t say no is really going to turn into a nightmare. For one, the site may be so basic that in order for it to meet your needs, you will have to pay for every single little bit of customization. That alone can drive up the cost of a “bargain” website into astronomical proportions.

Some designers are cheap because they are inexperienced. They should be able to show you a portfolio of past work and be willing to put you in touch with past clients.

Cheap designers may not know how to build a functional website using code that meets web design standards. Sloppy website coding can lead to hassles later on because your pages may load slowly or not at all, and you may have to hire a more experienced designer later on to fix their mistakes.

Cheap designers may not be in business for long. Even if they finish your design, what happens if they go out of business, leaving you with no support? You will have to start over, costing you not only money but time.

They Are Outrageously Expensive
The flip side of “you get what you pay for” is that sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between paying for quality and being taken advantage of. If you’re thousands of dollars into the project and you still don’t have what you are looking for, back away and look at other alternatives. There’s a strong chance that you just aren’t going to get the website you are expecting from this company.

Someone we heard from recently had built a site with another company. After being in business for more than a year they were still constantly having issues with their site. The final straw for them was when they asked their development company to create a buying club, similar to a wine-buying club, for their product, which was flavored cooking oils and vinegars. The company copied the code, design, and layout from a wine buying club—and neglected to change the name of the club from the winery to the client’s name. For days, this client had the name of another business on their buying club’s website! And this was after having paid thousands of dollars to fix other issues over the months that their site had been created.

That should not happen. Don’t feel bad about questioning this behavior, because that should not be the experience of a website owner getting quality service.

They Are Unresponsive

Whether they are difficult to communicate with because they say or write things you don’t understand, do not return your calls promptly, that is a situation that is not going to work over the long term. If they make you feel foolish about your lack of technical know-how, you are not going to be comfortable asking them for help that you may legitimately need.

One of the most frustrating issues clients have had with other website providers is that they have to wait a long time for changes or updates to their site. It is understandable that there is some lag time between asking for work to be done and finalizing it, but there should be a regular stream of communication about it.

Your Site Is Registered in the Developer’s Own Name

An unethical web developer may take a client’s money to purchase a domain, but actually register it in their own name. This means that the developer is actually the owner of the site, not the business owner. So if the business owner wants to switch developers or hosting companies, they can’t. This means that the developer can control the domain, even selling it to a different party if they want to. Fighting something like this can be devastatingly costly.

Your Site Is Incompatible With Different Browsers
If your site looks OK in Internet Explorer but doesn’t work in Safari, for instance. There are problems.

Check Out Reviews of the Company

The site owner that was mentioned earlier, with the buying club copied from the wine club, told us the company that he had initially hired. It was a name that I had not heard before, so I went online to check it out. The reviews were mostly bad. Many people said that the shopping cart provided by this company was VERY basic, so if the person needed no customization at all, the cart would work fine. But naturally, the businesses all needed quite a bit of customization in order to make it work for them. So, they ended up getting poor service, spending a lot of money, and having a bad experience. Would reading the reviews of this company have helped? Maybe. At least the person would have gone into it expecting some issues, and maybe had their eyes opened a bit sooner.

You are hiring a web development company for a very important job. Think of it as akin to a babysitter for your children. You wouldn’t leave your kids with just anyone, so don’t trust your website, the backbone of your business, to just anyone. Research them and make sure they are a company that is going to work FOR you, not AGAINST you.

In conclusion, getting started with a custom, easy-to-use website should not be difficult! So if it is, just take a step back and see if you are really getting the service you are paying for.

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