Avoid Website Developer Scams
It pains me to have to write an article like this wishing for better from humanity however over the years and endless emails and phone calls discussing this exact topic I’ve decided to write about it in the hopes I can save one or two people from becoming a victim of such trickery. As the article is titled, this topic is on how you can best avoid becoming a victim to website designers who employ con tactics, scams or just plain poor work habits that can result in your hard-earned money going to waste.
Before deciding on someone you need to be aware that in this day and age of internet everything, having a quality website design is as important as your physical business location is if you plan to content with competitors in your local area or from across the web. Establishing your business online in such a hugely competitive market requires time and effort. If you don’t plan to put in the time, rest assured other will and will reap the rewards of their hard work or monetary expenses.
With all the above being said, its safe to say you should take your time when deciding on a website developer. Make sure both you and they are able to communicate well, inspect their past work by asking for a portfolio, check their online reviews and look over the quality of their own website and content. Be prepared to ask questions and a lot of them often.
Although we have many clients who work with us and never once pick up the phone to call, you can learn more about someone’s work ethics and personality by giving them a call. Don’t be afraid. This is your business, your money and your future. Not knowing much about website design is not a crutch or something to be embarrassed by so when calling, ASK! Everything and anything that it takes to really understand the company, project or steps required.
As with many, once we make that first contact it’s not uncommon for us to forget to ask a question or two, so it helps to have a list of questions in front of you and a way to write down each developer answers. Your goals are to understand what needs to be accomplished in order to accomplish a successful project as well as determining if that developer will be the right match for you.
Aside from questions, questions, questions other things you should keep in mind while researching for the right developer are listed below.
Now the first tricky area to figuring out if your working with a dishonest web developer is in price. Although one would figure the cheapest must certainly be the most honest, this sadly is not the case. Visual appeal, coding quality and overall flow of your future website are all important factors to keep in mind when choosing a website designer. Should the coding be riddled with bloat or the site has poor visual or utility flow, this will result in lower conversions from website visitor to converted client or customer. This can also mean a huge difference on how well search engines rate your overall website and thus how strongly you perform listing wise when people search for your products or services.
A visually stunning website takes time for developers to come up with. Like an artist who paints or a musician writing songs, often things are changed, rearranged, changed back and changed again until a geometric harmony of colors, page content, menus and all else ties in together.
The same holds true when working with the raw HTML code that makes up the website. Ensuring proper heading tags, ALT data and website structure are all in order adds additional time to your project however if skipped, your website has little chance of ranking well with our friends the search engine.
I by no means imply that the highest bid should be taken any more than your lowest bid should be taken however all factors we will discuss should be considered at which point you will be better equipped to make an appropriate decision based on all evidence at hand.
The next area that is worthy of paying attention to is how fast your potential web developer responds to emails prior to your project. This can be a sign of how well he or she will respond to requests as your project progresses. Don’t be afraid to call and email potential developers several times and even several times a day with questions. See how often your calls are answered right away or in the least, returned within an hour or two.
If you don’t get replies to your emails and calls for a day or two this can be a warning sign that this individual is a part-time developer and can lead to problems meeting your project completion time. If they are only part-time this also means that they most likely lack the skills necessary to establish a successful web development business or may only be starting out in the business. This also can lead to potential problems with proper coding or well-designed site pages.
Plan to call and email each developer you’re interested in a few times over a few days to establish a pattern of their response times.
An area worth watching out for is how your developer wants payments handled for your project. Developers asking for payment in full prior to starting your project are not necessarily a scam by any means however this removes some security from you incase things don’t work out the way they had promised. The less you pay upfront, the less risk you carry while seeing if what they promised comes to reality.
A reputable developer is more than fine accepting credit card transactions and other forms of digital payment such as PayPal. Both payment solutions offer you added protection should the developer not follow through with the agreed upon terms. If they are requesting strictly cash or check payments, you have little recourse in the event they end up being a rip-off.
Sub Domain Hosting
Another area of risk is choosing to use your web developers offer of hosting your website under their hosting plan. By doing so generally means your website files and domain name will be under their control as its tied to their account. Although this may save you slightly in monthly hosting fees we recommend you use your own hosting account by a third party to ensure the control of your website project stays in your hands and not someone else’s. Many developers, us included do offer primary hosting plans however these are almost always reseller accounts via 3rd parties that can be completely setup with your credentials rather then ours. This type of hosting is perfectly safe as you will hold all the identity information needed to reset passwords, upgrade or down grade the account and renew. Avoid sub-hosting accounts as these will be tied to the primary host.
Bait and Switch Pricing
Generally speaking, you should have little trouble getting a flat rate quote for your project. This may require some time as the developer pours over all information you give them however before committing to someone for your project, you should be able to have a bottom line quote that should be stuck to unless some unforeseen circumstances arise that were not already agreed on prior to project start such as adding additional pages, new features or something else fairly extravagant.
If during your project you are suddenly required to pay more money beyond what was already agreed upon don’t be afraid to ask them why and expect detailed answers. A good developer will never drop a mystery bill on you. Rather if something you are asking for will require a good deal of time outside the original scope of your project, they will let you know this upfront at the time of this new request as well as provide you with flat price for the additional work. We take it one step further and often offer (no additional fee) alternatives that can achieve this new request.
95% of our projects are accomplished on budget meaning no additional fees. This is because websites designed from one individual to the next really don’t fluctuate much in terms of time. If suddenly your being asked for more money and have no clue why, ask.
Rework time is another area to keep in mind when seeking out a website developer. Its not uncommon to have troubles visually figuring out where you want your websites text to be placed or to want to add additional text or images to pages even after your developer has already completed the page. This is called rework. For the most part and within reason, a web developer will allow this free of additional charges however each company has their own rules in this area. When searching for a developer be sure to ask them on their policy for rework of completed pages.
Be leery of complex, hard to understand contracts that seem to offer endless loopholes. Read and understand what the developer is asking you to sign. If areas of it seem a bit shady or in some way has you carrying legal responsibilities, this may be a warning sign and best to avoid signing.
Utilize everything above and your intuition when finding the right match for your project. Most importantly, take your time, ask questions and follow-up with each prospected developer until you narrow it down to the one you feel will be the best match for your project. Keep in mind we live in a dishonest time filled with desperate people so continuously keep guard.
I hope this article brings a little insight to you in your search and best of luck with your new website! Hope to see you on first page in no time!