Knowing how to choose a web designer that is going to create your shop window to the world is no mean feat.  Rush into it with a cheap deal and you could end up with a very expensive mistake.  But on the flip side, don’t be fooled by web designers who charge extortionate rates but don’t live up to their claims.

One thing that upsets us more than anything is when we get contacted by businesses to update their site, and during our time with them, find out that they have spent an absolute fortune on a substandard website.

There are so many ‘web designers’ out there that are prepared to rip off the unsuspecting and it is absolutely disgraceful.

We have had first-hand dealings with businesses that have experienced a site built with broken links, non-functioning online forms, incorrect emails, payment gateways set up incorrectly.  And the list goes on.

Another incident we have come across more times than we care to mention is where the website developer has created a site and listed it under their name.  The client then has no way of claiming this site back for themselves without undue time and stress.

Knowing how to choose a web designer

Avoid cheap offers from friends and family

One client had a friends son offer to do the website for a small charge as he was just setting up.  He charged £300 for the most awful site we have ever seen and we advised the client to take it down immediately.  When we called him to get it sorted he wanted more payment, even though it was painfully obvious he had no idea what he was doing and was trying to learn as he went along

Always make sure you own the domain name

All too often we come across a site where the designer offered to obtain the domain name and look after hosting in addition to building the site.  One particular site was shockingly poor but when the business owner tried to take the site to another designer, it was found the original designer had registered the site in their own name and would not release it unless thousands of pounds exchanged hands.

Agree on time-scales in writing

One of our clients paid over £18,000 for an all-singing, all-dancing site that 18 months down the line was only half-finished and not fit for purpose.  Only after contacting the MD of the company and threatening to publicly name and shame did the site get sorted and in my humble opinion, was still not worth even half the amount that had been charged.

Use someone who understands your business

Another client used a website designer who refused to listen to what the client wanted and came up with something that did not fit the company brand or image whatsoever.  The client paid £3,500 for something that has now been ditched as it needs to be completely redone.

Beware of hidden charges

A client who had a site built for a relatively small sum of £500 but now finds they cannot make any changes themselves and the designer charges for absolutely every little amendment (even £40 +vat for adding a new user which would have taken them seconds to do)

These are just a few examples of small businesses being taken advantage of.  So if you are getting your website created by someone external to your company, ensure you have a signed agreement in advance of what they will do, for how much, by when and how much they/you have after the work has been completed.


How to choose a web designer checklist

Checklist for how to choose a web designer

Always check:

  1. Ensure your business owns the domain name, not the designer.
  2. What are the charges for amendments or updates once the site has been finalised
  3. How easy will it be for you to go in and make amendments/additions to the site and will they provide any training on this
  4. Ask and check out references from other site owners they have worked with
  5. Are they including SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) within the design or will this need to be done separately
  6. Who is supplying the content?  Do they have the copywriting skills to create compelling copywriting for the site or will you have to supply this
  7. Who will be doing the work?  Get a named individual who will be responsible for creating your site.  Will they be doing it themselves or outsourcing?
  8. Are they up to speed with industry standards and legislation?  There are online laws regarding websites they should be aware of.
  9. Will you own any work created or will there be an ongoing licencing fee
  10. Will they be creating a site that can be adapted as your business grows
  11. What is the anticipated finish date?  Agree on a definitive deadline with financial penalties if these are not achieved.
  12. Ensure the site will be responsive – it will adapt to whatever mobile device it is being viewed on
  13. What are they going to charge?  Is the price charged hourly (run a mile) or project-based
  14. Ensure your content is protected and will not be passed on to a third party or used by the designer for their own personal use.

Never part with your money until you know what you are getting, by when and what happens after your web designer has finished.

And of course, there are some excellent web designers out there who do an excellent job and it is such a shame the less than efficient ones let down the side.

Just be careful.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions galore before letting anyone take over a very important aspect of your business for you.

Written by: Angie Taffs | Director | Seahorse Creative Ltd
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