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How to Not Get Screwed by Your Web Designer

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If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone tell me a horror story about working with a web designer, I’d be a very wealthy woman. It pains me to say, I work in an industry that has been inundated with fakes and frauds. It is your responsibility to protect yourself and your business website against these types of web designers. Let’s talk about how to not get screwed by your web designer.

How to Not Get Screwed by Your Web Designer

Do Your Research

First, it is extremely important that you conduct research. Don’t just go with the first person you see in a Google search. Research companies in and outside your area. Read reviews and recommendations. If the company doesn’t have any recommendations on their website, steer clear. This is a tell-tale sign of poor quality. Any designer who does great work, receives great feedback and they will put that feedback on their website for everyone to read.

You can also check to see if the company has a rating on TrustPilot.com. This is a great platform for real ratings from paying clients. There are other websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau where you can check reviews and ratings.

After checking reviews and ratings, check out their portfolio. Every reputable web design firm will have a portfolio filled with their past work. Pay close attention to the details. What do you like about their past designs? What don’t you like? You’ll need to note these things for your interview with them. You’ll want to bring up the things you like and don’t like, to give the designer a better understanding of what you want.

A designer’s portfolio will showcase their skill level as well as their style. You can expect your website to have the same style and flair as the ones in the portfolio. Focus on the commonalities in the design, this will give you a sneak peek into what your website could potentially look like.

Conduct an Interview

After you’ve done your research and you have a list of web designers that caught your interest, it’s time to interview them. Yes! You must interview them, just like they were applying for a job with your company. Remember, we’re learning how not to get screwed by your web designer; it’s important that you ask specific and strategic questions of these companies.

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. How many websites have you designed?
  3. What is your process?
  4. Do you offer any guarantees?
  5. Do I own my domain, website, images, and other content?
  6. How much oversight will I have during the project?
  7. What happens if I don’t like the design?
  8. Do you charge any fees not included in the design?
  9. What does a package include?
  10. How often will you be in contact with me?
Request References

Now, you’re almost finished with the interview. Yes, almost! You still have one very important question to ask. “May I have some references I can contact to get a better feel for your work style?”. This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask. A reputable firm will have references at the ready for you to contact. Now, to be fair, if you’re dealing with a new company they may not have many or any references, and this is ok, but ask anyway.

Once they’ve given you one or two references, it is your responsibility to follow up with these references. You can follow up via email or phone call. I know what you’re thinking…but J. Marie, what do I ask the references. Well…

  1. What did you like most about the process?
  2. What did you dislike about the process?
  3. Did the project end the way you expected?
  4. Would you use this company again?
  5. Have you recommended this company to any of your friends or acquaintances?
Request a Proposal

Ok, so you’ve done your research, interviewed several companies, contacted references and you’re ready to see how much each company will charge you for this project of yours. This is the part you’ve probably been waiting for. Let me set a quick warning here for you. You may want to select the cheapest company, but this would be a bad idea. You want the best company for your project, not the cheapest. Remember, you get what you pay for; and we’re learning here how not to get screwed by your web designer. So, let’s look at what you can expect to be in the proposal.

The proposal is their promise to you. It’s a document that outlines everything the company will do for you during the project. Everything should be included in this proposal, including pricing, project details, timeline, expectations, due dates, project objectives, and a bit about why you should select them as your service provider. There may be other sections in the proposal but these are the standard sections.

Read through the proposal carefully. While a proposal is not a contract, it is the document that will be used to create the contract, so you want to ensure you’re very clear with everything you’ll be getting. If there is anything in the proposal you don’t understand, ASK. Never feel bad about asking questions. This is how you get clarification and avoid confusion and misunderstandings.

Read Your Contract

This is the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful project. Read your contract in full. Hopefully, it doesn’t have too much legalize in it, but try very hard to read through every section. The contract explains everything the company promises to do for you. It will lay out what you will own and what you won’t own. This is very important. You want to make sure you own everything going into your website (images, content, etc.). If you’re purchasing hosting services from this company, be sure the details of that agreement are in the contract as well (or at least in a separate agreement and everything should be spelled out in detail).

Again, if you have any questions, never, ever, ever hesitate to ask the company. They should never scuff at answering your questions. If you get a feeling like you are annoying them or they don’t want to answer your questions or they give you the run around, take this as a warning. Run from any company that is not easy to work with. Use your instincts. If it seems too good to be true or doesn’t feel right, its probably not the right fit.

Stay In Contact

The normal cadence for contact on web design projects is weekly. Your company should be contacting you weekly to give you updates on your project and their progress. However, if you have questions during the week, always know you can contact them at any time for any reason. They should be accommodating to your needs. Anytime a company isn’t accommodating, should be a red flag.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen … how to not get screwed by your web designer. If you’re in search of a great web designer and want to ensure you won’t get screwed, then take a look at my services. I’ve been in the business of web design for almost 15 years and I have the experience necessary to build a successful web presence for your company. Let’s chat!

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