timeforcake: Whoa Whoa Whoa Web Companies – The Charlatans, the Shame and What You Can Do
special to the daily
What do these three things have in common:
1. 11-year-olds who took a website elective class in middle school
2. Grandmas who read a book on website building
3. Computer technicians who have followed a few step-by-step build-your-own-site tutorials online
Answer: They all have their own websites, are promoting themselves as professional web designers, and will be doing their best to persuade you that they should be the ones building your company website. Don’t roll your eyes – and for heaven’s sake, don’t think that of course you would be able to easily tell the difference between a web professional and someone just posing as one. I argue that differentiating between the two groups isn’t so simple. Let’s take a look at a few examples to see what I mean, shall we?
Case Study #1: My partner and I are achingly aware of two Colorado web companies selling themselves as Search Engine Optimization and Marketing experts. Problem is, neither one of the companies shows up in the search engine themselves. Ouch. We also happen to know that one of the companies has in fact, never once worked on a search engine marketing project before. Ever. Yet they have a very professional, well-designed site that clearly states – right on the homepage – “Specializing in Search Engine Optimization.” Based on the professional design of the site, one could easily assume that this company is trustworthy and professional; from there it would be easy to take the next step and hire them for a search engine optimization project. It would likely be a very bad move.
Case Study #2: We recently had a potential client ask us why our web design work was more expensive than Competitor Y’s. We asked the potential client to tell us how they felt about the fact the design for Competitor Y’s very own website was, in fact, purchased from a completely different web design company. Yes, you read that correctly. Competitor Y didn’t design their own website. The potential client realized that a company not using what it was selling might have a very good reason for selling its products for cheap.
Case Study #3: Imagine my horror upon finding a New York web design agency’s website in which the entire About, Process, and FAQ pages had been copied and pasted – word-for-word – directly from my company’s website. Now imagine potential customers arriving at their website, reading that text and thinking “Wow, these guys seem great! I think they’ll be a good match for our needs.” Unfortunately, these potential customers would be looking to hire plagiarizers unable to craft content for their very own website. The kicker? Their homepage touted that they were an “honest, ethical company you could trust.” Awesome.
It would make things so much less stressful if the process of choosing a web design/development company was as simple as comparing apples to apples. Unfortunately, it’s more akin to comparing apples to vanilla mint cookies dipped in fudge. Or something close to that. You need to be able to prevent yourself from teaming up with a company that talks the talk … but actually walks a little bit funny.
So let’s think about this. You wouldn’t hire a personal trainer who weighed 450 pounds and ate two boxes of cream puffs during your first consultation, would you? So then why in the world would you work with a web design company that didn’t create the design for its own site? Or hire a gal promoting her search engine expertise . . . yet can’t seem to rank in the search engines herself?
Please don’t get me wrong. I really do believe that many of these web companies truly feel they are experts and can do everything they purport. What you need to remember, though – unfortunate and labor-intensive as it may sound – is that it really is up to you to determine if these companies can do all they say they can and whether or not they’ll be a good match for your specific needs.
In the end, all you need to remember is this: Do your due diligence and engage in a bit of research before you hire any web company. They all say they can do a myriad of amazing things. Don’t take their word for it, though; power up your good friend Google and find out if they really can.
eRin pheiL is the primary creative force behind timeforcake (www.timeforcake.com), a web design and development studio in Frisco. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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