1. Will your site hold up under the stress of a large inflow of clients?
You found an inexpensive web designer and finally launched your new site. You then send out a big marketing campaign to drive customers to it, only to find that as soon as lots of people visit, the site goes down. You call your designer in a panic and he says “It seems fine on my end” or “it must be the hosting company”. And so begins the all-too-common finger pointing nightmare, and you are left with nothing but a semi-working website and lost opportunities. Make sure your designer guarantees their work.
2. Do the people building your site speak English fluently?
Many designers hire “off-shore” coders in an attempt to keep costs down. Quite often they are Indian or Chinese. However, coders who do not speak English fluently will be working in a language they are not familiar with. Since website code is written in English, the number of problems (from parts of the site not working properly to serious security issues) is staggering. What do you think your level of certainty would be if you tried to build something and the instructions were all in a language foreign to you? Insist on a Web Designer who uses fluent English-speaking coders, and preferably USA talent.
3. Does the designer require the entire job amount up front?
You make the deal, write the check and a couple weeks later the response from the designer slows down and then dries up altogether. Most reputable firms only require a percentage of the job up front as a “deposit”, with the balance to be paid in an agreed-upon schedule (for instance, 25% at a ¾ point and the remaining 25% upon completion of the project). If you are asked for the entire job amount to be paid before they do any work, beware.
4. Does the company have actual clients they can connect you with as referrals?
You see glowing reviews of the company’s work on their website, but they are hesitant to give you any of them to talk to. Why? Any site can list “Testimonials” on their site, which may or may not be actual client testimonials. If they have a Yelp listing, check that (many don’t). Insist on speaking to previous clients that can give you an honest assessment of the company’s work.
5. Is the deal too good to be true?
Yes, you should definitely have a general idea of what people pay for websites. And you should also try to get a good price for the work you need. But you see an ad for a “Custom Website” for $399. You buy it and launch your site but the contact form doesn’t work, so they charge you to fix it. Then you need to change some information and they charge you to fix it. An image doesn’t show up, they charge you to fix it, etc., etc. There are few other industries where “you get what you pay for” so aptly applies. Reputable companies can’t even tell you exactly how much a site will cost to build until they discover from you exactly what you need. There will be base amounts for different types of sites gathered from experience, but like a custom home builder knows, your needs are specific to you and a good designer will know how to properly price your site so it doesn’t become a money pit for you. Beware of hidden charges and “intro” deals.