As websites become more available to business owners, every web design agency finds themselves asking a difficult question: How to cover the bills when the cost of an average website has dropped?
With the rise of building and hosting companies like Wix and Squarespace, complete novices to web design can now build and manage their own sites, making many companies who do that for a living seemingly obsolete. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous agencies have decided to be less than honest with their clients for extra cash. This harms the industry and can frustrate, and possibly ruin, a small business.
In the same way that a bad auto mechanic can take advantage of customers with no knowledge of automobiles, some web design agencies treat their clients poorly. Here are some things you may hear from an agency ripping you off.
“Monthly maintenance fees will run you over $1,000.”
The myth that your site needs monthly maintenance by your agency is pervasive even today. While enormous websites like Amazon, Facebook, and Google have dedicated developers and teams of software engineers working full-time to keep their sites active, the majority of business owners can perform their own WordPress updates and check the site status every day without much knowledge. Even if they would like the agency to handle it for them, it certainly shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars at the very most.
“You need HTTPS? We have to build a new site.”
It’s important to keep your site current with standard internet practices and requirements. As the world shifts to the more secure HTTPS protocol, every site should update accordingly. While it may offer a good opportunity for a new website, you should never feel like you need a new site in order to support HTTPS. Even if your website is 15 years old and still looks like an old MySpace page, it can almost certainly support the new security requirements with minimal structural changes. Don’t let anyone pressure you into building a new website.
“Mobile-optimized is extra.”
Beginning early in 2018, Google began ranking websites on their mobile optimization quality, meaning how your site works on an iPhone or an Android tablet. Your agency should know this, but they, and you, must also know that no new website should be built without mobile optimization in mind. If a company wants to charge you an additional fee to make your site look good on a phone screen, it’s time for an agency upgrade.
“It’s taking longer than we expected, but our hourly rate stays the same.”
Never-ending contracts might be acceptable for the federal government, but not for you. Your web design agency should quote you what they expect the project to cost, with a limited flexible range of overage– no more than 3-5 hours. Don’t hire someone who can’t guarantee an end date to the project or their billable hours.
“If you switch agencies/platforms, the site won’t work anymore.”
This is almost never true, and only in very rare, specialized circumstances. For the most part, sites are built with a PHP front-end and a database for the content structure. These sites can be easily migrated to any standard basic provider in a few hours at most. For standard WordPress sites, the migration can take minutes. When you hear these words, you know that someone isn’t telling the whole truth.
“It’s normal for the site to go down periodically.”
This is another common excuse for poor hosting setups and lazy developers. While not always a problem with the design agency, very often the agency also acts as the site host. Blaming GoDaddy, the DNS service, server availability, or other third-party is not an acceptable response to failed service. If your website is not accessible for longer than 30 minutes without a sensible explanation, it’s time to switch hosts.
What you should be hearing
Listen for these phrases from your web design agency; they will tell you all you need to know about their business integrity and how they treat their customers.
“No additional hourly work without signed approval.” This means you won’t be paying for surprise billable hours when you least expect it.
“We train you on proper site use and maintenance.” Your website shouldn’t withhold any secrets from you. We should be upfront about how your site works, even if you don’t have the time to learn it all.
“Here are your options.” There are always options, and you should know about them before making your decision. A good web design agency will ask if you have any opinions first.
“Tell us how we can do better.” Feedback is what we need to do better. If we don’t ask for feedback, we can’t improve our services and continue to meet your needs.
If you are looking for a web design agency, get in touch with CHIMENTO. We’ve been doing this for a long time, we’re upfront and honest, and we’re here to help.