House of A Thousand Website Design Corpses
A Tale of Website Design Nightmares as Told to Us By Our Clients
It’s fall and Halloween is over, but it’s always a good time for a scary story. What can we say? We dig horror films.
And speaking of horrors, we have compiled a short list of horrifying practices many website design companies engage in that often scar business owners for life. If you have been in business for any period of time, chances are you have already experienced one or all of these. But here they are none-the-less.
#1: The Curse Of The Frankensites
- You’ve gotten yourself engaged in a conversation with a new company about updating your existing website, adding some pages, and improving the SEO ranking. They ask you to get them access to the back of your existing site, which you provide, and then you get “the call.” The call goes something like this: “Who did thaaaaat to your website? Nobody here can even understand what your last company did. Nobody does thaaaaaat any more. We are sorry, but we are going to have to start over. This last experiment you let someone perform is a disaster, so we are going to have to start over and build you a brand new website. And here is what that is going to cost”
Basically they are telling you that you let someone build you a Frankenstein website, that they can’t update, or that is no longer the industry standard, and there is no way they can work within what they built for you, so they have to build you another site. The problem is, what is going to keep the NEW company from building you some newer Frankensite that the next company is going to want to rebuild for you?
Simple Fix: Get a WordPress Site, and make sure you DEMAND that you OWN the site when it is done, and have ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ACCESS to it once it is built. In this day and age I would also insist that they make use of the Elementor Plugin so you (or anyone else) can edit you site, and be able to work on it for you later in case you decided you want to change website design companies.
We NEVER design websites for our clients they can’t update, or don’t own, or can’t take to someone else to work on. But this is common in our industry. They shackle you to them with contracts, sneaky code embedded in your site, ownership of the creative, and many other shady practices that won’t let you escape their nightmare web design dungeon. If you are considering a new website build, insist on these things, and get clear about them up front. And if the company says they won’t work with you, so what. There are SO MANY web design companies out there. You don’t have to put up with that from anyone. Nobody is “that good” that you should be shackled to them. Break the chains!
#2: The Case of The Disappearing Man
This one happens a lot more than you think. In fact, it is happening more, not less. You pay some company to build a new website for you, and they get going right away. They show you some comps, you decide on a “look” you like, and you get a couple of progress reports. But then, the time it takes your freelancer to respond to your inquiries increases. Then they barely respond at all when you e-mail them. Eventually, they stop responding at all, and disappear.
Why does this happen? Most recently, we have seen bunch of these and it is because someone tried to save some money, and either tried to get their kid to do the site, or some friend on Facebook said they would do it for free. And they start out working on it, and then disappear – forever. One of my friends did this recently trying to save about $500 over having us do it. He is still waiting to hear back from “his guy.” It’s been three months and he still has no website.
I have also seen this happen because the builder was making use of a third party developer overseas in the Philippines, or India, or Bangladesh. At first, their new inexpensive overseas person charges out the gate with gusto and enthusiasm. But pretty soon they slow down on returning emails and then just disappear. This has happened to several people we know. In some cases, they were lucky, and they were using a third party platform, that got their money back. In other cases, they weren’t so lucky and their client’s money was GONE, and they couldn’t get it back, and they couldn’t finish the site themselves, so they just stopped answering the clients e-mail requests. No website, no money, and because they were using someone overseas….no legal recourse.
Fix: Ask your website design company if everyone they are using is in the United States? Ask them who is handling the build, and where they are. Ask how long they have been working with the builder. If they are working with a third party builder who is overseas, use an escrow company to hold the money for the website until the work is done. There are lots of companies who do this for a small fee. You simply lay out the terms and conditions for what is considered “work complete” and when it is, the money is released, but if the work is not completed, you get your money back. Or just find someone else. It’s o.k. to insist upon knowing who is working on your website. Or, you can risk being the subject of another Case of The Disappearing Man.
#3: Night Of The Walking Dead
You needed a new website, and you had a niece or nephew who just graduated with a new degree in website design. Or maybe it was the child of an acquaintance. They live in their parents basement (under ground), and only come out after sunset. You talk to them by phone, and they listen to you tell them about your business, and then you wait. And you wait. And you wait. And having heard nothing, you send them an e-mail politely requesting an “update” on their progress, and emphasize the importance of the project.
You don’t get a response addressing your concerns at all. That night (around midnight), you get a new e-mail from them that says “new website for review” in the subject line. You open it, and click a link, and there is a single website page mockup, that looks terrible. You know they hadn’t done ANY work on your site and have just thrown this up there to appease you. You are nervous. What do you say? You already paid them. You know that if you send back too many corrections, it might be another month before you hear from them. You actually wanted this website done before an upcoming event. What do you do now?
You send them back an e-mail that basically says “this is a good start” and that you would like to see some changes here and there. Then you don’t hear anything else for three weeks. You are frustrated. You send them a curt e-mail asking to see their progress since the last e-mail.
Again they don’t respond. That night, from the depths of their basement coffin, they crank out five website pages that look exactly like the single page they showed you before. By this point you are frustrated an angry. You wonder whether you should call their parents or just curse them out. You see them hiding in their underground lair, a barely walking zombie, and curse they day you decided to let a kid take on a real life business project. You wonder if it is your fault. Maybe you weren’t “clear” enough on the front end? Maybe you are not being realistic. Not knowing what to do, you do nothing, and don’t bother responding.
At this point, most people make one of two decisions – go live with the crappy new website and just learn to live with it (this is what most start-up’s will do), or just write it off as a loss, and keep the website you’ve got (this is what most established businesses do), and you curse the you listened to that stupid marketing person on LinkedIn telling you that you needed to update your website.
Easy Fix: Never entrust a project that is going to drive your business forward, to people who know NOTHING about business, or have never been in business themselves. If you wouldn’t hire someone to fulfill a critical role WITHIN your company, then don’t hire them to perform critical tasks outside of your company. After all, you are depending on their own self-leadership at that point to complete your project. If you wouldn’t want them on your team, don’t hire them to do work FOR your team.
Everyone on our team has been in business for themselves, and understands business. We were entrepreneurs before Stay Wild Digital Marketing, and held many key roles in other people’s businesses and organizations before we launched this venture together. Why is this important? Because we have been where you are, and we know exactly how it feels to engage in a huge marketing project, hopeful it is going to drive your business forward, only to be let down by it, and the people who made tons of promises and then failed to deliver on them. We are SERIOUS about our craft. We are SERIOUS about succeeding on your behalf. You are serious about your business, hire serious people to do work on your behalf.
#4: The Brothers Grimm
You spent HOW MUCH for that website? In the “new version” of The Brothers Grimm story:
One brother is sent out with all the money a family has left to get medicine. One the way, a shyster sells him magic healing beans, which he happily runs home with. You can imagine how that went when he arrived at home with a handful of beans, rather than medicine.
We have literally seen business owners pay six figures for a website that probably took less than forty hours to build, and contained no special code, no complicated web development. Nothing truly special in any way. The only thing special about it was that whomever sold the website to them, was truly incredible at convincing the owner that they were going to get something special, and that people “get what they pay for” – which is a fancy way of convincing people that spending more money must automatically mean more value…even if that value is invisible…and even if it can’t be tracked back to actual return on investment.
You might be asking yourself “what would” justify such a price? Well, to be fair, if a website needs a ton of high level development work done for some reason, a website could easily cost $700,000 and quite possibly run into the tens of millions. If you wanted a website to do auto-ordering, and track inventory and order more inventory in real time, without a human doing anything at all, well, that is where you get into the big money for websites.
What else might justify such a price? Well, maybe the best website builder in the world, who could claim such a title definitively could charge that much just because they were the best, and were highly sought after for some reason (we don’t know of any such person).
Fix: Ask your website design company to explain the precise work that is going to go into building out your website. See if you can get an idea for what kind of time they are talking about. How much work are they going to ACTUALLY do. Is their process special? Has it been proven effective? Is it labor intensive? Is it going to increase your sales? In what way PRECISELY is their work going to be special enough to command a premium price? Is their special coding involved? Is there a member area on your site? Do they have to do SEO on ten thousand individual products? How many web pages do they have to write content for and design? How much research are they going to do?
The bottom line is, don’t overpay for shiny things that are in no way special. If someone says they are special, insist they prove it or at least attempt to explain it to you. Don’t be like the little boy in The Brothers Grimm….who went out in search of a functional website that would drive sales, and instead, blew your entire budget on “magic beans.”
We are going to conclude this segment, as these stories represent the worst (and most common) horror stories in our House of A Thousand Website Design Corpses fable.
This last tidbit is your reward for reading the whole article. We believe hard work pays. And we wanted to reward you for your effort.
We will be back to update these stories periodically. One, so you have new carnage to swim around in and learn from. And second (and far more important) because it is an SEO Best Practice to go back periodically and UPDATE each and every one of your past blog posts, add new links, add new stories, and test each of your old external site links to make sure they still work. Google rewards fresh content…what most people don’t know is that a “re-fresh” is also considered FRESH content. Refresh your blog posts, and make sure you don’t have dead links. Google penalizes content with dead links in it.
Stay Wild Digital Marketing Offers Website Design in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has clients across the United States and in Canada. We offer Web Design in Salt Lake City, as well as SEO, Google Ads Management, Email Marketing, and Content Development.
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