I hate to see people pay good money for a website only to end up with something they can’t use. But unfortunately, I’ve seen this more than a few times.

Most recently, I had someone call me about his 1-year old website. It didn’t seem to be bringing him any new business.

We talked about pushing traffic to a site via social media, urls in marketing material, on business cards….the usual stuff. I told him I’d evaluate his website and let him know what I thought.

Initially, the site looked alright. Lots of white space. No can-you-make-this-any-harder-to-read reverse type. Looked fairly user friendly. True, I didn’t see any copy talking about their niche or how they helped clients, but that’s a matter of copy rewriting and positioning. Otherwise, I didn’t see anything glaringly horrid.

Then I went through the site. Slowly. Very slowly. Not cause I wanted to but because the pages loaded so slowly I had no choice. It was painful. If I were a visitor to this site rather than evaluating it, I would’ve been long gone. Video links that went nowhere. Contact emails that came back as “undeliverable”. Copy heavy pages without reasonable breaks or subheads to let you quickly scan copy. No clear positioning that told you how this firm could help solve your problems. A blog with posts that were either press releases or articles gleaned from other resources. No original viewpoints or commentaries or anything you couldn’t get somewhere else. A downloadable pdf that didn’t download. And to top it off, the website wasn’t designed to be responsive. So viewing it on a mobile device was a nightmare.

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Now it was easy to see why this website wasn’t converting any business.

Rather than a customized website that was specifically designed and built to convert business, this business owner had purchased a site that was really a template. The contact page had a form with boxes that weren’t at all relevant to his business. Some of the photos made you wonder what the firm did. The overall impression was one of a website that had been thrown together without much thought as to how it should work. Or what kind of user experience a visitor would have.

If you’re going to shell out a substantial sum of money for a custom website, that should be what you get.

So before you hire a firm to develop your website, make sure you do the due diligence you’d do (do…do…do…do!) for any other significant financial commitment. Read testimonials from previous clients. Review sample work to see what types of sites the company has designed for other clients. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.

I once had a client who came to me with a new website that had no copy. True! They had paid for….and gotten….a beautifully-designed website with almost no copy — certainly no positioning statement or anything that set them apart from the competition. They had a shopping cart with no copy and no instructions on how to purchase items, and no idea how to maintain or update the site themselves (no, it wasn’t WordPress). I felt so bad for them. They had paid a lot of money and gotten an unusable (but beautiful) website. They came to me for social media help but I couldn’t do anything with that until I wrote them some web copy. At that point, they had run out of money and abandoned the business. It was very sad.

This is probably the perfect place to throw out a pitch for my new web design and development company. I recently partnered with two of my favorite colleagues to launch What A Great Website. Check us out if you’re thinking about doing a new website. We make sure that all of the issues I’ve brought up in this post do NOT happen to you!

  1. Good points. Another issue about hiring someone to development website is web security, especially for shopping cart. You don’t know whether your website has security bleach or backlinks. Therefore, hire a honest web developer if you can not do it yourself.

  2. Great comment, Jason! Security is hugely important….not just for shopping carts but for intake forms that visitors complete to submit information (thinking grants or mortgage applications). As for hiring an honest developer, I want to think that any vendor I hire is honest. It’s smart to do due diligence whenever you’re hiring someone. Asking friends and colleagues for references is also good.

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