A family friend came to me the other day. He works with a well-known local company who’d been in business for more than 75 years, a venerable and respected brand. He’d heard that I worked in web design and knew that his site needed help. They’d had it redesigned about a year ago by an Indianapolis web design firm, for prices that are in line with what we charge here at Roundpeg.
When I looked at it, I was at a loss for words. It was horrifying. Hideous, designed in shoddy HTML, not search engine optimized in any way and the “About Us” page still promises information is still “Coming Soon!” I had nothing to do with the creation of this site, and I still felt awful that they’d been so taken advantage of.
What can you do to avoid ending up like my friend?
- Ask Around: If you live in a small town or even a small city like Indianapolis, reputation travels at the speed of light. If the company isn’t totally on the up-and-up, someone will know. Ask your business contacts, their LinkedIn connections or even ask for references. If they balk at providing them, be very afraid.
- Check the Portfolio: It’s important to check out the company’s past work and make sure it’s in line with what you want for your site. Also, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about when the site was built and what exactly they contributed–did they write the copy, or did the client provide it? Did an outside company provide SEO services? Understand the exact role the company played in the site’s design and production.
- Understand the Contract: Who owns the intellectual property of the site–you or them? Can you or another company update the site, or does the company insist on doing updates in-house? Who’s responsible for renewing hosting? If there’s something you don’t see or don’t understand in the contract, ask!
- Trust Your Gut: Ultimately, your gut is one of the most powerful tools you have. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are that it’s not. If you aren’t sure you can trust the company, there are plenty of others who are worthy of your time, your money and your trust. Don’t waste your time with one who’s not.