How to avoid being ripped off by the web building process

Whether you’re hiring a web designer or building a site yourself, Omer Shai, VP Marketing at Wix.com shares his tips on not getting swindled

One of the first major undertakings for a new business is to build a website, an online ‘shop window’ to let the world know that the company exists. Often, setting up a website can be an unexpectedly costly and daunting venture.

Whether you choose to hire a web designer or take on the challenge yourself and go DIY, don’t leave your business acumen at the door.

Hiring a web designer

Using a professional is a wise choice, but don’t be blinded by the creative genius of the web designer.  So often I hear of young businesses asking a designer to “build us a website” without anything like a clear creative brief, meaning that not only do they give away creative control, but usually much of their precious budget too.

Here are my tips for retaining complete ownership of the project so that you end up with a beautiful website with the minimal of hassle.

1)     Think carefully about the process before you begin

Define your design requirements and communicate your expectations. Understand exactly what the designer needs from you in order to create what you want. Then write it down in a brief. Consider things like whether you need an ecommerce offering and what proportion of sales you expect to generate through the website. Think more from a business perspective not a design perspective. Let the web designer think about how the design will best serve your business goals.

2)     Ask the Right Questions

Review the designer’s work. Compare their portfolio to your requirements – how successful have their business sites been for example? Ask the designer to explain the conversion components and other key elements. How did these components increase the bottom line sales in their previous projects?

3)     Carefully review the proposal and be clear on revisions

Make sure to go through the proposal or contract with a fine-toothed comb so that you understand all the points! From prototype to production, have the designer include all aspects, and ask them to break down their methodology so you can understand it.

Who supplies content like photography and what’s the turn-around time on deliverables? A crucial area that is often overlooked is how many revisions are offered, and what’s included with a revision. This is often where the process becomes costly. To play it safe, ask the designer to include hours above and beyond what they estimate the design will take.

 Do It Yourself

 Another option is to take the process on yourself, which isn’t as daunting a prospect as you might imagine. In a world where bank loans or seed funding are difficult to come by, small businesses should look at ways to get online for virtually nothing. 

1)     Discover the freemium model of web design

The ‘freemium’ model of website creation is a perfect solution, allowing you to create and host a website free of charge, with access to additional premium services for a small cost.

There are several ‘freemium’ website building platforms out there, of which, Wix is one. With hundreds of customisable template designs, whether you’re a store owner, consultant, artist or photographer, Wix allows you to simply drag and drop to create your own website, and publish it instantly. The DIY website is totally free to build and publish, with the option of connecting it to your own domain, removing company branding, adding eCommerce capabilities and more, at a small cost.

2)     Research the platform before you pay out

When choosing your website publishing platform, be sure to check what the free option includes and what extras come in the premium level. Try building a website on a few different platforms to see which one offers the features that you most need. Check out their testimonials to see what their customers say about them and view examples of other business websites created with their platform.

3)     Hire a designer at a fraction of the cost

The beauty of a website publishing platform such as Wix, is that you can build a great website with no design skills. Yet if you decide that you want an expert’s touch then hire a website designer who can build you a website on your platform of choice, for a fraction of the cost of a site built from scratch.  If you go in that direction be sure to follow the guidelines I’ve given you above.

So, whether you decide to do it yourself, or employ a professional, try to stay in control of the process, be clear on your goals for the website, do your research and stay true to your business instinct and your site will be the starting block for a successful business.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Charles Lingard

    Yes! You can build a website yourself, if you have the time, but how will you ensure that it is found by people looking for what you are selling? Most businesses in the small category have what we in the business call 'dead sites' A lovely website but where is it?
    Another thing, more and more people are searching for you on their mobile phone.It's a safe bet that your lovely website looks horrible on a mobile device. Yes! Don't get ripped off, but there are some honest designers out there.

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