Warning from a Business Owner – Website Design Buyers Guide Series
In this series we are providing a buyer’s guide to web design services. To give a more balanced range of advice we have accepted contributions from business owners with experience in buying web design services. In future series we will also cover SEO Services and online marketing. We will also add our input to the guides with the prefix ED:
Name: Elizabeth Ball Email: info @ itsinthestarsonline.com
I am about to engage my third web developer in 5 years for my website at www.itsinthestarsonline.com.
It took me seven sets of interviews via a project manager to find the first web development company!
These guys were well recommended and delivered almost on time, a solid – yet virtually unchangeable – website which was designed using proprietary content management system software which cost hundreds of dollars per month. The design was set in stone by the original designer, with the order (or Buy Now) button at the very bottom of the long scrolling page.
ED: Yes this is a common issue; there are 2 good points here. Where possible get an “open source” content management system (CMS) which means you will own the website completely when completed. You will also then be free to take it to another developer if needed, and we’ll see why that is important next. The second point is flexibility in content; many sites are designed by graphic designers which often leads to sites that are quite fixed and inflexible, even if they are using a CMS. A true web designer will consider how easy it is to change content down the track which includes things like making all content text where possible, having images in modular formats that can be changed, and keeping fixed elements to a minimum.
Unable to change anything without incurring great cost, and with the head developer, 2ic developer and project manager all departing, I decided to totally revamp my website, and began hunting for someone in July 2010.
This time i sought someone who could design in WordPress – I heard it is great for SEO – and hired a very charming young guy whose girlfriend was the designer.
I added a range of products, and requested the design be based on one of the leading US floral gift websites.
In the seven months I have been using this design, conversion has doubled.
ED: Great! This is often known as “Conversion Rate Optimisation” which a good design can achieve, or often existing designs can be modified to achieve an increased conversion to sales or inquiries.
However, my now-ex developer is charming and lovely but cannot and has not met a single deadline, cannot spell, does not wear his glasses hence endless silly mistakes occur and he has consistently given me false hope of properly finishing the website. In fact, I still had to run the old – and expensive – CMS until 30 June, which was 3 and half months after launching the new website so I could successfully and correctly produce my astrology reports.
My new web developer has come highly recommended by a complete network of mumpreneurs who also rely on him. His rates are reasonable and I eagerly await the first range of updates.
I would be happy to help you with your story.
ED: Thanks very much for your contribution Elizabeth and let’s hope your words of wisdom help other business avoid the pitfalls. All the best of luck with your future developments online. Elizabeth can be found online using the links below.
It’s In The Stars Pty Ltd