Your website is the cornerstone of your online marketing efforts. Your social media posts, search rankings, email marketing messages, and videos all drive users back to your website for more information.
Before you dive into one website design path or another, you need to understand the warning signs that may appear along the way.
Don’t sign a contract or hand over a payment until you have answers to these questions.
Who Hosts Your Website?
If you use an online website builder to create and host your website, are you confident that you’ll have access to your domain name and hosting information if you leave their service? Make sure you’re able to if you ever want to switch services in the future.
On top of that, many freelancers and agencies will help you with your domain name and hosting account. Make sure they do so using the highest security measures possible. Remember, a hacked website is worse than no website at all.
At Titan Web Marketing Solutions, we use SiteLock for every website we build. Our clients never have to worry about a hacked website.
Who Owns the Web Design Files?
No matter what website design service you choose to pursue, find out if you own the rights to the website files, including:
- Website Content such as Copywriting and Blog Posts
- Design Files
- The Website Code, Security Information, and Access Information
We’ve had to completely recreate a website because the client’s current website service would not surrender design files for a website she paid for. We highly recommend that you choose an agency, freelancer, or professional who will provide you with all of the files whenever you request them.
How Do They Plan to Rank Your Website?
Some agencies, freelancers, and online website builders include SEO services in their website design packages. Take a look at the tactics they use before handing over payment.
If they use spammy SEO techniques to rank your website, you’ll endure long-term consequences for your short-term ranking gains.
To determine their strategy, ask the following questions:
- How do they conduct their keyword research?
- How will my ranking efforts be integrated into the website design process?
- Who will be creating the optimized content — the professional or me?
- Are they using the proper link building and structuring techniques?
Do they understand and execute the latest SEO best practices?
- Are they aware of any and all recent search algorithm changes?
- Do they have a team dedicated to your strategy, or is it outsourced?
Is It Really a Custom Website?
There’s an epidemic in the website design world. Freelancers and some agencies are trying to pass WordPress themes as 100% custom website designs.
WordPress is a Content Management System. Since Content Management Systems make development easier, thousands of themes have been developed to make the process faster too.
While these themes are great for business owners trying to go at the web design process alone, some freelancers and agencies use them as part of their efforts. The sad part is that they charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for these designs, when they only paid $50 for the theme and only spent a few hours editing it.
To us, this is dishonest to customers. Clients pay a large sum of money under the assumption they are receiving a website that is genuinely created, from scratch, for their business.
Think your website company used a WordPress theme or other template to create your site, while charging you for a true custom website? Click below to see how you can find out for yourself.
How Will Your Website Images and Content be Obtained?
Another situation plaguing the web design industry is copyright fraud and plagiarism. For some odd reason, people still believe that images found on Google and words on the Internet are free reign.
Taking images and words from other websites is illegal. Some freelancers and agencies might cut corners or unknowingly take copyrighted content to use on your website without your knowledge.
We recently had a client whose business faced a lawsuit for the illegal use of a copyrighted image — which they had no knowledge of. Their previous web designer lifted the image for use on the client’s website.
We’ve also encountered professionals who believe that ‘if I cite their website or link back to their website, it’s all good!’
Did they receive permission from the content’s rightful owner to do so? Is that link to the original source beneficial for your search ranking efforts? If you or your web design agency are dead set on using content and/or images from another website, ask before you use!
Can You Easily Update Your Website?
Upon going live, will you have the ability to add or edit areas of your website? If you’re responsible for your own marketing, you better have access to your website and fully understand how to use it.
If your intended company or web design expert is adamant about not giving you full access to the website you paid for, that’s a major red flag.
Often, our clients fall into one of the three following situations:
- They want full control over their website and training on how to use it. (Which we gladly provide.)
- They want access to the website, but would like us to make their requested edits. (Once again, no problem!)
- They don’t want any access to their website and want to leave it for the pros to manage. (Happy to oblige.)
No matter how much or how little access to your website you want, your web design agency should be more than happy to accommodate your desires.
Will Your Site Be Drowning in Plugins?
Plugins are pre-written pieces of code that enhance the functionality of WordPress websites. These plugins can be created by one person or by huge organizations with multiple developers working on them. They can range from free to expensive, to a monthly payment plan.
Although it may seem like a good idea to have many plugins on a website, it opens the door to multiple security vulnerabilities, functionality conflicts, and additional scripts that could slow your site down.
If your web designer or agency insists on using 15+ plugins in order for your website to properly function either back out, find a different solution, or prepare for a world of security issues and slow loading speeds.
Drag and Drop Builders
Now, you can use drag and drop builders to create and launch your own site. But if you pay someone else to do the same exact thing, isn’t that a waste of money?
Find out how your website designer/agency/freelancer of choice plans to build your website. If it’s a modified WordPress theme, ask why they don’t custom code. If they plan to use an online website builder, you can bet they don’t have enough knowledge to custom code or they just want to get your project off their plate as quick as possible.
Checking off more than one of these warning signs when talking to a potential website designer or agency? Time to look elsewhere!