We’ve all had our scrapes with a less-than-capable “professional” in life – sometimes your auto mechanic forgets to reinstall the rear axle in your car, sometimes the doctor leaves his cell phone next to your liver when he removes your gallbladder, and now and then the mail carrier puts your package of tighty whities that you were too embarrassed to buy in-store on the porch in the rain.
While all these are pretty awful to have to deal with, there’s one pseudo-professional that rules them all. They can be an individual or a posse, they often lurk in the deepest shadows of the “Gigs” board on Craigslist, and they almost always come promising torrential rains of cash for your company. Who are they?
The Web Fakegency.
They can wreak havoc on your business. They will take your money and hand you a cash-hemorrhaging website so fast you’ll feel like you’re in Vegas, but without the false hopes and alcohol.
Luckily, we can help you spot them.
Signs and Symptoms
There are countless ways to tell that you’re dealing with a fly-by-nighter, but we’ve narrowed down the most common of them to keep an eye out for:
1. They’re Cheap
The first tell-tale sign of a farce is when you ask your agency (or freelancer) for a replica of Google, and to rank #1 on the front page of the REAL Google, and they quote you $2000.
None of us want to spend fifty G’s on a personal blog, but if you’re asking for some complex functionality and you still think “Not bad”, you’re being undercharged, and you should be concerned.
2. They install a prebuilt theme and configure it, then refer to themselves as “web developers” or “codemonkeys”.
As silly as it sounds, this is an all-too-common situation to run across with freelancers and web agencies these days. If you go to an agency expecting a custom website and they hand you a website with a dashboard that says “Divi” in the sidebar, you’re not getting a custom website. And you probably just got duped.
3. Speaking of Divi, they use a page builder to build your site
It’s pretty plain and simple – if your web agency is building you a website utilizing a drag and drop, wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) page builder, they’re not real web developers, and they probably never will be.
4. They don’t have any case studies
Any good web agency will have a page dedicated to successful projects and detailed case studies. You want to see what kind of results you’re going to get out of working with them, don’t you? Well unless they aren’t legit, so will they.
5. Their website sucks
This one should be pretty obvious, but if a company who’s job and claim is to make great websites, and their website isn’t top-notch, find another agency. Please.
This is not, however, always the case with freelance developers
Just kidding. Or are we?
Call them out
If you’re still not sure, one good way to find out is ask them a few questions to keep ‘em on their toes. Here are a few good ones:
1. What technologies will you use to build my website?
Simple reasoning for this one – if they know their stuff, they’ll know exactly what they’re using. You might want to do a little research on modern web development trends to that you’re not going in blind.
2. Who will be working on my website?
Get a feel for who this place has working for them. If they have one person doing the design, development, and SEO, as well as the ongoing maintenance of the website, and that person is the one talking to you, that should raise some red flags.
3. What services do you offer?
If you find out from the previous question that they only have 2 employees, yet they offer SEO, custom web development, digital marketing, design, print marketing, software dev, and web security, run. Each of these services require true experts and should not be taken lightly, and one person should not be wearing 4 hats.
4. How do you pronounce “GIF”?
If they even start to say “Jif”, leave. Just leave.
Beware the DIYers, too
Fakegencies/fake-end developers aren’t the only ones you need to watch out for. If you’re strapped for cash, the idea of DIY might start to sound really good to you.
However, DIY on your own website is usually about as good of an idea as trying to make a Pinterest cake – It’s almost guaranteed to not come out as good as you think.
We get it, sometimes you need to get your hands dirty. But a website is not one of those things you should get your hands dirty with. So please, please, please, pay no mind to bloggers, businesses, or non-professionals who say you can.
Why we no likey bad websites from bad web shops
Why shouldn’t you leave your website in the hands of an amateur?
Because your website is a virtual representation of your business.
Contrary to what you may think or see on the surface, there is a science behind building an effective website. Each cog in the wheel of web professionals at a web shop has been learning how to effectively generate website visitors into paying customers for years. This is not something that any pop-up agency can do right, especially in the ever-expanding frontier of the Internet in this digital age.
What could happen if you do hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing?
Not only would you be wasting the most likely thousands of dollars on an essentially useless website, but your website could also actually lose your business. As mentioned before, there is a science behind building websites, and a poorly constructed one can turn away visitors faster than the lady behind the counter at the DMV when you forgot your birth certificate at home.
It’s the Wild West out there. Make sure you’re hiring a cowboy.