There are a million and one web design agencies claiming to know how to send your conversion rate to the moon, but very few can follow through on big claims. Learn how to spot these telltale signs of a bad website design agency before you trust them with your hard-earned cash and your website.
Choosing the right web designer in Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, and beyond can be a struggle for business owners, especially those unfamiliar with digital business, coding, or the digital design process.
What are the signs of bad web design?
Beyond slow site speeds, poor user experience, broken code, and functionality issues, you can spot many of the signs you’ll get a bad product when you vet web design agencies for the job.
We’re uncovering the biggest red flags to look for when you choose a design agency to avoid dealing with inexperienced or scammy designers and secure the best site design possible.
Some things really are too good to be true, including a website design company that charges a fraction of its competitors’ prices.
There are only a few reasons designers charge less, and none of them are good. They’re either inexperienced in the industry and willing to low-ball or won’t put enough time into designing and building a top-notch website. Since your website is the digital gateway to your business, even if you’re not selling your products or services directly from your website, it’s an integral part of your success.
Web design isn’t your cheapest investment, but it can often provide unparalleled returns on your investment, dollar for dollar. Spending even an extra few thousand up-front will produce dramatically better results that pay for themselves quickly.
Ironically, charging too much is a bad sign, too, unless the web design company has an immense portfolio of work behind them. A great designer is well-researched and understands the prevailing rates of the market, charging appropriately for their services and delivering a product that meets or exceeds the industry standards.
A few reasons why rates may sometimes vary:
Web designers charge based on experience and portfolio quality, so those who have worked for incredibly high-quality clients usually charge above the going rate.
Website development businesses that operate digitally can afford to charge clients less than those that maintain the costs of a physical office site.
Many designers have tier-based pricing systems, offering small businesses more basic cheaper packages or higher-priced sites with incredible functionality.
The size of your website influences your costs – the bigger or more complex, the more money you’ll pay.
Whether you work with a freelance web designer or a full-fledged digital marketing agency, a contract should always be in place before any work begins. A web design services contract outlines all the deliverables, costs, and timelines, holding both the designer and the business to the deal. Since many design agencies ask for partial or full payment up-front, you need to have security that if things go awry, your site isn’t delivered as promised, or disputes arise, you won’t be out-of-pocket thousands of dollars without anything to show for it.
Even smaller design jobs should have contracts in place simply because it protects both parties from significant financial losses.
If a digital agency is offering to work for no contract, you might be able to snag a “great deal” that ends up in disaster. Take it as a sign of unprofessionalism and move on to an agency that requires contracts for every deal.
Here’s what a great design contract should include:
Hourly rate or project rate for the designer(s)
Total website price with a breakdown of the individual costs and services
Any revisions included
Clear expectations about the product delivered
This one should be pretty clear. A design agency with a poorly-coded website should make you run for the hills. When an agency’s bread-and-butter service is design and they can’t even manage to create a responsive website for themselves, they’re either incompetent or don’t pay enough attention to the details – both are bad signs!
Whether they’ve been recommended to you by a friend or colleague or their cheap pricing drew you in, go with your gut here. If you don’t like their website or design style, you’re not likely to mesh well for a cohesive design vision and execution.
We’ve seen this story play out far too many times for new clients at our Hamilton and Burlington web design agency. They had another designer create their website 3 years ago, and they have no clue how to access it, let alone modify its contents.
All website owners should have full access to their website’s backend or content management system. Unfortunately, some shady design agencies want to maintain the control themselves, so you need to come back to them (and pay extra money) every time you want to make a change.
Even if you have no website knowledge, a great designer will give you the keys to the castle after their work is complete. Better yet, they’ll give you a quick walkthrough of the basics. And if you choose to outsource your site maintenance to them, they’ll charge you fairly for the work. Some site maintenance tasks take 10 minutes – you shouldn’t pay hundreds every time they touch your site.
We don’t consider a design job complete until we’ve helped our clients learn how to access their site content, and you should expect no less from any agency you choose!
The best website design agency customizes its process for each client’s needs and asks for continuous feedback throughout the process.
But how do clients give site design feedback when the website isn’t done, and they don’t understand code? That’s where mockups and prototypes come in. These visuals and working models give clients a realistic view of their website as it comes together so they can provide feedback and ask for revisions as the project comes together.
An agency that expects you to sit tight and hope your website is exactly what you want in the end is naive and potentially even lazy. Some designers don’t want to make revisions and changes because they take extra time. This very shortsighted view prioritizes immediate profits at the expense of client relationships and their brand reputation.
Here are a few previews great designers will include:
Mockup image of your website
Working prototype model
“Finalized” prototype that looks and functions exactly as your site will
Either way, you’ll pay thousands for a website. Low-quality websites don’t deliver the same seamless user experience that keeps people browsing your page for longer.
Every extra second a user stays on your site is another shot at turning them into a conversion, so a great design encourages more revenue while a poor design discourages it.
Ready to work with a top-tier local agency and maximize your revenue potential?
With almost a decade of experience in web design in Burlington, Hamilton, and the GTA, our expert team of web designers can help build the website of your dreams with clear and open communication every step of the way. Contact us to learn more and get a free cost estimate.