Need a website? 4 mistakes to avoid in your searches

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So you’re starting a new business and it will be great! You have the team, you have the plan – just need a website. When looking for the best person or team to build your website exactly the way you want it, it would help to be careful and not make one of the 4 most common mistakes people make that would delay your project and cause frustration.

They’re small mistakes usually born out of simply not knowing the domain too well. We don’t know how installing solar panels works so we’re probably going to make mistakes too when looking for a contractor if we want solar panels on the roof on our office. Same thing. So to make sure everything runs perfectly smooth, we’ve come up with a short list of the most common mistakes (and biggest time wasters) to avoid.

Expecting one person to do 5 jobs

“We’re hiring a developer to build a website who will also do SEO, graphic design, promotions, come up with innovative marketing strategies and would it be possible to walk my dog too?”

Modified an actual ad for comedic effect, but looking-for-all-in-one ads have started popping up more often lately. There’s nothing wrong with needing a lot of things to go along with your website – but one person can’t do everything because most professionals are specialized in only one or two areas. And the person’s head would explode.

If by some accident you find someone to fit the bill, you’ll either quickly realize they’re mediocre at best or that they can’t handle so much work and will still have to hire more people – after wasting time and money.

When you start a new business and need a website, but also need more things to go along with it, put on paper all the extra things you need. A very very simple rundown:

  • Website building – web developer or web designer
  • Logo, banners, business cards, brochures – graphic designer
  • Marketing, online marketing, promoting – marketing professional
  • Writing content, product descriptions, articles, press releases – content writer

Either think about hiring different professionals to do each job or work with an agency that can provide most things. It will save you a lot of time that you would have spent chasing an unicorn developer.

 

Asking for a quote without giving enough details about the project

“I need a website. Send portfolios and quotes at…”

A furniture store is different from a computer repair shop – their websites will have few in common as well. Most agencies and freelancers work with various businesses that have different needs and requirements, so they will simply analyze your needs and offer you a personalized quote.The ones that offer fixed rates usually specialize in one type of thing, say, online furniture stores, and they’ll be cookie cutter websites.

Forcing a quote out of someone without enough details will mean the developer will have to guess what you need and how much work it means, so when giving you a quote for the work, expect:

  • a too high quote – meant to cover their costs if the client decides they want more features than predicted. A bad thing for the client who only wants a basic website because he ends up paying more.
  • a too low quote – based strictly on the little information provided. A bad thing for the developer/agency if the client decides he wants more features as they will work more for the same money. Happy developers give the project their all, frustrated developers, not so much. Like anybody.

If costs are crucial for you, make a short plan with all the pages and features you will need to send to agencies or freelancers before you decide who to work with or expect to give a detailed account of your requirements when prompted. If you’re not sure what you need from the website, some developers or agencies can consult you and help with deciding either for free or for a small fee.

Choosing the lowest bidder

“I need a website. Send portfolios and quotes at…”

The same tag as the last point for a reason – not giving details about the project and immediately asking for a quote is usually an indicator of a lowest bid chaser.

It’s definitely not a bad thing to want the lowest bid, low budgets happen – just be careful with that. If costs weigh the most in your decision, you’re taking a risk:

  • the quality might suffer. Freelancers or agencies who charge too little can have very little experience and charge little just to build their portfolio and so they experiment on your website. Others just compromise on quality to churn out something cheap and fast.
  • the project might be done by outsourcing. Some freelancers or agencies can take on large projects for a small cost and outsource most of the work. Not a great option if you’re concerned about your data being moved between too many different hands. Other agencies have the manpower to do everything in-house and may charge more.

If you’re ok with these points and will look for the lowest bidder, you’re prepared now in case you run into issues. Ask any developer and most will say they had to redo at least one client’s website built by “the son of the cousin of an employee” or by someone who “said he could build it in 2 days for $200”. Getting the right freelancer or agency for the job will spare you the headache.

Not conveying enough information or being vague about what you need

“I’d like the logo to be minimalist, but in an art deco style, try to use a bird or a leaf in there, put in some violet and make it POP!”

The woes of graphic designers. They have it the hardest.

Usually being too vague or having too many conflicting ideas can lead to frustration on both parts – on one hand there’s the developer shooting (working) in the dark hoping to get the unclear result you wanted, on the other there’s you thinking “What the hell, it’s nothing  like I wanted”. And everything just leads to more delays in finishing the website. Wonderful.

When you need a website, you either know exactly what you want or, well, you don’t.

  • If you know exactly what you want: explain it to the developer in very clear and concrete terms, so he or she knows what to do to put your idea into pixels. Be specific, don’t let anything be vague or left to interpretation – and be open to their input too. They’re professionals and their experience and insight can help make your website better than you planned. Exactly why you hired them.
  • If you don’t know what you want: if you just have an idea or only know the rough lines, tell your developer that and make a plan together. They will learn what you want to accomplish with the website and come up with ways to achieve that.

All in all, a bit of research and planning before contacting a freelancer or agency, along with lots of communication afterwards, will help your project run smoothly. Are there any other simple mistakes people make when contacting freelancers or agencies to build a website? How about the mistakes they make when talking to you about your project? I’d love to hear them!

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