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How to Know if You’ve Hired a Bad Web Designer

By March 18, 2013December 28th, 2014blog

Throughout my 16 years of building websites, I’ve worked within web agencies, and I’ve hired many web agencies.  I’ve heard their pitches and I’ve fixed their work.  I know intimately how they make money, how they staff, what drives them and why so many are simply not worth what you pay them.  That said, there are many companies that are worth their weight in gold.

What Red Flags You’ve Hired a Bad Agency?

So I’ve compiled a list of red flags and warning signs to watch our for if you outsource your website.  You should really question who you are working with if you encounter any of these issues.

  1. The web team changes regularly.  I once worked with a company that changed their graphic developer 3 times during a 2 month project because they couldn’t keep them on board.  Yikes.
  2. They agree with everything you say.  Let’s face it, if you are outsourcing your website, you did so because you need their expertise. But if they keep telling you your ideas are great or they agree to everything you want, you may want to check your contract, because either they don’t know what they are doing or their monthly bill rate is about to skyrocket.
  3. They keep preaching about you can only have two of good, fast and cheap.  This statement is true, but I’ve seen many developers beat that over a customer’s head.  The company that marches to this mantra is most likely focused more on helping themselves than helping their customers.
  4. The executives are the ones doing the work or they are the only ones you ever see.  This may be a warning sign that it is a very small company and they are trying to look bigger than they are.  Also, if they are the only ones you see, they are probably wearing too many hats in the company.
  5. You have visited their office and it’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.  I’ve seen businesses implode under the weight of them trying to look good for their customers.  They overspend because they want to appear cool.  Looking great is one thing, but it can be way overdone.  Don’t sign up with a company where the owner and the owner’s wife drive Hummers.
  6. Bids for your project range from a few hundred to five figures.  This usually means that you haven’s scoped your project well and need to rethink it.
  7. You hired them because a relative works there or recommended them. This can of course be good, but if the relative is the only one there, run away.  It can get ugly and just may not be worth it.  I’ve seen families get in fights over silly things such as this.
  8. Someone from their company wants to come work for you.  Another red flag that their environment may not be the healthiest in the world.

There are many others, but if you watch out for these, it will keep you away from a bunch of headaches. I’d love to hear any horror stories you’ve encountered.

John Paul Mains

John Paul Mains is the Chief Marketing Scientist at Click Laboratory. He loves all things digital, but especially SEO and analytics. If you're interested in learning more, his LinkedIn profile is

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