You just hired a web developer to build you a fantastic website. You are so excited you made your first investment, then you wait… and wait. You hear nothing, and just as you wonder if the developer ran off with your money, you receive a vague email about them working on your project with arbitrary dates. You feel happy and confused all at the same time. Of course, you are thrilled that they didn’t run off with your money, but where have they been and they already started on your website without even having a consultation to discuss your needs or preferences. At this point, your trust is broken. You may even feel slightly jaded toward the developer and all developers, which is understandable as the field didn’t get its bad reputation for nothing. Yet you still acknowledge that you need a website, you have given them some money, and maybe it will turn out better than you think.
If this scenario leaves you with PTSD or at least fleeting memories of a bad experience, you would not be the first. But how can you achieve your marketing goals without a website?
Well in this article, we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of what could go wrong in development of your website. We also offer some solutions to avoid scenarios like this in the future.
Problem 1: The ‘I’m just here for a paycheck’ Web Developer
This may not be the most obvious problem with your website, but in reality it is one of the more detrimental problems. When your web developer is just there to do a job rather than to guide your project, they are doing you a disservice. Your website is your digital business card, your listing in the yellow pages, and a prospect’s first impression, so when they build a fully-functional site that does nothing to help your business grow, it might be better to not have a site at all.
Your site is so much more than the design and functionality. Donald Miller says, “Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things.” The problem with a good-looking website that has terrible content is that it is much like a corvette without an engine. It won’t go anywhere. Your bounce rate will be high, which won’t help your business grow. Prospects want content that will speak to their problem and answer solutions or they will quickly leave.
Now it is not necessarily the website developer’s job to write content, but it is their responsibility to ensure that you have good content. If you don’t, they should direct you to a copywriter who can create website content that will convert into leads.
Problem 2: The ‘We are getting close’ Web Developer
This goes back to the problem that we introduced in the beginning of this article. This developer continues to put you and your project off or is unreachable. A web developer that is flaky or ghosts you will prolong the growth of your business. No website equals no leads.
The solution to avoid this is twofold. When interviewing a website designer or developer, read their reviews. The reviews will tell you more than their portfolio. If they are good, they will have raving fans. If they push project deadlines back or are slow to develop a site they will have few or lacking reviews. Solution two is to ask them about their process and timeline. Make sure they have a process with clear timelines. An experienced web developer should easily be able to tell you how long a project will take. While inquiring about timelines, ask them if a project has ever been delayed and why. Then find out what they did to avoid project delays in the future? If they struggle to adequately address your questions, you may have your answer.
Problem 3: The ‘I can totally do that’ Web Developer
This problem makes me cringe inwardly and outwardly. When interviewing your web developer, you ask if they can build a store, add a chatbox, or create an out-of-the-box design. Whatever the request for the site, they say, “oh yeah, I can do that.” Then when you go to review the site, it falls short. The functionality is lacking or the site is not as you expected. This project can only end in one of two ways. You can either settle for a site that is below expectations, or you take your project elsewhere, costing you more money.
“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.” – Jakob Nielsen
Sadly, the solution comes in the avoidance of working with the developer. There is no after-the-project fix other than to hire someone else to fix or create a new site. But before you start a project and during the interview process ask questions, review their portfolio, and read reviews. Spend some time visiting their past projects and playing around on the sites.
In addition, when it comes to the design of the site, make sure you like their past projects. Design is subjective, so provide them with examples of sites you like and hate with a short explanation as to why. Many times, the examples of bad websites my clients have provided me with have been more helpful than the good ones. Knowing what they dislike helps me to understand their style. In the end, the more information you provide, the more likely you will love your website.
The last solution is to make sure they allow for site revisions. Finally, understand how they handle feedback. Their reaction to this question might be a good indicator if they are the web developer for your project.
Problem 4: The ‘That will be in addition to…’ Web Developer
You are halfway through your website build, and your developer says it will cost more. No one likes surprises. Additional fees could include the purchase of a new domain, hosting, stock image, plugins, themes, etc. An experienced developer may not know the exact price of an additional feature on a discovery call. Still, they should be able to find the answer before they send the proposal to you.
When receiving their proposal, ensure that the price listed is the final cost and that additional add-ons are made clear. No one wants to find out halfway through the process that they have to spend more money. It’s like hiring a contractor to remodel your bathroom and finding out that the bathtub was not included in the price. It should all be laid out in the beginning.
Another suggestion is to ensure that you and the developer are clear on the project’s scope. For example, the website’s size or functionality will increase the project’s price.
Conversely, it is important to understand that if you decide to add something to the site later, you should expect the price listed in the proposal to change. Have an open and transparent conversation with the developer about what the additions will cost.
Problem 5: The ‘Your site is down, but I am going to get it back up soon’ Web Developer
Your project is going great, you love the site that has been developed for you, and the final step is to move to your domain. When the developer goes to move your new website onto your existing domain, the site goes down. I mean, your old site is no longer there, and neither is the new site. Everyone is rushing around trying to diagnose and fix the problem.
A website going down during the migration process can happen for various reasons. Most sites can have a very short outage (usually 10 minutes) in the process of being moved or launched. Still, a website down longer than an hour has encountered a more complex issue. There are various reasons for this, including your developer forgetting a step in the process, not understanding your DNS (domain name system) or hosting setup, etc.
There are a variety of solutions and fail-safes to avoid this problem. First, ask if they have a process or a checklist for launching the website. Next, ensure they have everything they need from you, including hosting and domain access. Then inquire about their process for launching a site, is there any preliminary research they do before they start the move? And finally, ask if they will move your site during non-peak or after business hours? These simple safeguards can help you avoid a lot of frustration.
Another less common issue with a website launch could be that the new site is up, but your email is down. This usually means they erased important DNS records that were added for your email provider to work.
Website projects can go smoothly. Working with an experienced web developer who has a process that includes communication and feedback will go a long way in the success of your new website.