Due diligence with your new website designer
June 3rd, 2019
One of the most frustrating things for us is not being chosen to build a website for a customer when we know we're the perfect match for them. What's even more frustrating is when a customer chooses an alternative designer who's made misleading claims. The majority of our customers are small or start-up businesses and so are often working with a tight budget. Most of these companies will not have the funds to go through multiple design processes with different designers and so if it doesn't work out, it could potentially make or break their business.
Below, we have put together a list of things we recommend checking before choosing your web designer to help ensure there are no unwelcome surprises.
1. How Long Have They Been Trading?
Do a bit of research to see how long the web designer has been in business. We know that age isn't everything, but a long running business can indicate whether or not their business model is sustainable. This is important because a high proportion of businesses fail in their first few years and so you want to make sure you don't find yourself without a website if the worst happens.
2. Check If They Are They A Limited Company
Generally, a more established business will choose to be a limited company. This means that their business is a legal entity in its own right. If a company is not limited, they are Sole Traders. Sole Traders are not a legal entity and technically you're entering a legal contract with a person rather than a business. A limited company is more likely to stick around whereas a sole trader might just be providing the services temporarily. To spot if a company is limited, legally they should include their company name and company number on the footer of their website. You can check this against the Companies House database to confirm their address or to see if they even exist. You can find the Companies House website here: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company.
3. Check If They Are VAT Registered
By law, companies in the UK that have a turnover of 85K and over must be VAT registered. If a company is VAT registered, this should be displayed on their website. A company turning over less than 85K a year can still become VAT registered. This can sometimes suggest a small company is bigger than they are however it does provide an indication that they a committed to the business since being VAT registered does give them additional administrative burdens. You can check their company VAT number to see if it is valid. You can do this using this website: http://www.vatcheck.eu/
4. Look For Their Address On Their Website
Check their company address is on their website. It's important that in the event you need to address things formally, you have a way to write to them. It can also help you confirm if they are really based where they say they are e.g. a designer may claim to be in the UK but in fact they are not.
5. Research Their Reviews And Feedback
Reviews can be a useful way to tell if a company is genuine. Type the company name into Google and see if there are any reviews on sites such as Trustpilot. Be aware that all companies have good and bad reviews. It's not possible to please everyone, so the occasional bad review is nothing to be alarmed by. However, if a company has a high number of bad reviews relative to good, this is a red flag.
6. Consider Calling Some Of Their Customers
A company will always show off its more raving reviews. It might be worth considering calling a customer of the designer quoting you. This might give you a more honest review of their service, as you only ever see a short snippet of their experience. Calling more than one customer is ideal to paint a complete picture. It's possible that you could call the one in a thousand who is unhappy over the thousand happy customers. This will give you a good indication if a company is genuine and work to a high standard.
7. Do They Make Incorrect or Misleading Claims?
Make sure you compare companies. If a company make bold claims, it's worth being suspicious and checking it out. For example, some companies claim to be the only website design company to provide SSL with their website build. However, many website companies include SSL as standard. Another frequent claim that we hear is 'I was told by another company I would be guaranteed first on Google'. In reality, no one can make this promise. There are thousands of businesses out there and everyone wants to be number one. Companies can help improve your SEO but can't guarantee top stop. Make sure you do some research and fact checking on these type of claims.
8. Do They Tell You How It Is?
Be wary of companies who just tell you what you want to hear. A designer who gives you an honest appraisal sets a good foundation for the future relationship.
Hopefully these tips will help you make the right choice when choosing your web designer. Of course this list is not exhaustive and in the end you should trust your intuition. If something doesn't look right, continue your search until you find a company you feel confident working with.
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