Just about every business needs a website in today’s digitized world, regardless of industry. But not all business owners know what it takes to create a great one.

Website design horror stories are a dime a dozen in the ever-growing online landscape, with small business owners being duped into paying tens of thousands of dollars for ready-made, template type websites.

If you don’t have an existing website for your business, taking on the responsibility of creating one can be a daunting task.

Although you won’t be responsible for the technical side of things, you’ll need to find someone who is. Not having this technical know-how is largely why many business owners either grab the first offer that comes along, or put off the task altogether.

Knowing what to look for when selecting a web design agency to either create a new website, or update an existing one can be a challenge to say the least. Both are huge undertakings which many underestimate; a website project can be a time sucking, resource grabbing undertaking.

The web design company that you choose can be the difference between having an affordable website that not only looks good but functions well, or having one that looks good, but is hugely overpriced and doesn’t keep the end user in mind.

SEO, title tags, meta descriptions, sitemaps and so on. There may be a lot of jargon associated to website development and design, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be across it all in order to get a great website.

Knowing what to look for, and what to steer away from, is key to having a great website that will do what its built to do i.e. increase sales and ultimately improve your bottom line.

If you’re embarking on a website design or re-design, there are some fundamentals that will guide you during the process. Understanding these overarching principles will make your website design journey that much easier, ensuring that you get value for money.

In no way are we saying that every web design agency is trying to rip off their customers. There are countless reputable design agencies out there, who always keep the customer’s best interests in mind.

However, there are just as many agencies who take the unsuspecting business owner for a ride, overcharging and under delivering. Taking advantage of their customer’s limited knowledge when it comes to the back end/technical side of website design.

If you’re about to embark on a website project, avoid getting scammed by learning what red flags to look out for.


Here are 4 insider tips that’ll reveal if your Web Design Agency is scamming you:


1. They Don’t Try To Understand Your Market




Each industry has its quirks that are uniquely relevant to it, as well as to the organisations that operate within it. Current and future trends, consumer behaviours and patterns, industry frameworks, technology advances etc. all affect the way each business operates within their industry.

Your website design agency needs to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to your relevant industry. If they don’t, they should be doing everything they can to get a deeper understanding of the intricacies of how your industry works.

From undertaking their own research, to having detailed discussions with those in the business who have a greater insight into these elements, understanding your business and your industry should be the first port of call for any website designer.

If your website design agency has zero drive to understand your industry, and how you fit into it then this is a major red flag.

For example, the online retail market has seen rapid growth in recent years. The way consumers traditionally purchase retail goods has been completely altered by the internet. They now have access to millions of goods at the click of a button.

If you’re a retail business that operates within this space, there’s no doubt that you want to ensure that your website reflects current trends, and has the ability to incorporate future trends down the track.

Trends like flexible payment options i.e. After pay, as well as having chat bots for general customer service queries are becoming the norm within the online retail industry. Augmented reality is rapidly growing in order to give customers a realistic experience. And on-site personalisation, with sections like “you might also like’ and ‘why not try’ are all adding to the buyer experience. Voice search is the next big thing in SEO with 65% of consumers aged 25-49 talking to their voice-enabled devices daily.

All of these trends are critical to creating a website that provides the buyer with a personalised experience, and leads them down the buyer journey within the online retail space. If the designer doesn’t understand those industry intricacies, then the resulting website is guaranteed to be ineffective.

If your website designer doesn’t have an understanding of your industry specifics, then your website won’t reflect them, it’s as simple as that. You’re bound to end up with a website that looks fantastic, but doesn’t have the key elements that are critical to industry success now, and into the future.


2. They Call A $100 Web Template A “Custom Design”



The website design industry itself has gone through some drastic changes in current years. A shift towards “self-service” website templates that just about anyone can use, has driven the accessibility of them online.

The demand for websites, combined with the need for non-techy individuals to be able to create them, has led to these pre-made templates popping up all over the internet on sites like Envato.

While this has been a benefit to those businesses that are happy to use the same “cookie cutter” templates that hundreds of other businesses are most likely using, it’s been a downfall for those searching for a bespoke site.

Some website designers have jumped onto the template bandwagon by charging customers for custom websites but are in fact using templates to create these sites.

What does this mean for the customer? It means they are being charged tens of thousands of dollars for websites that are basically just edited templates.

Designers are doing less work but still charging a premium. You’re not getting a website that has been built from scratch to specifically suit your needs, you’re getting a slightly modified version of an existing template that may not be exactly right for your business that costs as little as $40.

Shortcuts occur in every industry but it’s becoming more common in the website design space.

The simple truth of the matter is that a custom-built website shouldn’t cost you 15k unless it has a hugely complex design. The cost of a custom small business website generally starts at around the 3k mark. The greater the complexity, the greater the cost.

If you’re being charged anywhere towards the 10k mark for a fairly standard site then you know that you’re being scammed.


3. User Experience Isn’t A Priority



A website’s usability is arguably one of its most important elements, if not the most important. How a potential customer uses a website will directly affect whether that browser becomes a buyer or not.

Ease of use is key here.

If what I’m looking for as consumer is difficult to find, then it’ll be put into the “too hard basket” category, rather than the cart.

Consumers want things to be easy, and why shouldn’t they? They’re spending their hard-earned money on your good or service, so they should be able to find it without exerting too much effort.

Time is a commodity these days, with people having less spare time than ever before. The last thing they need in their time poor lives is to have to mine through pages of content in order to find what they’re looking for.

Consumers want things quickly, easily and instantly. If you’re not offering them an easy experience, then they’ll find someone who does.

If your designer doesn’t make the effort to understand your customers and their behaviours, then that’s a sign that they really don’t care about the end user or the usability of the site.

If they aren’t making recommendations to you about best practice web usability principles, then that’s another red flag. They’re the experts, so they should be firstly, getting to know your customer, and secondly making recommendations based on that information about how to provide the best user experience possible.

It would be like an online news site not having the current news on the homepage or be like Facebook not having the feed front and centre.

Understanding the end user, as well as how they use your site should be the driving force behind your website design, not an afterthought.


4. As Long As It Looks Great




Having an appealing website is critical to a professional digital presence. If a website doesn’t look good, it can have a negative effect on your brand’s perception.  The user will also have no reason to stick around.

The way a website looks is critical, however it’s not everything. Having an appealing website is one part of the puzzle, not the entire puzzle.

Website developers will often charm unsuspecting customers with a great looking website that has little or no conversion elements. The entire existence of a website is to encourage action from the user. Whether it be to subscribe to your newsletter, sign up to create an account, or to buy a product or service.

Every business wants a website that converts, whatever form that conversion has.

A great looking website that doesn’t convert is pretty much a waste of time and money. It’s really just a placeholder that looks pretty which has very little value to your business.

Don’t get me wrong. An outdated or poorly designed website will have an effect on conversion. You’ll have a high bounce rate if your website is uninteresting, old-fashioned or hard to understand.

A schmick design initially grabs the user’s attention, it doesn’t keep them browsing. It’s usability, appealing content and conversion elements is what keeps the browser on the site, leading them down the buyer journey.

Conversion elements like requesting emails in exchange for a free downloadable guide, are add ons which all increase to your sales funnel. Getting a prospect’s email can be greatly valuable, or a lost opportunity if the types of elements aren’t incorporated in your website’s design.


Selecting A Web Design Company


Creating or updating a website shouldn’t be a challenge that you dread to take on, it should be an exciting project that you look forward to. If done right, your website can take your business to the next level, opening you up to a global market.

Great web design is about providing value to the customer, not about ripping them off.

Unfortunately, like many other industries out there, some web designers are cutting corners and scamming customers into paying large amounts of money for inferior websites.

Selecting a web design company in Melbourne should be that much easier now that you have inside information about the critical elements of great website design.

Keep these elements in mind to make sure that you’re getting value for money when it comes to your next website project. They’ll act as guiding principles when you’re searching for the right partner to take on your project, ensuring that the result is a website that is perfectly suited to your business.

Always ensure that the end user the driving force for your website; ultimately, they’re the individuals that will use it. Think like your customer and make sure that your website designer does the same. This will ensure that the end result is a user friendly website that gives the end user a personalised experience that’s enjoyable, rather than one that’s frustrating.

Use this insider info to avoid the scammers and choose a web design agency in Melbourne that can bring your website vision to life. They’ll take the time to understand your business, your industry and your customers in order to create a site that acts as a digital extension of your business, rather than just an add on.