How not to get ripped off when hiring a web company.

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The following is a guide to show you just some of the things you should look out for when hiring a website designer. Please pay close attention to it, and be wary of the any other examples, which you can send me a message informing me of, to add to the guide.

Some of my clients have come to me with horror stories of having paid well over the odds for web design services - and in some cases been charged for 5 times as much as they needed to have paid for things they didn’t even need.

As someone who knows nothing about some of the more technical aspects of web design and what it takes to get a website set up, the task can be a daunting one.

Here are a few things you should be wary of when looking around for the right web designer to help you build a presence on the internet:

Excessive hosting charges
Many client's inform me they are currently paying over £200 for hosting, this is clearly an extortionate amount, and the only circumstance in which you should be paying over £200 for hosting is when your site has excessive bandwidth usage, which only occurs on the most popular of websites, in which case you should be on your own server.

Many web designers will convince you that you must use their hosting services if you work with them, scaring you with stories of how other services are insecure, can leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks and that you really are safer using the service they provide.

In some cases, this can be the easiest solution, due to the site requiring certain server features. However, the designer should be willing to set this up on your own server/hosting (or another hosting providers) for only a small extra charge. You should make sure you ask about the hosting arrangement before any confirmation of purchase.

Surprise additional costs & charges
Its the same throughout the entire business world, there any many 'cowboys' out there who are there for a quick buck, and will add surplus charges throughout the process, and once you are in. They have you trapped. The best way to avoid this is to make sure they provide you with a clear quote of exactly what they are providing at the start of the process. Also, if there are any additional charges, make sure the necessity of these is explained thoroughly.

If you think you might want some additional functionality or non-standard things on your site before a company starts to build it, discuss this with them and get their input on how best to do it, whether it can be done and how much it will cost to do it before they start developing the site. They may be able to suggest a solution you hadn’t thought of or make you aware of the pro’s and cons of what you’re suggesting.

Follow-up support
Make sure you know what, if any, and how much follow-up support for your website is available. Whilst it is possible for other companies to take over the management and updating of your site, it can sometimes involve a challenging hand-over (depending upon how the site has been set up) and more hassle than it’s worth.

This effectively then means you may well have a long (and fruitful) relationship with your web designer - if this is going to be the case, choose carefully and make sure you pick someone you like and can trust. You may also want to ask for a copy of the original website files (some firms will charge you a premium to hand these over), so that should you want to go elsewhere, you have the files for someone else to use.

It is unfortunate, but true, that there are many cowboy designers out there, who will resell the same website, again and again, with only a few graphics (like the logo) changed. They are the worst of the worst of website designers, and you should be exceptionaly wary of them, they will charge hundreds of pounds for something that takes them only a few minutes to wack up, and the website they produce will look just like thousands of others on the internet.

Whilst I would love for you to choose to work with me as your web designer, I also know I'm not right for everyone - and that’s a good thing, I'm not trying to appeal to everyone!

However, if you have any questions about a firm you’re considering hiring and you’re just not sure whether it’s a good deal or not, leave drop me a message and ill have a look at there site / offer.

Heres a quick tip that will probably guide you to avoid some of the worst designers out there:

Goto and put there website in.

This site validates the compliancy of there code to the global web standard, meaning that if it isnt valid, then it doesnt work on all browsers, or computers. (which obviously is incredibly bad)

Good luck, Ashton.
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