I admit my title is a bit tongue-in-cheek. This is not part of an official ongoing series of articles, but it really could be. There are SO many web design scams out there… What do I mean exactly by “scams”? Well take today’s story as an example.

A new client hired us today for a re-design of their website, which is awesome and we’re delighted to be working with them. We’re especially delighted because another firm underbid us by quite a bit. Now most people would have just grabbed the lowest price they could find, but to this gentleman’s credit, he took the time to analyze their numbers and he learned a few things… the bottom line is that, over the course of a year, he would have paid nearly double the amount of OUR quote!

web designer santa claritaThe quote was a slick multi-page PDF that hit a lot of emotional hot buttons and played on people’s suspicions and fears. They talked about how each of their web designs was “custom” (more on that in a moment) but they “keep their prices low” because they work in volume. Indeed, they professed to have had 5,000 clients in the past 5 years alone. Yes, I’d say that’s a volume operation… Lol Take a  ticket and wait in line till your number is called, eh?

Of course, the company also involved a pushy sales person to drive the closing tactics. We had already sold our client on the benefits of using WordPress for his particular business because he needed something he could readily customize and grow with, and he needed the interactivity with search engines and social media. Mr. Pushy told our client that their proprietary platform was “just as good” as WordPress. That’s not even true for the reasons I just mentioned. But here’s why it’s REALLY not true —

It’s proprietary. Their contract locks their clients in to a monthly recurring fee ($97 per month!) just to use their CMS (content management system) — in other words, you can’t actually log into your own website if you don’t pay the monthly fee, and that does NOT include webhosting.  Here’s the other gotcha — let’s say you want to change companies and take your site with you. Can’t do that. It’s proprietary, only works on their system. And they charge you for every new page you want to add to your website. And there are charges for any additional features that would be very easy to add (and free) on WordPress.

Now about that ‘custom’ design… they mix & match enough to just barely avoid it being called a “template” but it’s pretty darn close. In fairness, their designs were not the worst (or most template-like) designs we’ve ever seen, but considering they were “custom” there sure were a lot of add-ons for things like feature sliders, content boxes, floating contact forms and so on. Those are all “upgrades.”

The most surprising thing about this quote was their claim that 5,000 business owners (if true) have fallen victim to this and pay every month just to use their own website… ;(

I’m not trying to nitpick a competitor. But business owners need to be astute in analyzing the features of any project quote and then try to find an honest consultant who will give them the straight skinny on what makes sense for their particular business.

I’ve been successful online since 1999 and developed hundreds of websites. Everything we do is with the particular business’ needs in mind — NOT some blanket solution for every business owner who I meet. While the needs of a restaurant owner are different from a roofer, even two roofers in the same town will have very different goals with their website. It’s important to start with the end goal, then look at your market, and arrive at a solution that connects the two.

About John Flynn

John Flynn is a business consultant specializing in optimizing the online presence of local business, with clients throughout the United States and abroad. Utilizing adaptive strategies for each niche, market and business, he is able to consistently exceed the goals of delivering more customers and sales. In addition, John is a product creator, speaker, author, husband and father.

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