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Webbed Feet UK, web developers in Salisbury, Wiltshire

Getting away from a cowboy web designer

Recently we've picked up a lot of website maintenance contracts varying from fixing broken or incomplete websites, to making existing ones more effective, to refreshing a design, to offering on-going support and consulting.

Around half of these are because website trends evolve and websites become out of date and need a refresh. Examples recently would be making adjustments to a website's look or feel, making it compatible with mobile phones, or improving its search engine optimisation (SEO) so more visitors go there. These are great projects, because we often start with a happy client who wants to migrate to us as they've outgrown their current web developers and want to take things to the next level.

However, we're picking up an increasing amount of projects from initially unhappy customers who've had a bad experience with their website designer. There are unfortunately a lot of cowboys in this industry as anyone can call themselves a "web agency" with no experience, knowledge or specialist skills.

Just as cowboy builders can cause long term damage to someone's property, some website designers do the same as people trust them with potentially one of largest investments they may purchase for their business, their website. Cowboy web designers are not usually intentionally bad (although these do exist), just inexperienced and 'wet behind the ears' meaning that they miss off key components and produced an end website that, quite simply, won't work.

We lost a contract recently because we were undercut to the region of just 25%. We stood firm as we offered a fair price and we do not believe in cutting prices as we don't want the end result to suffer. A few months later the client returned asking for feedback on his new website... it was a complete disaster and, despite looking nice on the surface, it took 30-60 seconds to load each page, didn't have any search engine optimisation (that was supposed to be included), didn't have any way of navigating pages on many screen sizes (as the buttons disappeared) and had a contact form that didn't work. In short the client had saved 25%, but because of this has a website that can't be found, struggles to load pages, is not navigable, and if a customer managed to get over these hurdles, they couldn't get in touch anyway.

We have strict QA (quality assurance) procedures and not only would this website have failed them badly, but our web designers wouldn't even consider submitting a website of that quality to the project manager for approval, let alone to the client.

Another example, we had a website that a client wanted to host on our server, I was speaking to one of our developers Stu who, immediately after seeing the underlying code, said "there's no way we're putting that on our server, it's a security risk and I could hack it in 30 seconds".

We believe in doing things once, and doing things properly. If the budget doesn't cover the specification we'd rather produce something with less functionality that remains effective, than reduce the overall quality.

As with most industries, there are lots of cowboys out there who undercut the professionals and produce substandard work. The issue is that web designers, as an industry, are not regulated and you, as a customer, don't always know how to tell the good from the bad.

Many people feel tied in to their web designers because they have a custom platform or special requirements, but this is seldom the case. Yes many web agencies won't touch other people's code unless it's made on a specific platform, but there are web developers out there that will do these projects, and we're one of them.

In fact, we'd like to make it clear that we love them. Why? Because we love building relationships with clients who've had a sour taste left in their mouths, and restoring their faith in our industry. From a selfish perspective, it's good for us if our clients succeed, because if their business grows their website will grow with them, and in turn that's good for us.

It doesn't matter if you have a small website and a low budget and just need a few tweaks to make it more effective, or if you have a very large and complicated bespoke build that no one else will touch, the chances are we can help. We can take over half built projects, or even act as consultants offering professional advice on your behalf so that you can make demands to your current web or SEO agency knowing that you have the full facts on your side.

We have a team of staff, each an expert in their own area, as well as decades of combined experience, meaning that we can give our clients a full service covering all aspects of their build from SEO and marketing, to design and UX (user experience), to security and functionality.

So if you think you're tied in to a cowboy, if you've out grown your current web developers, or if they've just disappeared or become unresponsive, please do not hesitate in getting in touch.

We are Webbed Feet UK, we love restoring faith within the web design industry.

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