Most of us have been on holiday and been offered ‘Calvin Klein’ t-shirts or ‘Louis Vuitton’ hand bags for a few Euros. Well, these really are t-shirts and hand bags, and they have the same colours, and the same logo, so they must be a bargain, right? Why spend hundreds on the originals when you can pick up one of these with your spare change?
I think we can all agree that they do serve a purpose, and they are cheap, but their quality can’t be comparable to the originals. It’s the subtle changes in the stitching, cut and materials which means they won’t perform as well as a genuine product…
So why would cheap websites from abroad be any different?
The simple answer is that they’re not. Just like the t-shirt or handbag, at first glance they may look the same, but once you delve deeper they are usually substandard and quite simply, don’t perform.
I’m sure there are exceptions but, to date, every website that we’ve seen that’s been outsourced to India or the continent has been awful and used technologies that wouldn’t have been acceptable a decade ago. Let me give you a couple of examples.
We were asked to make an online shop (made by a website designer in India) live that was ‘almost finished’, and at first glance it looked pretty good. However, on closer inspection the shop had no database, no way of storing products, no way of storing orders, no shopping cart; effectively it was just a shell, a bit like a car without an engine, or seats, or electronics. The end result; we had to scrap it and start again, it was unusable and our client wasted their money.
Another recent example was a website for a tour operator. This time the website was complete and working, but everything had been done badly and it quite simply didn’t work. We were asked if we could repair it so I showed the back-end code to one of our developers Stu, and he immediately said “Who wrote this? There’s no chance we’re putting this code on our server, it’s a security risk”. Even though it was a modern website it wasn’t mobile friendly (very important in this industry), and written in a way that it couldn’t easily be converted retrospectively. The website designer had tried to optimise it for search engines, but was using techniques that were obsolete years ago.
Some sites that we have looked at that have been made in India or some less affluent European countries have been coded in such a way, that we would have to go out of our way to code something so bad! It’s as if it couldn’t have been done by accident.
So if you stick to a local UK web designer you’ll be OK?
Errrrr, unfortunately not. What if a clothes shop were to sell you a fake Yves Saint Laurent shirt but tell you it’s genuine? You wouldn’t be impressed I assume?!?
Well a lot of web designers do this too, and pocket the difference. That’s why you only ever talk to a salesman and not a developer, that’s why enquiries take so long to answer, and that’s why it can be so frustrating to finally get the changes made that you want.
Our advice would be to ask them directly, and in writing, how many of their developers are based off-shore, and how many are ‘consultants’.
I’m sure our customers are not experiencing any of the above issues, but if you are worried none-the-less, I’ll happily put in writing that all of our developers (in fact all of our team) are UK based and full time employees on PAYE *.
Our advice would be that to be very careful what you buy. Building a website is a completely different task to building an effective website.
Consider the clothes and handbag examples; yes they will work, but they’re nowhere near comparable to an original, and there’s a very good reason why they only cost a fraction of the price.
We are Webbed Feet UK, we make websites that work.
* At the time of writing, February 2016 – although we can’t see this changing.