How to Tell if You Have a Bad Web Designer

13If you have a bad plumber, your pipes leak. If you have a bad electrician, your wires spark and your house burns down. But web design has been hidden behind such a lot of unnecessary jargon that it can be difficult to know if you have a bad web designer. Here are a few tips.

1: They will try to sell you as bill of goods before they know your needs

One of the things I enjoy as a web designer is getting to know local businesses, what they do,  how they do it, and what their goals are. Armed with that knowledge, I can present them with a proposal that can help them fulfill those goals. Beware of a design company that’s going to try to sell you a website system before they’ve gotten to know you.

I’ve talked about WordPress before so I won’t belabor that point. But as an example, many firms will try to seduce you with a WordPress site without ever knowing if that’s really what you need! It’s a bit like going to the hardware store and having them try to sell you the 1000 piece tool kit complete with rolling toolbox and sliding glass doors when all you came in for was an adjustable wrench. If someone tries to sell you a website before they’ve even gotten to know you and what you need, steer clear.

2: Bad designers use templates

Sorry, folks, but it’s true. Using templates is bad web design. One of the things I like to do is to try to give each of my customers a unique look. One of the things that turns me off of a business when I’m web surfing is a site that looks like everybody elses. I’ve even seen competing companies using the same template!

Template design is lazy design. Any fool can grab a template off the web, plug in some text and graphics and throw it up on the web. That’s not web designing. And if your “designer” is lazy enough to be doing that, how much lazier are they going to be with the rest of your site?

3: A good web designer will work for you!

Here’s a point that I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of disagreement on, but I think it has to be said. But generally we web designers are a pretty arrogant lot. We may put  a lot of fancy JavaScript or HTML5 geegaws and gimcracks on your site. But 9 times out of 10 we’re not doing it to help your business. We’re simply doing it because we can. And the secret is that a lot of us aren’t really designing to impress you. We’re designing to impress other web designers.

So if you take one thing away from this lesson, let it be this:

As a business, you’re always working for the person one step below you.

As a web designer, we should be working for the business who needs a site to promote their goods and services, not ours. As a business, you need to have a website that gives your customers the information they need, easily found, to take advantage of what you have to offer. It does your customer no good if you have a site that is difficult to navigate and doesn’t present information in an easy to use manner. And it does your business no good if I’ve given you a website that features a lot of useless special effects.

That’s not to say that there’s not a place of JavaScript effect on your site. But the line between being a tool to help your business and a major annoyance to your customers is a fine one indeed.


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