You then experienced delays in your website design and delivery date.
When your website finally went Live, you spotted errors on it. You contact your web designer about the issues and was given some confusing technical reason you didn’t understand. You are new to technology so you accepted the explanation.
After 3 months, you see 0 increases in new sales.
Does this story sound familiar?
If you’re a startup or SME in Singapore, you probably had to go through that.
The Singapore government’s popular PIC scheme has made web design companies and developers pop up everywhere. If you’ve read my previous article, you’d also know this caused problems where it became difficult to tell who’s doing it for the PIC money and who the real professionals are.
The only way to avoid getting caught is to be very alert. Don’t be fooled by client portfolios and things like “Google Partner” certificates. Do your research!
Ask for real numbers. Ask if other clients got increased sales and ask to see proof of it.
My clients often ask me how they can find out if their agency is doing a good job and if it’s worth renewing the contract.
If you’re in the same situation, here’s a simple checklist of 5 things to help you know if you’re working with a real, professional web design agency.
This is the most important thing to be discussed. If your website was built by someone who doesn’t understand your business fully, then my advice to you to start looking for a new partner agency.
To properly design a website that helps your business, it is essential that your web design partner understands your business. In the process of discussion, a top level professional will also be able to help you pinpoint weaknesses in your competitors’ online strategies or market opportunities you can capitalize on.
Remember, true web professionals are not people who simply design and build websites. They’re partners who help your business do well on the internet.
Following up on the first point, web designers must know who your customers are. For example, designing a website targeted at English-educated students is very different from designing a website aimed at Chinese-educated elderly. The style, font types, text size, colours, content-writing style and layouts will be completely different.
Your web design partner should also be able to help you plan how to get people to your website. The cold, hard truth is this: If you just build a website without planning how customers can find you, your business will not grow. Your web design company should help you with this.
One way to ensure a good website is to get your web design agency to guarantee you visitors/sales enquiries and put that down into your contract. This way, the web agency’s goal and your business’ goals become aligned. It protects you from web agencies who just want to make quick money off you and disappear.
A good web design project will require at least 4 roles.
The 1st role is that of a designer. The designer comes up with the graphics, fonts, colours and overall design. This role is well covered, with local agencies often outsourcing to the Philippines or India. All web agencies will have this.
The 2nd role is that of a developer. Using programming knowledge, the developer turns the design into the actual website. For more advanced projects involving databases, a separate systems architect might also be needed. Nonetheless, this is another well-covered area, with low-cost developers from the Philippines, India, Vietnam and China readily available. All web agencies will have this.
The 3rd role is that of a UI/UX specialist. This role ensures that website visitors end up performing critical objectives such as submitting sales enquiries. This role is NOT that of a designer. If your web design agency tells you that your UI/UX specialist is also your web designer, alarm bells should start ringing.
The final role is that of the overall strategic lead. This is the most important role of all and it ensures that your website is aligned to your business objectives. This is a high level, strategic role and should only be handled by very senior management in the company. Make sure you work closely with your project strategic lead. This is your main business partner in this project.
The strategic project lead is in charge of all the other roles and should be the main person you work with. Don’t compromise the quality of your website by working only with lead developers or lead designers. Insist on having a strategic business web project lead.
Mobile-responsive. jQuery. HTML5. Customized-CMS. 99.9% uptime servers. Cloud-based infrastructure.
Does any of the above remind you of your conversation with your web design agency? A strong focus on the latest technology and innovative designs is a very dangerous sign.
Usually, the more technical terms a web designer uses, the less he/she knows about what’s really needed to make a website get you customers. It might indicate that you’re working with designers/developers rather than strategic business leads who know how to correctly translate your business success onto the internet.
Let’s be clear on one thing:
If you experience the above, you should immediately request for a strategic business lead to be assigned to your project. If their agency doesn’t have one, don’t sign the contract.
Most website packages these days include SEO as a deal sweetener. However, it’s important for you not to fall into the trap of paying for something that doesn’t bring you results. Proper SEO in Singapore usually costs $1500 and up every month. It’s unlikely that someone can offer you SEO for free.
A good way to check is to ask your web designer:
If you’re not even going to be on page 1 for popular keywords, then maybe it’s time to ask why exactly they’re including SEO in your web package. Is it only to act as a deal sweetener and to distract you from the more important issues (a website that converts traffic into customers)?