It is easy to hire someone. You can take a look at their resume, call up a few references and have them come in for a quick interview to determine if they are a good fit for the job you have in mind. Hiring a web company should be something like that. It should be a process where you select from a roster of candidates and choose the best one. But how do you spot the future malingerer, the idiot you know you will not work well with? How do you spot a web design company that just does not do good work?

Their Website is Horrible

Take some time to browse through your potential candidate's website.  This is their number one form of advertising -- a good web design company will invest in their website and make a great effort to make the user experience friendly and easy. Why? Because this is their virtual office and their number one piece of marketing. No self-respecting web design company would confront you with a poorly-made and unattractive website. If you do not like the way their website looks from the get-go or if by browsing through it you already encounter dead links, dead ends and bad code, chances are the web design company will give you similar results.

Bad web design is also a sign of laziness, not simplicity. A great looking website that is simple to use many not have simple programming or code. Period.

No, Bad or Limited Portfolio

Look over their portfolio. A good company should be able to send you a few sample websites of the clients they have worked with. They should feature a few clients on their website to give you, the potential customer, and a good idea of what their design sensibilities are. Great web companies have a healthy and diverse portfolio for different websites and each one should have a unique look or feel.

Incompetent web companies often have a bad portfolio that features only one type of design. In this case we do not mean that they specialize in creating websites for a specific type of customer, but you can already spot a template right off. Look for repetitive design elements where the colour scheme is the only thing that changes. Be wary of companies with no portfolio at all -- even the smallest start up would have at least two or three successful clients who are willing to be featured. Do not believe the excuse that no client wanted to be featured on the site.

Inability to Communicate

You really like the company, so you send them a quick email asking for price quotes or a meeting. Three weeks later, somebody finally gets back to you. The reply is poorly worded and does not offer an apology. Another scenario is that you finally get to meet them, but halfway through the consultation meeting you get the sinking feeling no one is listening to you.

This is a sign of an incompetent company no matter what type of business they are in: an inability to get back to the customer or communicate properly with them. This is a bad sign, especially for the type of business that relies on clients.


Take a quick look at their prices. Are they competitively priced? Super cheap? Super expensive? Do they offer different pricing packages? Remember, you get what you pay for. Companies that offer everything super cheap may not be competitively priced because they are giving your website design to some poor underpaid freelance developer in South Asia -- or because they will give you terrible results. Are they knocking all of the other web companies out of the bracket because they are extremely expensive? A good web company will not just have one type of price line, but several to attract a diverse client set.

For many website companies, it is all about the presentation. To protect yourself, make sure you always look deeper into their company. Ask for testimonials, a portfolio or even a sample. Make sure you always ask questions and demand answers, especially when you are shelling out tons of money for quality work. Finally, make sure your contract has a refund or out-clause, just in case you end up hiring a fraud.

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