Of all the designers/developers that you will find on the Web, most of them are on the up-and-up and professional; however, there are some tell-tale signs that can indicate that the Web designer or Web firm either doesn’t know the business or are possibly just plain unscrupulous. The following lists some of the prevalent issues clients have dealt with in the past with other designers, and why those issues should never come up:

Pick Your Design/Template

These are designers or content management systems (cms) using templates that show screenshots of different designs for your to choose from. Number one: Do you want a design that other people may also use? I'm sure you’ve seen different sites and wonder why they all seem to look alike. Well, this could be why, and there may be many more sites with that same design floating around the Internet. You want your site to be individual and unique to you and your business—not a facsimile of other sites.

If you must use a content management system or template, make sure it is one that gives you the ability to customize in order to give your site a unique look, and even more importantly, not a unique look that you must agree to put back into the pool for other people to use. Also, make sure that you have the authority to pack up your html, images, scripts and design should you decide to move your site.

Our Prices Are The Lowest/Best/or Some Great Adjective

You have to be careful. Some designers and design firms will lure you in with offers of low prices to get themselves started working on your site, but increase the price at the end with all those little extras they added for you. Then, you are stuck. You either pay the increased price, or you lose your investment.

Make sure you get a contract or proposal that clearly states what is included (number and title of pages, modules, etc.) and whether something that isn’t listed costs extra. The devil is in the details, so make sure all details are covered in writing. If it is not already included, a notation within the contract/proposal stating that no other charges will be included without your written pre-approval can help protect you against these unscrupulous practices. If they don’t immediately agree to update the proposal/contract, you need to look elsewhere.

What Portfolio/Examples?

If a potential designer does not have a portfolio, examples, links, references, education or something to show you their previous work/abilities/knowledge, it would probably be a good idea to move on to another designer. If they don't have something to show of their work, they are either not proud of what they’ve created, you are their first client meaning they are untested, or they have not done the type of work you are looking for them to do.

You Need A Flash Intro Page

No, you don’t need this at all! (A Flash intro page is the same thing as a splash page.) For one thing, you have a very short time in which a site visitor will look over your site to see if they are interested in staying. Why would you neglect what you want your visitors to buy, or know about you, from the second they stop at your site in exchange for flashy graphics and little information? Secondly, why would you use up important content space for something that is not search friendly. And finally, why would you pay to have this splashy and expensive piece created when most visitors will only use the “Skip Intro” or “Enter” links on that page?

That’s a lot of money to insert a link on an unnecessary interference to your content. Take the advice of the “Skip Intro” link, and skip it, as your visitors probably will too.

Top Page Ranks

No, this cannot be guaranteed, no matter what they would like you to believe. Do you think Google® is going to let some designer or seo person just pick their top spot and put a site in there, or maybe only certain seo people/designers know the secret tricks to getting the best page rank? No, it doesn't work that way. Besides, search engines change their algorithms regularly, so a page one rank today could be a page 10 rank tomorrow. The only way to get and maintain a good page rank is by playing by the rules outlined by the major search engines, such as Google®, and consistent work. There is no secret formula, and no one owns that magic wand.

Listed in the Major Search Engines

Okay, some search engines offer submission boxes where you insert a domain name, and some require with that submission an email address to confirm that submission. And, the designer may fill out that form…or include in their fees the payment for search engines that charge. The fact is that you will be picked up by the search engines in time regardless. But no designer can guarantee that the “Top Search Engines” will place your site highly at all without first making sure that your site follows guidelines directed at design structure, relevant inbound links, content and keywords, and other rules of the game…otherwise, you may be listed…but at page 10,849! This is a lot like page rank, except for waiting on the spiders to show up to scan your site and get you indexed. No magic wand here either!

Hosting, and One Size Fits All

Actually, this is not true at all. Look out for those designers that seem to like to make sure all of their clients are hosted with one host—themselves. This practice ensures that they (the designers) are making a profit off of every client's hosting fees above and beyond what they (the designers) are actually paying for the hosting environment, not to mention the price they can charge for your design and domain name (and whatever else they are offering). This usually comes from an affiliation with one particular host and avoids the issues of support or care of the data centers, since the affiliate has no control over the data center and is only a go between for the host’s support department—unless they farm the support out to the host. You should always be dealing with the actual host of your site (those that control the data center) and not a go between or farmed out support.

Also, run away if they do not allow you a control panel to manage your own site, or if they want to make sure everything is in their own name—and not yours. It is critical that you have access to your own property, and you are the legal owner of your own property.

There are a lot of hosting companies out there that are very reputable and place great care for their data centers and quality of support, which is critical to business on the Web. There are also a lot of different packages, and choosing wisely can avoid extra monthly fees. So, it is important that a host be checkout out just as you would check out a Web designer.

In Conclusion

Like anything else, there are rules for the road. Unfortunately, this is not a comprehensive list, but only a few important identifiers that should indicate to you that you are looking in the wrong place for your site design needs. For more information, look over “Hiring A Web Designer”, which offers tips on finding an ethical and qualified Web designer/developer, as well as other indicators of designers not to hire.