If you go on to Google and conduct a search for ‘web designers’ you will find in excess of 22,000,000 results for that search term. Confused? Don’t worry you are not alone. While there are countless reputable web designers, it must be said that there are just as many, if not more, completely incapable people out there offering web design and e-commerce services. So how do you find a good web designer to build your Zen Cart site that you can trust wholeheartedly?
An ever-growing increase in less trustworthy or incompetent web design companies has led to the fear of being ripped off by unscrupulous internet ‘cowboys’ whose main aim is to extract large lumps of cash from their unfortunate clients with little or no regard for the future success of the websites they build and set up.
Many of these fly-by-night, completely unprofessional, web design companies often disappear just at the point when they are needed to give support and backup. This can lead to gross anxiety for many small companies on a tight budget, as they often have to start all over again with yet another unknown internet services company. Is it any wonder then that many people needing an e-commerce website have developed a well-founded fear of being misled, mis-sold or worse?
When choosing a Zen Cart solutions provider you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls before you even look on the web or pick up the phone to talk to somebody. Here are some tips on how to avoid getting caught out when shopping for an e-commerce supplier.
On the whole, avoid choosing someone who is a graphic designer by profession to do a web designer’s job. Unless they are already well-versed in HTML and coding they are likely to build a website that is poorly coded and more or less invisible to the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN, especially if they have a fondness for excessive use of Flash or other graphics.
Another common scenario is that your web designer, who can do wonderful things in Photoshop, produces a great looking webpage template that appears to be everything you could wish for but, unbeknown to you, the designer isn’t a competent enough HTML coder to transform the webpage template into an efficient, and search engine-conscious, marketable code once he exports it to HTML.
In an ideal world web developers and graphic designers should work alongside one another, each complementing the other’s skill. In a large, successful web design company, where there is normally a choice of experienced professionals, you shouldn’t have a problem. However with smaller companies or sole suppliers who often outsource to another one-man professional it is also best to check how long they have worked together and how adept they are at collaborating.
Bear in mind that, in particular, using an e-commerce provider who lacks sufficient skills to complete the project could mean that your Zen Cart store plans are significantly delayed. Also, with the likely possibility of the provider ultimately conceding defeat, you are going to have to find another web design company. This could even mean that the whole project needs re-starting from scratch.
It is not unknown for some website designers to disappear with your money before even doing any work. Smaller web designers will often only take money on completion – once you are completely happy with your site. Others however, will require a deposit before they even start to gather information. This is quite a reasonable request in these difficult times, as many designers have trouble extracting money owed from cash-poor clients. It all comes down to a matter of trust on both sides. If in doubt always follow your gut reaction – no matter what sales patter is wheeled out during that first meeting or telephone conversation.
You must, at all times, feel comfortable with the person who potentially holds your future e-commerce business success in their hands. If you approach someone who is dismissive, fails to answer their phone or sets out to make you feel technically inadequate with the sole purpose of extracting more money – drop them like a hot brick!
Choosing the right e-commerce provider is nearly as important as choosing a spouse. If they are never available, don’t take your views onboard or won’t make minor alterations or price changes quickly the relationship is doomed from the start. Metaphorically speaking you are both going to be ‘getting into bed together’ and any disagreements about layout and style, urgency or run-ins about money are going to inhibit the unique ethos that your company website should convey.
Let’s face it your web designer can hold the whip hand as he or she knows all your passwords. A disgruntled web designer can suspend your site, delete vital information, alter your content and even get you black listed with the search engines. On the other hand a good web designer is always available to help in times of crisis and should make you feel safe, respected and befriended.
When you proffer your assignment, especially if it is a large e-commerce site, be aware that terms and conditions vary greatly across the industry – and contrary to popular belief you don’t always get what you pay for. Make sure that your requirements are made clear right from the start and always find out what payments are due at which stages during the project and upon what terms any staged payment is to be made for your website.
In addition do nail down an agreement for proper online support, after the completion of your Zen Cart web site. Avoid any company that fails to offer online support or comeback if things go wrong during the early stages of the product life-cycle. Make sure you enquire what sort of technical support and web site aftercare is available, and how the product will be checked and signed-off for when it goes live.
Finally a word to the wise, ALWAYS pay your web designer fully and bang on time. Too many talented designers are struggling to survive financially as they are haunted by outstanding payments due from unscrupulous clients. This situation is bad for the industry and inevitably bad for your online business. If your Zen Cart web designer goes under who do you turn to in the future and besides how can you expect someone to give time to your website if you owe them money?