If a job’s worth doing…

Dodgy dealer.My late father left many legacies. Some good, some not so but one thing he taught myself and my siblings was that if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. Perfection was to be strived for. This blog post is about that subject and how many seem to not bother.

By 13 I could not only fix a puncture I could service my bike, by 14 decorate my room and I could fix a car before I could legally drive. All under the careful hovering supervision of my dad. It stuck, of course it would do. I applied to everything I did in my working life.

Doing a job well seems not only a no brainer to me but essential for providing 1st class service to everything and everyone. If you sell fruit then you sell fantastic fruit, not rotten. If you develop websites then you develop excellent websites. So why do so many see it as hard work, not required or not on the agenda?

In the main world I move in, that is the creative world and specifically web design you can get a website for any budget. From £50 to £5000 or more for the same brochure / marketing site with no real bells and whistles. Generally speaking you get what you pay for. You’re paying for expertise, experience, past results etc.

But what happens when you pay £5000 and get a £50 result? Where did it all go horribly wrong?

Well the thing is it goes ‘horribly wrong’ every day. The industry is full of snake oil salesmen and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Peddling their wares with spiel that could make an Eskimo part with hard cash for hard water.

The job isn’t done well. In fact it’s terrible. It’s a lame horse, too lame for pasture even – it needs shooting.

The earth is promised and not delivered. Folk are blinded with science. They are told everyone else is wrong and that they can rely on and trust them to deliver a website that will see incredible results and the £ signs get in the way of reason. The job isn’t done well. In fact it’s terrible. It’s a lame horse, too lame for pasture even – it needs shooting.

These purveyors of lame horses continue. Continue to take hard earned money, reinvested profits, entrusted savings even. Continue to fill the internet with junk. Continue to over promise and under deliver. Striking like a serial killer they continue to strangle the economic viability of so many great ideas that could be.

And what happens when they get found out?

They all will do eventually but the answer is nothing. They slip away to the dark slimy hole from whence they came leaving the wake of unknown carnage behind them. The string of car crash design disasters with less than poor user experience are left with the respective frustrated and disillusioned owners.

Who takes the hit? We do. The good guys, the creative industry takes the hit. We’re left to pick through pieces of theses disasters. The owners who mostly through no fault of their own have been led down a garden path and left with a website that goes out of date quicker than yesterday’s news and is no use to anyone.

It’s painful at times, I really feel for some of these people, especially charities who rely on their marketing to get donations and survive.

So what can be done?

Every industry has its cowboys I guess but at least most have some sort of regulatory body to do something about it. There’s nothing like that here. I wouldn’t be seen to directly rubbish a competitor even if it were justified, why lower myself to that level?

So what can be done? Is it simply idealistic to rid the world of bad jobs, bad business people & bad service? Should we name and shame? And if so who regulates the namers? Is it ok for some not to do a job well and not want to do it any other way?

Ideas (and comments) on a postcard please or below will do just fine.


I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

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  1. I can’t tell you how much I agree with you on this. as I am also in the web industry.

    It would appear everyone in the world can build a website and frequently do!! Yes you can “get what you pay for” particularly at the cheaper end of the market but I like you get most angry at those people who have spent huge amounts of money and have got complete rubbish.

    We are currently working with a new client who has spent over £30k on a site in which the code is completely and utterly broken!

    She is just by herself in business, and put her faith and trust in this company and they have very nearly ruined her and I do not just mean financially.

    Unfortunately there is no “standard” anyone can set themselves up as a “Web Designer” it is time the really professional companys fought back to rid our industry of these “snake oil salespeople”

    • Thanks for commenting Caroline. I hear these type of stories most weeks, we ourselves have picked up pieces from bad projects, similar to yourself.

      What do you suggest regarding the fighting back?

  2. Yes, yes & yes! Go to ANY networking event are there are SEO experts, Website designers, etc, crawling out from under every table and from behind the woodwork! How do I know who to pick? They all tell me they are the best. They all quote stuff in a language I don’t understand. None of them get my business because I just can’t afford to pay out four figure sums on something that isn’t even real!

    I know! I can hear the answers already and I do always try to use recommendation. (But every site HAS to be different, a good website for A is perhaps no use to B.) I hear myself say, “You can’t afford to get a professional site, but can you afford NOT to?” I keep telling myself that I have a website, but I know that it isn’t working.

    Biting the bullet is all well & good if you have a money-printing machine, but I haven’t. I have stood up in a networking event and said that if ANY SEO expert or website designer was willing to work with me, on commission, I would be happy to talk to them, do you know what, not one person came up to me afterwards.

    That offer is still on the table.

    • I think the problem with commission or revenue sharing is that the one taking the risk is the web designer and they have no control over how you run your business or market it beyond the website. It’s all one sided.

      Thanks for all your comments and joining in Glyn.

      • Yes, hadn’t looked at like that. As I said, I love to learn and I’m learning. :)

      • I’m totally with you here Gary – I’ve been offered that in the past but have turned it down as, as you point out, I have no control over how that person runs the business or the quality or demand for their product or service.

        I can market a brand as brilliant and create an amazing website but if the product or service doesn’t live up to the marketing, then there’s not an awful lot that I can do!

  3. I had the discussion about regulation the other week, it came down to nailing jelly to a wall. The best programmer in the world (assuming you can quantify programming skill) could produce a website that didn’t convert leads/sales/whatever, same for designers, marketeers and so on. Even if they have a certificate that says then can.

    So rather than regulating the industry, I think the best thing to do is educate clients and prospects. Help then understand what questions should be ask, tell them about the common types of snake oil on sale on most important, tell them to ask for recommendations, check portfolios and if applicable, references.

    @Glynn, unless your site is ecommerce, how would you monitor ROI to pay a fair commission? It sounds like a bad deal for the supplier.

    • I am under the impression that site traffic can be monitored so it should be totally feasible to see which orders are coming from the search-engines, which are coming direct through other links, etc and which are not. That way, if my site is getting ten hits a day and, suddenly after Joe Bloggs does his magic, I start getting twelve thousand hits, it is obvious that he has done his job well.

      I’m not trying to get stuff on the cheap because cheap is often worthless, I am trying to sort out the chaff and get value for my hard-earned money.

      It is interesting that you ask about monitoring my return on investment. That is the reason given by all SEO, Website designers etc for me to have them do my website. If you suggest that it is a bad investment for the supplier because I can’t monitor the return on investment, how are the suppliers able to argue that it is a good investment for me? They can’t have it both ways.

      • “I am under the impression that site traffic can be monitored so it should be totally feasible to see which orders are coming from the search-engines, which are coming direct through other links, etc and which are not.”

        Totally correct

        “after Joe Bloggs does his magic, I start getting twelve thousand hits, it is obvious that he has done his job well.”

        Is this the only way you’d assume he’d done a good job? How about at 13,000 hits per day your site crumbles under the load. Or your database gets hacked due to poor programming. etc. There is far more to a ‘good job’ than just how many hits your site gets. Ultimately, for the business it’s about converting those hits to customers.

        ” I am trying to sort out the chaff and get value for my hard-earned money”

        Developers also work hard for their money. And as such may not be cheap. The good ones have years of experience and as such charge appropriately.

        “That is the reason given by all SEO, Website designers etc for me to have them do my website.”

        Marketing blurb to get the job. Sorry, but I’m always weary of SEO experts. This blog post is a good example of why we should stop seeing SEO as a dedicated service: http://www.mmkmedia.co.uk/articles/stop-doing-seo/

        Monitoring a return on investment is crucial. But it comes down to more than just ‘hits’ and being the top of a Google search.

        • There was the story of the graphic designer who designed a logo in 5 minutes and charged £1000′s of pounds. The client said “I’m not paying that it took you 5 minutes” the GD replied, ‘Ah but it took 25 years of practice.” Or something like that.

          Thanks for your input Lee & Colin.

  4. The problem is how do you validate ‘quality’ within web development? To the client, if it looks like a cat, makes a noise like a cat… well, you get the picture.

    Only to other developers looking at the underlying code know if it’s been done well. At Nomad, when we quote for a job, we quote for doing a top end piece of work, not a cheap, hackish implementation of a brief. Sometimes this produces quotes that may be more than a clients expectations – however, we fully stand by the fact that “you get what you pay for”.

    In response to the comment above:

    “None of them get my business because I just can’t afford to pay out four figure sums on something that isn’t even real!”

    A site is very real, it’s no less real than having a physical shop and a man at the counter waiting to take your money. This is the wrong mindset to adopt. At any one point there are millions of potential customers out there – your site provides a gateway to your business.

    This attitude normally leads to businesses getting ‘cheap’ sites made, because they see it as something they ‘should’ have, but provides no real asset to their company. I can’t say how wrong this is. There has been numerous times I’ve been looking for a service – I have a look on google, visit their site, and all I’m greeted with is a cheap site, no real contact – just an email address and a shoddy strapline.

    This is my first experience with your company. What kind of message do you think that sends out?

    Sadly for companies the struggle comes in finding someone to produce them a quality site. And there-in lyes the problem. It’s a minefield out there, full of cowboys, script kiddies and bedroom developers. I feel sorry for anyone trying to distinguish the good from the bad here.

    However, I feel it’s down to the company to properly research who they choose. Speak to other people this person/company has produced work for. Ask them what their experience was like? Would they use them again?

    Don’t pick someone just because they’re cheap.

    • Wow Lee, you really are fighting your corner.

      If I buy a website from Jack Smith who I met in the pub, he puts up a site and I pay him. The next day, Jack disappears and I find my site has gone from the WWW. The WWW is virtual isn’t it? Virtual means “not real” doesn’t it?

      Have a look at my site and tell me if you think it is cheap. I know it is cheap because I did it all myself, but it has the content I want. You couldn’t write the content for me because I am selling me, not a pair of shoes. That is why I say that a website for one customer may be of no use to me. What I need to know is what I need to ask of the experts to get the site I need.

      I’m glad that you can empathise with me, as I am a total numpty when it comes to computers & stuff, but please don’t tell me that I have the wrong mindset, it is the mindset that I have and you need to convince me to change it, not tell me to.



      All constructive criticisms welcome.

      • “Please don’t tell me that I have the wrong mindset, it is the mindset that I have and you need to convince me to change it, not tell me to.”

        This is just my opinion Glynn. I have no intention of telling you how to think. Sorry if it gave that impression.

        • No problem Lee, I’d like to be convinced to change it though.

          It is never too late to learn.


  5. I always try to do the best job that I can and when quoting against a brief, strive to give an honest representation of how long that good job will take. Time is money and that is the bottom line. The client will always look at the cost and try to reduce it. It is takes 5 days to produce what is required, it will take 5 days. If it takes 10, well, that doesn’t mean 8 so some budget can be saved.

    I always provide a breakdown of where the costs lie, but that isn’t always taken into consideration and the appreciation of how long things take isn’t always there. I was joking the other day – “the web is easy, even kids can do websites”, and unfortunately, that is still the majority view

    When I have under estimated a particular task, I’ll take the hit on the time (and therefore cost), to ensure I deliver what I said I would. When the client wants to reduce the cost of the project, that means features have to go. It doesn’t mean they stay but they are just produced more quickly, as that will lead to corners being cut, and failing to meet the client’s expectations – which, by the way, should have been set by the supplier.

    Totally agree with Lee, a website is a real asset, not just something that sits in the ether and doesn’t really exist.

    This has turned into a defence of project costs, but then, yes – you get what you pay for.

    • By the way – I’ve got nothing against kids doing websites – start early, that’s what I say!

    • Thanks for your comments Jason. I have a similar view. No cutting corners so save time & money. I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever ha d client tell me to do something quicker in order to save money but there’s always a first time for everything.

      I’m guessing many of the devs/designers commenting on here, like us, have filters in place to try and remove such folk from sales chain.

      • Well, doing the work quicker is kind of implicit in wanting to reduce the cost of the build but not drop any features.

        That means either: reduce the cost of your time – which, of course, you may agree to do, try and fit all the current features into the build – meaning do them quicker, or drop features.

        Then, of course, don’t get me started on feature creep. Once costs have been agreed and features had been cut but suddenly appear on the horizon again once the build has started, but that is a different topic…

  6. Web designers, consultants, coaches, social media experts, couriers, accountants, bank managers, hairdressers …. there are good and bad everywhere.
    Regulation isn’t an option and price isn’t a good guide – the worst haircut I’ve ever had was the most expensive.
    All any of can do is build a solid reputation. Success isn’t a flash in the pan or a one off event, its consistently delivering what our clients pay for and making sure that potential clients understand that. Our testimonials should be the most important thing in our armoury against the snake-oil merchants. They are never going to go away while there’s a fast buck to be made so we need to make their job more difficult by educating prospective clients.

    Glynn, if you have no money for SEO the next best thing is to use SEO opportunities elsewhere. Everything you do on-line is important. A blog like this would work wonders (the one on your website could probably be improved). Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (do you have a business page?) are all useful but there are no social media links on your website.
    You could be using Google Plus and YouTube to show short videos of your tours. Investigate QR codes and partner some of your destination hosts in using location based incentives on something like FourSquare (Gary, pick yourself up off the floor – I know it has its uses!)
    In short, don’t expect other people to take a risk on your business when there is so much more you could be doing yourself.

    • Totally agree that reputation is key. I don’t go touting for work from people I don’t know and don’t attend networking events. All of my work has been/is through recommendation and already existing contacts.

      ok, there may come a day when that source of work dries up, and it would be time to make new contacts, but in the meantime the work that I have done through recommendation should stand me in good stead.

      Not saying that I’ve got a great reputation, as that isn’t something for me to judge. I can only stand by the work that I produce.

    • Thank you, thank you Ann!

      Yes, I have a twitter account and I use it a lot, I have a facebook page and I don’t use it much. I have a ipatter account and use that a lot too, making use of the SEO on that to take customers to the website. I also have a presence on an online series of magazines & an online radio show in the USA. I have added a couple of films on youtube but that is only last week! I am on LinkedIn but I am finding that to be full of spam & phishing stuff!

      My blog needs work, but I use it like a chat, perhaps I need an interactive one like this?

      You lost me with QR codes!

      I know I have a lot to learn. I have only been in business just over a year and I have not got money to throw at a website, but that is why I joined in on this debate. How does a total numpty like me get a good website provider without taking out a mortgage? Yes, I know everyone says “shop around and use recommendation” but when I go to buy a pair of shoes I know what I’m looking for, I don’t look at trousers, with websites I am lost as soon as the “expert” opens his/her mouth and, as I said before, what works for A doesn’t always work for B.

      OK, I need to bite the bullet! I’m about to jump, please get the net ready to catch me!

      • “…with websites I am lost as soon as the “expert” opens his/her mouth…”

        To quote Mr Einstein “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

        If you don’t understand something, always ask. If they can’t explain it you in plain english then you’re right to be suspicious.

  7. Oh Gary if only I had read this before disaster hit me and my business it would of saved me an awful lot of heartache. I won’t run on here it’s all in my blog if anyone would like to read it but I hired a couple of cowboys although I didn’t know it at the time and it has cost me dear :(


    • Thanks for replying Sharon. Very sorry to read about your disaster and that is a perfect example of what I’m talking about here. I hope things are lookign up now and wish you every success with the business.

  8. Loving the discussion as some great points are being made.

    Yes customer should do loads of research as who you partner with for your website is a big commitment. We list over 200 of our latest clients web sites in our portfolio and really push prospective clients to pick up the phone and call anyone of them for a referral. Amazes me how many don’t though.

    In order to give potential clients confidence in our company we have taken the decision that even though each website is a total custom designed solution we offer fixed prices which we publish on our own site.

    I think from perspective clients point of view as well the whole pricing variation is a massive issue, How much should they pay for a good professional website?

  9. A really interesting article once again, Gary.

    This is obviously a massive problem as so many people have been affected by poor service and shoddy websites, and I suppose the issue is that you don’t know what you’re going to get from your web agency/freelancer, until it’s delivered (in most cases).

    Lee P raises a good point which strangely I both agree and disagree with:

    “I feel it’s down to the company to properly research who they choose. Speak to other people this person/company has produced work for. Ask them what their experience was like? Would they use them again?”

    I agree that to a certain degree, if you don’t research a business before paying them to build you a website, you’re asking for trouble. You should ALWAYS do your homework.

    However, what if the people they work with are naive and don’t know any better? If their previous clients have no idea about usability, accessibility, good quality code, and wouldn’t know good design if it hit them round the head with a cricket bat, how can you expect them to give you a good testimonial?

    I’m not going to name names of course but there are plenty of businesses that prey on the naivety of others to become locally renowned and well recommended, even when the work they are producing is, in a word, crap. They might have a good reputation with local businesses, but industry professionals in the area know that they are actually ripping people off left and right.

    And Glynn is completely right when he says that, as a novice, he doesn’t know what to look for in an agency/freelancer when he needs a website. The first person he calls will likely give him the sales patter, with the ‘you shouldn’t work with others’ and ‘we’re better than the rest’ and sound very convincing.

    I feel proud to work in a business where we do things for morality and ethics above all else, which comes back to Gary’s point. When we do jobs, we do them because we want to. We feel our client’s passion, want to help in any way we can, and as a result, we do good work.

    And if our visions don’t match (or we don’t think our service is right) then we’ll say so. We’ve turned down work, and even split with a client who asked us to do something unethical.

    It’s a shame that some people wouldn’t do the same, but I think it’s the same with any industry (and just illustrates that web work has become commoditised like any other industry).

    Also Glynn, just a small point: I don’t understand what you mean when you say the WWW is ‘virtual’. There is real code being built by people and placed on real servers. ‘Virtual’ suggests that it’s not real! The point is that a good website utilises a person’s experience building code and design in a configuration that will sell your product in an optimised manner – much like a shop front. But you’d pay for someone to organise your shop front, wouldn’t you?

    • Thanks for the points Tom.

      The WWW is virtual isn’t it? It isn’t real.

      If Jack Smith does my website and hosts it for me, he then goes bust or runs off with my money, my website has gone hasn’t it? I have to trust him completely to not pull out the plug even after I own it. I buy something but I don’t actually own it.

      As I said earlier, I love to learn.

      I like the shop-front analogy.

      • Our website is real. You can visit it, because you connect to a server and it delivers code to your browser. This is real data.

        If you paid Jack Smith to paint a mural on his wall, and the wall gets knocked down, was the painting real? What’s the difference between that and a website being taken offline?

        If you buy a website and you’re worried about ownership, here’s your alternative: host it yourself! It’s simple, costs a very small amount, and nobody leaves you in the lurch if they go under.

        Get him to paint a mural on YOUR wall.

        • Ah, you see what I mean? I didn’t know that I could host my own page. I thought someone else had to, an expert.

          I love learning. It is never too late to learn, but now I need you lot to tell me what I need, what you can do for me and how much it will cost.

          I think I’m looking for a pair of shoes but I may actually need to buy a coat and not only do I really need a coat, but I need a water-proof one!


  10. “You should ALWAYS do your homework.”

    Cheers Tom – I think that’s what I was trying to get across… :)

  11. OK. Open invitation to those on here, all who seem to be sensible, straight-talking honest website techy people!

    Have a look at my website, (it is hosted with GBBO at the moment), drop me an email telling me (in words, not gobbledegook), what you suggest I do with it. (Now, now, be nice!) Show me some of your work and provide me with testimonials or contacts. Then, tell me how much it will cost to put right.

    I own all the pictures and text as I did it all myself. (Yes, I know, you thought that it was put together by a chimp!)

    I look forward to your ideas.



  12. I think before people put work into making suggestions for your website Glynn it is only fair of you to say what budget your are constrained by.
    I’m not in this business but I can tell there are several folk on here who would probably not pitch for work that didn’t have a budget they could work within.
    By the way, if you want a group on LinkedIn that has absolutely NO sales spam and really, really interesting and useful discussions (not just blog links) try The Inspired Group. Our Gary has contributed a lot to it.

    [edited by Gary] Here’s the link: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Inspired-Group-3143015

  13. My budget is constrained by my wife!

    No, honestly, I have no idea how much I need to spend to bring my website up to scratch. I don’t want to say that I have £2,000 to spend because I may get to spend £1,876 on a re-wire when all I actually needed to spend was 6d for a new fuse. You see how innocent I am in all this and why I am scared to death of making that leap of faith in someone else.

    My website is my baby and I don’t want all it altered so I get lost in it, I also don’t want bells & whistles, I just want it to bring me some work.

    So, to answer your question, my budget is negotiable, but I need it to earn money to pay for itself. At the moment it is costing my very little but it is bringing me very little.

    • Glyn. Focus on your business objectives and then hire a firm to get you there. You will need to be realistic in your budget. A decent agency will tell you how to spend your budget not build a website up to the cost of that budget just because you have that much to spend.

      I think Ann’s earlier comment regarding the use of video needs greater exploration by you. You are selling an experience and video will allow potential customers to see what that experience might entail. They can buy into it much easier than text on a website.

  14. Interesting article. I normally work on the “less is more” principal for brochure sites. I keep things real, do not charge fortunes and normally advise a client to spend less on web design and development and more on getting people to the site.

    For an e-commerce site, then the model is different, obviously. Every client is unique and every website the same, with every marketing package tailored to client expectations and the market in which the sites sits.

    Never assume anything. Try all aspects of online marketing once. if one aspect does not work, then bin it. Try to keep within budget.

    Use independent methods to validate a supplier:

    http://www.validator.w3.org will ensure that the site is cleanly coded, and therefore has no issues in this area.

    Have a legal contract drawn up between the two parties outlining the scope of the project – whether for web or SEO. Get measurables within the contract including timescales,way-points,reporting etc.

    Ensure your SEO partner is focused on delivering results, can prove success, and talk to their clients about their return on investment.

    If your SEO is not on page 1 for actual valuable terms, it is more than likely that they are not going to get you there for yours, and will fob you off with terms which are not going to produce a result. We see this time and time again.

    For SEO, hosting is now an ever growing factor and the speed of server is getting more and more prevalent in Google mathematics. Cheap home made hosting is not going to be any good if you are expecting mass traffic.

    Expect to pay far less for the term – web design norwich – to be on page 1, than the term web design company. Local optimisation should take no longer than 6 months to achieve.

    Make sure that your client understands that it is actually their client who needs to love the site, not necessarily them.

    Networking for referrals to web designers in our region is not necessarily a great thing either. Huge amounts of talented designers who cannot translate to web, or who do not have the development skills to ensure success. Think about casting your net beyond your networking circles. There is always an element of wanting to deal with a local supplier (to be commended), but don’t feel obliged to do so, and don’t believe that this is going to be a massive advantage. After all, the web is universal and you can create work and put it live online for clients all over the globe, from your desk wherever you are. If your designer is flexible he/she will make changes to your concepts for free until such point as they actually go to code.

    Hope that helps.

  15. Assessing value for money / job well done in the web development industry is even harder than in the design industry. Least in the design industry most/some can see and assess quality of work / portfolio etc.

    But this all goes out the window when those that don’t have any idea about code, good web practices, SEO etc try to assess value for money and expertise.

    I’m not sure this problem of cowboys ripping off people who have no idea what they are paying will ever change, unfortunately.

  16. I think you are right Gareth, unfortunately. But I do not subscribe to the brigade which say “you pay your money you take your chance” either. I think that it is all about results and testimonials. Our SEO Services have been proven to work and are pretty much unparalleled with the legal contracts we have with our clients. Everyone involved in SEO here would be very upset if we had to work for nothing because a client didn’t reach page 1 Google!

  17. I have been thinking about this website business for some time now and have come to the conclusion that the different skills required to produce a successful website are almost impossible to find in just one individual.

    you have;

    graphic design
    Software design
    Project management
    Network management
    Sales and Marketing
    Content writing
    Publishing and typesetting
    IT and computer science
    Magazine / newspaper publishing
    Editor and Proof reader.

    When I see a crap website it always reminds me of all those newsletters produced by companies using cheap publishing software.
    Just cause you have the software does not mean you can do the job.
    Newspaper and magazine editors / publishers take years to learn their trade.

  18. I totally agree a regulatory body sounds like a wonderful idea, but all a little bit too late for us. As a business we have been let down time and time again by web ‘people’ and I use the term loosely. If you can’t do what you are promising or are planning to dissapear from the face of the earth at least let your clients who have entrusted you with something pretty integral to their business know about it.
    I know very little about ‘web stuff’ and I’m sick to death of being blinded by science. I know enough to know when I am (thank goodness)and only because I’ve had to!
    Don’t even get me started on SEO, Google and PPC advertising. I might self combust!

    • I completely agree Emma although for Companies like myself when we are told we are “Too expensive” and the work has been given to someone who works out of their back bedroom it is frustrating. One of the reasons we are more expensive is because we have offices, staff etc which all need paying for but equally gives our clients full accountability. There is ALWAYS a least a couple of experienced designers & software engineers in our office our clients can call anytime.

      Again I always stress to potential clients get referrals, ask to see their portfolio and then randomly call some for a reference.

    • I am sorry to hear you say this Emma. But, as previously stated, this does not seem to be uncommon. You might like to get some FREE advice from our LinkedIn groups entitled “for the bewildered”. These cover SEO, Social Media and Web Design and are FREE. There is only fact based information on them, not hearsay.

      • Sorry Chris – until it can be proved otherwise SEO will always be a black art. This is likely to be when Search Engines and black and white with how the algorithms, crawlers and spiders work.
        My Comment wasn’t about SEO anyway. Purely about Web designers promising things like accountability and then not delivering.

        • If Search Engines were transparent about how they worked, they would be exploited even more viciously than they are at present.

          Online marketing, of which SEO is a part, is completely viable but the core of it is to have a good website with good content. Whether you then market it by link building, social media, email marketing, online advertising, offline advertising or whatever should then be a judgement call based on your target audience.

          But regarding accountability, we always produce a specification to say what will and will not be produced and spend time going through it to make sure the client understands it and doesn’t just sign it off blind. We are always happy for clients to have copies of their finished files, even if we packed up tomorrow I would still make sure everyone received copies of their work, out of a sense of personal pride and responsibility.

          It’s like anything, there’s good and there’s bad.

          • In the profession, and in the main, we DO know how search engines work Colin?
            It is ridiculous (with respect) to suggest that the core is the website. It is a part, but we have seen many examples over the years of “mediocre” websites, which still have conversion and traffic to them. It is not our job, or indeed professional to criticise anyone’s web design, until it is proven that this work causes problems with search engines, accessibility, usability, or a combination of these. The simple facts are that if you are not on page 1 for a valuable search term, then you’re nowhere.
            I agree that there are good and bad.

        • SEO and SEO Services are only made a black art by those who wish to fluster and flabbergast. If you follow tried and tested (ethical) methods, you cannot fail – as we have proven over the years.
          I agree totally about your comment on web designers, which is why you should have a legal contract. Don’t you agree?

          • Anonymous

            For someone who supposedly knows everything about ‘ethical’ SEO, your attempts to parasitically gain backlinks (which are set as nofollow you will notice) via blogspam are pitiful.

            Get a clue Chris.

          • It is a shame you have not got the balls to put your name where your comment is, but you seem to be under some misapprehension so I will clarify.

            1. I have NEVER said i know everything about SEO – anywhere!
            2. Other people appear to do that for me :
            3. Link building and blog commenting go hand in hand.

            If you want to have a debate on this either face to face or on here, then I suggest you “man up” and put your real name to your spineless comments.

          • Chris,

            I appreciate the past comment is of annoyance to you and thanks for responding although please do keep an eye on the tone. I have to say I too am somewhat confused as to why you’re posting anchor text back links to your blog that are no follow. You even kindly recomended some Linked in forums in a past comment but rather than link to them you instead linked to your own site ?

            Perhpas for the benefit of myself and the rest of the commenters here you could explain why, perhaps we’re missing a trick?

  19. Sorry to hear of your problems Emma, but, it is a story I hear time and time again. This is such a shame because a well applied marketing plan incorporating a usable website optimised for conversion working in concert with SEO, a properly constructed PPC campaign, opt in email campaign and good use of Social media is an enormously powerful marketing system.

    SEO in particular seems to be well trodden by snake oil salesman – years ago I was a victim of this myself so I made it my business to educate myself about SEO before investing anymore in it. You could do a lot worse than to start with the excellent Beginners Guide to SEO by the hugely respected Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz.

    If anyone is trying to tell you they can guarantee you page one on google for 10 terms – be sure and specify which terms- it’s probably not that hard to rank for “red and yellow men’s black trousers” (Yes I have come across “SEO” firms using this tactic). Also please ignore people who think SEO is all to do with title tags and filling your copy with keywords – they’re living in 1996.

    As far as web designers there is no substitute for research, speak to former customers, look at the work and see if they have testimonials on their site. Be realistic about what you can get for your money – you can get a good site for around £1000 for example, but, only if you accept it will be built on a solid platform such as WordPress – you are not going to get a bespoke web application built from scratch for this sort of figure.

    Finally I would run a mile from any designer/developer who insisted on taking control of your domain – the only reason they ever want to do this is to get you over a barrel when things go wrong. To a lesser extent this is true of hosting too – nothing wrong with using your developer’s hosting if they offer it, but, they should be just as happy to use 3rd party hosting provided it meets their specification (and if you ignore their specification you only have yourself to blame – good hosting doesn’t come for £1 a month!).

    There are lots of really good web designers, web developers, SEO companies and PPC consultants out there who are worth every penny they charge.

    Great post Gary, just a shame you had to write it.

  20. Hi Gary
    No real issue here. Did not even check whether links were dofollow or nofollow. Simply saw Glynn’s web link and thought I would put links in on my terms. I have to say that the link to the site instead of the LinkedIn group was a genuine cut and paste Freudian slip and I am happy for you to correct this, as you are in my group on LinkedIn – if you wish. The links were meant as terms of reference for others here.
    I apologise for the “tone” of the response to Anonymous. I do not wish to break blog rules, and/or cause offence. But you are right, it did upset me a bit.

  21. Interesting comments as always.

    Chris, Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz wrote a great article on blog commenting that you should read, to help fit in with the culture and style when commenting. Note also that he mentions that links in blog comments have negligible impact on rankings.


  22. Tom:
    Unfortunately, this comment is subjective for one, and for another the algorithmic changes made in the past few weeks have changed significance of linking, type of links and worthiness too. I am sure that Rand believed what he said at the time. I certainly would not decry his comments and respect that he thought what he was posting was true at the time of the post.

  23. Somehow this excellent post has been turned into a discussion about SEO services. So I shall try to put it back on track.

    When I worked on the corporate side of things, it always amazed me that people were happy to turn up 9-5 and take their salary. Where’s the fun in that? Work hard, enjoy your job, and go home with a smile on your face. Do the best job you can.

    I’ve come across a whole range of agencies in my time and also freelancers, and sadly the same is true. There are a lot of people who are happy to take money, do something, and then wander off with a cheery smile. The problem with the digital industry (and especially social) is that people are so confused about this specific area, that it is easy to do this.

    This also makes it difficult for the average punter to work out who is good and who isn’t. Can you imagine this meeting:

    Potential Client: That all sounds great!
    Agency/Freelancer: Excellent, I’ll get started straight away.
    Potential Client: One last thing. Are you going to rip me off?
    Agency/Freelancer: Yes I am.

    Of course nobody is going to say that, making it almost impossible to make the right decision. Which, I guess is why personal recommendations still score highly.

    Many of us aim to do the best job possible. We’ve run projects where we’re up half the night and the weekend to build something super cool, rather than just slapping up a templated site with some mediocre colouring and taking a cheque/BACs payment into the sunsite.

    I’ve gone on too long. Great post Gary. You keep it real.

    • Great comment, I think if as a creative you’ve never worked through the night on projects then you’re not a creative.

      Thanks Chris.


  1. Content with Crappy | Gary Dickenson - [...] people to do the right thing is a blog post in itself and something I briefly touched on here ...