3 Red Flags to Beware of When Hiring a Web Development Company

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Partner & Chief Creative Officer
Apr 30, 2015

So you're in the market for a web solution to your business challenges. You have goals, a budget and you are ready to go.

How do you start? What do you do?

There are many factors to consider when hiring a web development company, but there are a few very telling red flags to watch out for that will help you weed out the bad apples right away. Here are three red flags to look out for when hiring a web development company. If you notice these red flags in an agency, it's probably a good idea to keep searching, because you may not be a good fit for each other.

Sweet talk – they tell you everything you want to hear.

Have you noticed that the people you trust most are the ones who just give you the truth, even when it's hard to hear? When there is spinach in your teeth, they tell you. You are about to invest potentially thousands of dollars to realize your idea. Your business is your passion and your livelihood, and the web development company you partner with should take it as seriously as you do.

When you hear the sweet talking, take notice. If an agency is afraid to be honest with you or disagree for fear that you will be rubbed the wrong way, reconsider hiring them.

A web application development project entails a deep dive into many aspects of your business, even parts you would prefer people did not know about. A good agency will challenge you and push you outside your comfort zone.  You need an agency who is not afraid to disagree with you and who will stand by you when the going gets rough.

Sweet talk is for sales, sincerity is for success. As our Founder and CEO John Simanowitz says, “We offer our clients the truth.” When interviewing a web development company, consider bringing up a sensitive topic to see how they respond to conflict. Do they avoid the topic and give you the sweet answer or do they dive in? You want an agency who is willing to be in the trenches with you and who is not afraid of getting dirty and being real.

Guarantees – it will cost this much, and take this long.

When a web development company guarantees your project will take x amount of time and cost x dollars, take notice. This may be what you want to hear, but this likely isn't reality. We know that budget constraints and timelines are a fact of life for most businesses and you want certainty, but there is simply not enough information at the beginning of a project to know how long it will take. Here’s why.

Budgets and estimates only serve as fuzzy averages but they are not guarantees. They are ballparks. You are hiring an agency to create a custom user experience that tells your story and addresses your unique business needs. You are here to stand out, and that takes work. What you think you want on the first day of a project will change as you begin the deep dive into the development process.

We start almost every project we do with a discovery phase. It can take many hours to clearly define your specific goals. Only then can we make confident estimates about how long things will take, but even then things can change as you acquire a new level of awareness about your business and the options available to you.

Very often we think we know what we want, but discovery helps to clarify and focus our goals.  Any agency that puts a firm price tag and time stamp on your project is not telling you something.

'Yes syndrome' – they say yes to everything you want.

You show up for the first meeting with examples of websites you like. You tell the agency about your needs and the features that you have seen that you think will work. They pleasantly agree with you, and tell you they can do it, no questions asked. "YES" is all you hear. We call this "yes syndrome."

Think again! A web development company that really knows the process will never say they know the best course of action that early in the game. Developing innovative user experiences takes thoughtfulness, investigation and expertise. Every decision is carefully thought out. Every element of the site they build for you has a clear purpose to serve your users and business.  "Yes" may feel good, but it won't get you where you need to go!

Clients sometimes hire us after their first effort with another agency failed. We don't have a problem being the second agency that people call. We know what it takes to provide the quality that you and your clients expect and deserve.  Explore your options! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Measure twice, three times, even four, and cut once.

Ultimately, an agency that values honesty over making the sale, that is realistic about time and cost, and that is committed to doing what is right over doing what is easy will serve your goals and your business. If you need advice or have questions about the web development process, drop us a line. We thrive on solving problems, working with cool people and making new connections!

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