All Web developers are crooks!

Jun 01, 2012 2 Comments by

Michael was upset. He’d just wasted a lot of money on a new website and thought he’d been ripped off.  He wasn’t happy. 

Many business owners are unhappy with their websites. Many seem to select the wrong website developers and don’t manage them very well.  Poor choices often end in tears…  

Ignorance is not bliss and it gets expensive.  This was hammered home to me at our Digital Travelers breakfast meeting the other day.

Different points came up in the free-flowing discussion, but probably the strongest was from a bloke  I’ve known for 25 years. Let’s call him Michael…

Michael started his negative rant with a comment along the lines of  “All web developers are crooks!”

Michael, a gruff and burly no-nonsense South African, said this mainly for dramatic effect but it sure got our attention. Not surprisingly his outburst  changed the mood of the meeting, especially given the presence of several of Perth’s leading web agencies in the room.

Michael was upset. He explained how he had spent $20,000 in the last 12 months, had pretty much wasted his money, did not have a new business website he could use and really had nothing to show for his investment.  And  Michael now had to start again with another firm and was very hesitant and reluctant to commit to this new firm.

And here in the Digital Travelers group, Michael was venting.  Actually it was good to discuss his issues, but sadly I have heard many similar stories from other business owners.

Strategic Objectives

To start with, just having a website without it being part of a sound digital business strategy is never the answer. A website without a digital strategy that makes sense is unlikely to be successful for the business.

How will you and the web dev company possibly know what the website needs to do – and how it needs to be built – if you aren’t clear on its strategic  objectives?

Building a website is like building a house

Building a website is a bit like building a house.  You need to have a vision of  what you want, you need proper plans, you need a bunch of clever tradespeople and technical people to build it – and you need someone experienced to coordinate the development and make sure all of the tasks in the development process are happening in the right sequence.

Dodgy Developers Do Exist

Just as there are some dodgy building companies knocking up houses on the cheap, so too there are web development firms doing the same thing. And to make it worse, there are so many cheap off-shore web developers available.

The risks of development stuff-ups usually multiply with the remoteness of the team members, and exponentially increase when you have foreign language-based communication problems.

Mis-interpretations happen ALL the time, and it’s frightening how something can go off-track so easily.

Will you change your mind?

Just as importantly, you (the client) need to realize that if you change your mind about what you want during the development process then some completed work may have to be re-done.

With a house if you decide you want to add en-suite bathrooms for every bedroom, the best time to decide this is before the plans are started. The next best time is before the plans are completed.  The worst time to decide you want changes is when the house has been built.

Nothing is impossible

Web developers, designers and programmers love challenges. Nothing is ever ‘impossible’.  Anything can be done. it just takes time, especially when you have to start again and re-build what has already been completed.  This time comes at a price. And you pay the price.

In an ideal world you will have a very clear vision of what you want right up front – and you won’t  change your mind along the way.

BUT that’s not how it works.  That ain’t reality.

I reckon 95% of website visions evolve during the course of the development.  You have to expect it, and so does your web company.  The more you learn what is possible, the more options you have for your own site.  Technology evolves too, which changes the range of possibilities.  You need to use flexible systems that allow for changes to be easily made.

With flexible website development systems, you can add extra bits and pieces on without having to re-architect the whole project. That is, of course, unless your changes are massive.

Web companies are not all the same

Web companies are not all the same. Some web development companies are terrible and probably should not stay in business.

Some haven’t got a bloody clue what they are doing and are only in the game for the money.

But most web development companies are good. Some are even great. Your challenge is to find the right fit for your business.

Please learn How to Get a Good Business Website

Our friend Michael emailed me today to thank me for the breakfast, but mainly to thank me for an article I wrote back in May last year which he has only just read on this website.  He thinks it should be mandatory reading for any business owner wanting a website.

Personally, and in all modesty, I think he’s probably right.

Please take a few minutes to digest the article Michael read, albeit too late to save his $20k.  How to get a good business website.

And here’s another article Michael could have read.  This alone could have prevented a lot of his grief.  It’s all about Choosing Technology solutions.

And yes, this absolutely applies to the choice of website content management system your web company will use for your next website. It’s an important choice, and could make or break your ability to progress along your digital roadmap.

Most business owners don’t make the best choices. It’s not because they are dumb or silly. Far from it. It’s just that they don’t know enough in this area to ask the right questions at the right time.

Please don’t make the same mistakes as Michael.  He’s learnt a lot lately, but these have been expensive lessons he could have done without. He would have preferred to get it right at the start. 

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  1. Mark Garner says:


    it really makes me angry when I hear stories like this, and I hear far too many of them.

    Such developers aren’t doing the industry any favours, and it just makes it harder for the rest of us when we’re trying to offer a professional service or advice.

    Maybe it’s time we started some sort of professional body and accreditation process.

    • Richard Keeves says:

      Hi Mark
      yep, some developers aren’t doing the industry or themselves any favours, and doing no favors for their clients either. That said, many – and I’d like to think most – do the long term right thing in the long term interests of their clients. Or maybe I’m just being hopeful.

      And yep, there are a few things that could be done.

      Must be time for a chat…