The web designer or company who has served your business well in the past may not always be the best option for the future.
There are a number of reasons for this. Understanding where the issue (or issues) lie will determine the most appropriate response.
Think of them as warning signs or pain points that shouldn’t be ignored.
Warning sign 1: Your website has issues that never seem to get fixed.
One or two teething problems aren’t necessarily reasons to change suppliers. Building and maintaining a website invariably comes with a few speed wobbles. The problem is when those issues seem intractable, or are never properly addressed.
We’re talking about bugs that seriously compromise your site’s performance. Maybe the contact form doesn’t work properly or pages load at a snail’s pace. Perhaps the Ecommerce functionality you paid a lot of money to build drops customer orders or botches their data.
When a web developer can’t (or won’t) fix mission-critical problems, it’s time to start looking at alternatives.
Warning sign 2: You need to take your site to the next level.
Maybe your site is working OK – but you need it to do more. Does your current developer have the chops to take it to the next level? Time for a serious discussion.
This sometimes occurs when a business decides it wants the site to be more than just an online brochure. They might have seen the potential for business transformation and want to add new functionality such as a custom-booking system. Not every web developer has the coding skills to deliver one that works.
Another issue is the dawning awareness that your site just looks, well, a bit clunky. While you were happy enough with the design a few years ago, you now realise it’s not doing justice to your brand. Can the developer deliver to a higher standard?
In these sorts of cases you need to have a serious chat. Spell out what you want the next iteration of your site to do, and show some examples. Ask the developer to provide links to sites they’ve built to a similar standard. Can they?
Warning sign 3: Jack of all trades, master of one or two.
Some companies operate a business model called ‘We Can Do It All!”
What they really mean is ‘We Want All Your Budget!’
In web development, there are very few companies that excel in all aspects of design, coding, SEO, social media marketing, copywriting, Google Adwords, and whatever tomorrow’s hot trend turns out to be. Most specialise in a couple of areas and either outsource or improvise the bits outside their core skillset.
It doesn’t take an MBA to spot the flaw in this business model, at least from the customer’s perspective. You may need to invest some time in working out whether your interests are best served by it. Perhaps you can shift to a best-of-breed approach, where you use specialists for different elements of your online marketing.
And if the web company doesn’t want to know, perhaps it’s time to go to the market.
Warning sign 4. Months turn into years, but somehow the web team never quite seems to get it right.
This is a variant of the first warning sign, but it’s subtler than that. Instead of glaring faults that are beyond the ability of the web team to fix, you gradually realise that things are never quite 100%.
It might be a service-related issue, such as persistently slow responses to your requests. It might be a weakness in design – such as poorly optimised images – that the developer can’t seem to resolve.
Perhaps the web developer is a genuinely nice guy who makes all the right noises. But the issues persist.
After giving them time to lift their game, you have to make a call. A website that’s below par can’t be allowed to stay up forever, reflecting poorly on your brand. Go to the market.
You deserve better. Here’s how to get it.
If you recognise any of these warning signs, you’re not being well served by your web developer. Your business has outgrown their ability to serve you, and it’s time to move on.
Many companies balk at this stage because they feel trapped. There may be practical issues to resolve, such as hosting and back-end access. But you should never feel obliged to stick with a web company that you’ve come to realise isn’t delivering.
Still stuck? Find out how to move your website when your web developer lets you down.
The upside of moving to a more competent web developer will far outweigh any awkwardness you feel at ending a relationship you’ve outgrown.
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