Beware of False Web Development Promises; Web ‘Masters’ Who Damn Competitors, Over-Promise Often Under-Deliver

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Webmasters claiming they have bigger, better solutions to your existing web presence may be false prophets looking to make “false profits.” Self-proclaimed “web gurus” often prey on ignorance to promise “do more, cost less” solutions. Opportunistic web charlatans attempt to instill fear about present web conditions (e.g., security vulnerabilities and shoddy programming) to spur change. Before accepting advice from an unknown web company, do some factfinding to determine if their suggestions benefit you—or are just a ploy to line their pockets.

Webmasters claiming they have bigger, better solutions to your existing web presence may be false prophets looking to make “false profits.”

Self-proclaimed “web gurus” often prey on ignorance to promise “do more, cost less” solutions. Opportunistic web charlatans attempt to instill fear about present web conditions (e.g., security vulnerabilities and shoddy programming) to spur change.

Before accepting advice from an unknown web company, do some factfinding to determine if their suggestions benefit you—or are just a ploy to line their pockets. Review qualifications and skills versus the present web company; ethics and business practices of the company seeking your business; and what you actually need. Salient recommendations include:

1. Determine needed skill level—web developer, web designer, web application developer. For graphics or a simple site, any of the three may work. For database content and/or interactive content, look for a web developer or application developer. For a web-based application to run your business and create a reliable platform, hire an application developer.

Don’t pay for initial consultation. A reputable firm should share ideas in the spirit of winning your business. Walk away from anyone demanding payment because you “might take these ideas elsewhere.” A good designer-developer will develop proprietary ideas better than anyone else.

2. Demand proof. Make a company verify positive endorsements. Watch out when someone takes potshots at an existing web vendor. (Accomplished, above-board firms don’t need to proselytize business.) And, beware the web “guru” that claims to know, and can improve, your source code. It’s a guess at best (and not found in the “view source” browser command). It’s usually hidden too deep in backend processing for anyone except the creator to figure out without extensive research and access to your actual source code (on the servers).

3. Look for sophistication. FrontPage and a HTML book don’t make someone a web developer anymore than a wrench and repair manual make an auto mechanic. Web development and design is a trade, a craft. It requires experience, creativity, and skill. (And, demand proof of previous work beyond a portfolio. Verify claims with the firm whose site is represented.)

4. Hide from most SEO salespeople. Companies offering fee-based search engine optimization are often looking to take your money and leave you with excuses. SEO as part of an overall development process is important, but don’t jump at the latest promise of immediate rank improvement without justification and, again, verification of past successes. Also, carefully consider cost/benefit ratio of improved ranking, and the ongoing cost to stay improved.

5. Stay with Open Source software if it works. Don’t convert from an open source software platform such as Linux to a proprietary software platform such as Windows on a whim. Who cares what operating system your designer or hosting provider runs? If the software is working, leave it alone. If there’s a problem, then address it. Both Linux and Windows are proven platforms for running small business to enterprise level web applications.

6. Don’t redesign to be “trendy.” Beware of development agencies that only promote full redesign. Look at historical data. When you last “redesigned” your site, did it pay for itself? Did it live up to its purpose? It may need updating, but not necessarily a full re-design.

When seeking a web vendor, search for a company that can make your website run smoothly, diagnose and fix problems quickly and affordably, exercise good common sense, and stand behind its work. Then, stay loyal as long as the firm continues to earn that loyalty and can handle expanding needs—because a good web development firm is hard to find.

Arif Gangji is principal of Neon Rain Interactive, LLC, a Denver-based web development company with associates worldwide. For more information, contact Arif Gangji at 1-877-888-8811.

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Arif Gangji