How to spot the real from the fake

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How to spot the real from the fakeI’ve been on a bit of a rampage recently as numerous clients have called in the cavalry (that would be us) to address critical online needs, oftentimes displacing an incumbent firm that just isn’t getting the job done. I struggle to understand how many of these firms exist in the first place, as they seem to break the most fundamental rules of client management – not to mention even the minimal level of integrity we deem mandatory to turn on the lights every morning.

I wanted to share a few simple, obvious ways you can tell if the web design agency you are working with should be fired immediately and a refund demanded for all the shoddy work already completed. (And to all those fake web agencies who Googled “the cardinal sins of web development,” you’re welcome.)

1.       If any agency sprinkles links to their site from your site = FAKE. This drives me crazy. I’ve seen this tactic employed in everything from the ridiculously obvious footer text link to hidden META data within the HTML code. This is acceptable if the web firm negotiates it openly and discounts their services and/or donates their services for free (note how we do it on the awesome site we donated to Ready Readers). However shame on all firms for taking advantage of your clients who pay full price for your services just so you can gain SEO benefit. Amateur hour, no doubt.

2.       If your site is launched without a favicon = FAKE. This simply shows a lack of maturity and professionalism in your web design agency. The favicon—the tiny icon next to the site name in the browser tab, like the Google Mail envelope, for those that don’t speak webby—is a very small detail, but the devil is in the details. If your agency doesn’t include this in their site launch process, they are probably a traditional firm skirting by on their good looks or ability to get you drunk and sign a contract. No doubt, they would also miss crucial details such as title tags, images optimized for page weight and inclusion of an XML sitemap. The bare minimum for any reputable website.

3.       If their “web team” really isn’t theirs at all = FAKE. So many traditional firms try to win web business and then staff with contractors or freelancers—after all, it’s expensive to employ a team that specializes in web design and development. But this is a very risky proposition for clients who are relying on the web agency to deliver a complex solution. So many traditional marketing firms sell web design services and then simply contact a smaller web design firm to execute, thus creating a 20% mark-up while providing no value. Cut out the middle man and contact the web design firm directly, then pocket that extra cash.

If you’re ever in doubt whether the firm you’re about to hire is the real deal or an imposter, just contact Integrity to see what we can do for you instead. Cause here, we always keep it real.

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