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Website Professionals Who Should Be Run Out Of Town


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#1 EGOL

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:14 AM

We have all heard bad stories about incompetent or dishonest web service companies who aggressively sell their services and claim to be TopGun, WhiteHat, ExpertGuru professionals.

Sometimes they don't even know that their methods are crap and will be ready to fight if you suggest that there is anything just slightly wrong with their service.

Yesterday I went to the office of a friend who is a very professional and competent person. He knows that I am all about websites and he was excited to tell me that he just got a website for his practice. We do a quick visit to it while I was at his office and he asks me to "take a look and let me know what you think" as I go out the door.

So, I go home, a bit afraid to check out the site and, yep it was bad... it was worse than expected. :(

-- Hidden text on every page.

-- Description and title tags are horrible (incorrect capitalization, grammar, punctuation)
(not what you want on the site of a very professional person)

-- The webservice company is listed as the registrant of the domain

You have probably been asked to "take a look and let me know what you think" before... How do you reply when you find this type of work?

I am just going to be factual and say.... "Your webdesign person owns your domain and they have hidden text on the site that could get you banned from Google." Probably a good thing that I discovered this at home and have an opportunity to cool off about it. If I would have seen it while at his office I would have been cussing :lol:

Those you who work on websites for a living are in an even more awkward position than I am... because if you say.. "the person who built your site is a rat" it will look like you are trying to steal their business. :)

#2 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:41 AM

If somebody asks me for my honest opinion, that's what they're going to get -- and my friends will get much the same information a prospective client would. "These are the problems with your site, and this is why these issues are problems."

However...I *never* offer advice unsolicited.

The awkward thing here is when the friend is obviously excited about their new web site and it's an atrocious piece of crap...it's never fun to burst their bubble that painfully.

But that's why I provide my response in as professional a manner as I can -- I want it clear that I'm addressing their web sites issues from a professional angle, NOT from an "I'm a personal friend" angle. I feel that setting the stage in a professional manner from the beginning helps maintain a separation between friendship and business -- even if there's no actual financial transaction being made.

#3 bwelford

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:17 PM

I find black and white answers so often cause problems.

Perhaps you should always immediately turn the question back on the website owner and say:
I'll be happy to do so. To make sure I cover all that you would feel important, do you have any aspects that you are not sure about?

When I came back with my considered opinion, I might start off as follows:

Perhaps I can mention that a website is always more complex than it may appear. In some ways it's like a high-performance racing car. For it to perform well in getting visitors via search and in giving them a good experience when they visit, there's a lot 'under' the hood that must be tuned.

In this case, ...

After all you're on their side really so if you can get the message over without anyone losing face, that's all to the good. I think it is important to realize that website design can be enormously complex even for relatively simple designs. Just think about all those cross-browser compatibility problems. Unfortunately the average website designer does not know all that they should.

#4 jonbey

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 01:15 PM

My only client so far had a terrible site. Lots of hidden text, terrible navigation, insane 'template system'. I told her hoe bad it was, although diplomatically. Her reply was simply "oh dear".

The craziest advice was from her host (who may have made the first site) who said to put the website in a subdirectory and redirect requests there, as it makes it easier to upgrade the site. Huh? Soon put an end to that sillyness.

#5 Ron Carnell

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:58 PM

I once had a woman I cared about ask me if a particular dress made her butt look fat.

I gave her my honest opinion.

That may have been the last honest opinion I ever gave.

#6 bwelford

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 03:07 PM

Help is defined by the recipient. (Peter Drucker)

If you only want complimentary advice from friends, perhaps you should carry around a card with a series of descriptive phrases on it. You then tell them it's a multiple choice question for which only one answer is allowed but they can choose 'I'm Not Sure'.

#7 SEOigloo

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 03:32 PM

You'll be saving you friend's neck, EGOL, if you're honest. Think of how he has been rooked.

Man, it makes me so mad to see this happen to small business owners. No matter how many site audits we do (a service we offer) I never fail to be amazed at the garbage bad companies get SMBs to invest in. It's so much worse than when a site is funky because it's homemade. When I know that people have given their hard earned money to these bad guys, it steams me.

Be bold, EGOL and tell it like it is. It's bad enough for your friend to have a site like that right now. It will be even worse if he still has it 3 months from now. Every day spent with a bad site is a wasted day.

#8 jonbey

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 05:08 PM

Some people mean no harm though, they are just clueless. Maybe 10 years agp keyword stuffing, hidden text etc were all the rage. Heck, a friend employed someone to build a website a few years ago (about the time I started) and they build a mad table layout, I assume something from the 90's. They even took an image, split it into 4 parts, and joined it again in the centre 4 tables. Wacky, but I guess it is all they know, and it took me to point out that there methods were pants. And my site was now much better, having been built in NVU.

#9 send2paul

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 01:29 AM

"Take no prisoners!" (Lawrence of Arabia - allegedly)

I have given two "honest opinions" of websites in my time - both to friends of mine, (still friends! :lol:), both websites were for small businesses they had started up.

Because they knew me, (yikes!), and I told them I would be blunt "about things" - they knew what to expect. I won't go into detail - but they were both "dreadfully awful" websites to one degree or another.

The best reaction I got from one friend was from someone else in his business who said, (about me) - "Wow! He really knows what he's talking about!". The other friend said "Thanks" :)

Honesty, (as long as you tell them "up front" that you are going to be honest about your opinion), is, I believe, always the best policy.

#10 jonbey

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 03:00 AM

I agree. When I start both my cousin and techy pal told me my site was bad. I felt inclined to believe them and followed their, and improved. If a friend started building a conservatory and a build pal told him he was going about it the wrong way, and am sure they would listen. Websitres should be no different.

But, I have a pal building a site at the moment, and he is still using the tables, inline styles on each page etc, no proper navigation. Thr site is crap. I have tries to tell him, but he is not listening. I used words like "you need a professional website for your business, I'll be happy to do it for free". But he enjoys tinkering away. What can I do? Forget about it!

#11 EGOL

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 06:34 AM

Thanks for the feedback and sharing of experiences. I suspected that just about everyone has seen sites like these. I will see this person again next week and will tell him the short list of fatal flaws - which will probably be enough since he is not into the technical aspects of websites.

If he is smart he will ask... What should I do?... I think that my advice will be... First, find a registrar where you can get the domain transferred. Then make a friendly call to these guys and have the domain transferred to your registrar in your name. Once it is in your name at your registrar change the password and lock the domain from transfer.

Once he has that he can deal with the other issues, knowing that his domain is safe. If it was my site I would hire someone competent to rebuild - but not in a CMS that ties him to development with a single company.

Since the domain has not been used before it has no backlinks to worry about.

#12 AbleReach

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 03:07 PM

If there is a chance he hasn't paid them yet, I'd advise going for the friendly call sooner, rather than later.

What a headache.

#13 bwelford

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 03:42 PM

The problem is that many website owners do not give a list of specifications when they ask a web designer to make them a website. Most technical products should have a clear specification so that it is clear whether the product as delivered satisfies the specification.

Of course usually there is no specification if you are buying a work of art, like a painting or a sculpture. Perhaps therein lies the problem. A website is not just a work of art.

#14 jonbey

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 03:46 PM

Also hard for a client to give a list of specifications when they know nothing about how websites work.

#15 EGOL

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 04:55 PM

I agree Barry, this person (and other who get these deals) should do a little more research before they pay good money.... but it would be hard to know every T that needs crossing.

#16 BoBoMisiu

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 01:23 AM

I want my clients to trust me. Clients who don't know what to ask for and are on their fourth site in as many years need hand holding. They didn't do their homework and misplaced their money and trust is unethical people. Now they need to build trust. I tell many they need to start over and the reasons why. Most of those potential clients can't trust my more objective judgement and I don't get the work.

On an aside. I worked as a project manager for a construction contractor who repaired concrete walls. He would always walk around the office saying "I want to get paid again for doing this job. It only needs to last two years. Don't do a good job. I want to be out there doing the repairs!" I got up and walked out on a monday morning after hearing the song "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash. I was smiling because I did the right thing for me.

#17 EGOL

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:45 AM

Hello BoboMisiu,

Thanks for sharing those stories.

I used to own a terraced property that has several hundred feet of hand-laid stone walls. I am glad you walked out on that contractor. Good for you!

#18 A.N.Onym

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:04 AM

EGOL, I highly doubt you'll phrase your tips in such a way that'll anger your friend :) All the rest of the advice has been given :)

#19 notepage

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 01:21 AM

I would be honest and up front, find resources on the web that support what you are saying and that will reinforce why those things are issues.

Best of luck.

#20 EGOL

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 07:51 AM

Great idea, notepage. Thanks! Third party confirmation is a good thing.

#21 goodnewscowboy

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:17 PM

If this is a brand new domain name, I think he has to wait 60 days to transfer the name, no?

#22 cre8pc

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:27 PM

You have probably been asked to "take a look and let me know what you think" before... How do you reply when you find this type of work?



This happens to me ALL The Time!

When I see poor work that may put a site at risk, I alert the site owner - WHEN ASKED FOR MY FEEDBACK only.

My face is very readable, so if this happens in person, the reaction on my face starts a conversation and then I will likely point out things that as a professional, *I* would not do to a client's web site.

I can't lie, so I'm pretty much stuck with being brutally honest, but gentle if I have bad news to tell them.

#23 EGOL

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 02:54 PM

If this is a brand new domain name, I think he has to wait 60 days to transfer the name, no?

Thanks! I think you are correct. I will check the rules at the registrar's site.

I alert the site owner - WHEN ASKED FOR MY FEEDBACK only.

Thanks! This is what I am going to do. :angel:

#24 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 11:03 AM

Another axiom I try to live buy is: Don't just bring problems. Bring solutions.

I would phrase the "bad news" in terms of possible ill effects: You don't own the domain, and so the owner will continue to charge you for its use, or could hijack it later. It has hidden text that could get you banned from Google. And then I'd end with some prioritized actions to address it: 1. Get the domain transferred immediately. 2 Remove the hidden text. 3. Review the meta information and make these adjustments.

I think it's much easier to swallow when you parse it out in this way.

#25 EGOL

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 12:39 PM

Good idea Frank. Solutions! I have not talked to him yet... but soon.

Thanks!



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