Website Design: Don’t Pay Too Much

Some website design consultants charge outrageous prices for sites that produce poor results:
Internet ScamBusters #6

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SCAM: Some Internet Consultants
Charge Outrageous Prices For Web Sites
That Produce Poor Results

This is one of the most common complaints we hear: a business owner hires an Internet consultant to create a web site or an Internet marketing plan. There is no guarantee whatsoever from the consultant. The business owner then pays the consultant a lot of money. The Web site or Internet marketing plan produces no (or very poor) results. And, unfortunately, the business owner is usually out of luck.

We hear this story many times each week. So, in this issue of Internet ScamBusters!, we’ll look at one aspect of this problem: How to hire a *good* Internet consultant. Here are “Dortch’s Top 10 Tips on How to Be, Become and/or Choose a Truly Useful, Non-Obnoxious Internet Consultant,” which Michael Dortch has graciously agreed to let us reprint in this issue. We’ll address other aspects of this problem in future issues of Internet ScamBusters!

“Dortch’s Top 10 Tips on How to Be, Become and/or
Choose a Truly Useful, Non-Obnoxious Internet Consultant”

  1. If you/they (your prospective consultants) haven’t been on the ‘net/the Web for at least a year, don’t even think about it. And if you/they aren’t on the ‘net at least once a week every week now, forget it. (At least five years additional computing/networking experience would be nice, but might put you/them out of the reach of a lot of consumers and/or small/new businesses.)
  • References, references, references (or direct personal experience, or endorsement by some local professional association and/or user group). Repeat as necessary.
  • Encourage strong opinions, but avoid strong biases and prejudices in consulting. There is never only one right way to do anything, and one size does not fit all without tailoring, if not major alterations.
  • Pick a specific initial problem and solve it together, for practice and for free. Offer or insist upon receiving a free initial consultation, one that produces at least one meaningful result and the serious prospect of an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Get along or get together with someone else. Don’t spend money on or take money from anyone with whom you wouldn’t willingly share lunch or coffee. Not every consultant or client is a real prospect for every customer or client.
  • Clearly define the scope of the problem to be solved, the expectations to be met, the expected schedule of payments and deliverables, and the conditions under which any of these can be changed or renegotiated. Up front.
  • Do your homework. Figure out the basics of the client’s situation or the consultant’s most likely contributions before a first meeting. If you’re a consultant, make sure the client knows beforehand what you expect them to know or be able to produce (type(s) of computers, name(s) and release number(s) of software programs, etc.). If you’re a client, make sure the consultant comes prepared for the type(s) of question(s) you’re going to ask.
  • If a particular relationship is going to be a learning experience for both the consultant and the client, the consultant owes it to the client and the profession of consultancy to state this early and clearly. And if a client finds out later a consultant is seeing something for the first time with which the consultant claimed and/or feigned familiarity, the client owes it to other clients and good consultant everywhere to fire that idiot.
  • Make sure every contract ends with the client receiving documentation of what the consultant did and/or recommended. These should be in writing on the consultant’s letterhead, so the client can include it as substantiation in communications with future vendors, including other consultants.
  • Be tough, and be fair, but keep your own business needs, strengths and weaknesses uppermost in your mind at all times. If both client and consultant adhere to this, what should result is an equitable and fair-minded contractual agreement that benefits and educates both sides.

As entertainment critic/drive-in philosopher Joe Bob Briggs says, I’m surprised I have to explain these things. Then again, given things like those radio ads, maybe I’m not.

Reprinted with permission from Michael Dortch <76711.1500@compuserve.com>