Online Marketing

Fred Lebhart Posted by Fred Lebhart on October 17, 2020

The Top Complaints About Website Agencies

The Top Complaints About Website Agencies

What We've Learned Designing Websites Over 15 Years

Over the years I've discussed website projects with literally thousands of people from businesses of all sizes. I hear a lot of complaints about other web design companies, including what you'd expect (horror stories about long delays and failed projects).

I started keeping a list on my phone, and add new complaints as I hear them...I use this as a tool to ensure that efelle is operating at 100%. So far, I’ve collected dozens but here is a list of the 25 top complaints I've heard about web companies.

Although not exactly a PhD thesis, there is enough data to draw a few conclusions. I’ve put the complaints into three groups:

  • Planning and Service: includes all complaints about communication issues, such as listening, managing expectations and meeting deadlines.
  • Technical and Programming: includes capabilities complaints, technical limitations and hosting issues.
  • Design: includes alignment with brand, lookin’ good.

Some of the complaints were wide-ranging and added to more than one category. This chart shows the percentage of complaints for each category:

Top Web Agency Complaints

It’s immediately obvious that service is the biggest problem clients have with web design companies.

So Why Do So Many Web Design Companies Suck?

Here are some of the main reasons:

  • Web design firms are project-based, not account-based like traditional ad agencies or IT support companies. They may not have the people and processes in place to provide the kinds of ongoing enhancements and support that clients inevitably need like a support team or account managers.
  • This is an industry where almost anything is possible, so clear communication is desperately important. Dozens of options may be discussed, each with pros and cons. This means misunderstandings are common…and sometimes disastrous.
  • Web designers are busy. Clients often need months to get comfortable enough to sign a proposal. That makes it very hard to manage capacity. And it’s a growing industry. A lot of web companies, especially the very cheap and very good ones, are slammed.

What Should Clients Do About It ?

First, keep this in mind: when choosing a “web design team,” you’re choosing a project management approach, a process, a help desk, and ideally, a long-term web partner. If something goes wrong, it won’t likely be a design or programming problem. It’s all about service and communication.

My co-worker Jason here at efelle once wrote a post called How to Select the Right Web Development Company, but I’ll save you the click and summarize it here:

  1. Check References. Just pick up the phone and call some people! As with job candidates, the best indication of future performance is past performance. Have a genuine conversation with companies the vendor has worked with. Or at the very least…
  2. Read Reviews, but don’t stop there. Search around for a few minutes. Go to the Better Business Bureau website and see if there are any complaints.
  3. Get a Demo. Of course, you’ll want a demo of the content management system, but also get a demo of the project management tools. Wait, they don’t use project management tools? Bad sign…
  4. Are they taking notes? There may be indications of vendor chaos in the first meeting. They should be capturing goals and requirements in an organized way.
  5. Meet the Team. Again, just like a job interview, nothing replaces the face-to-face meeting.

Summary of lessons learned…

Many web design companies just aren’t focused on service and don’t know how to run a successful website wedesign project. A good designer and smart programmer can start a web company and make websites – Corne and I did, starting way back in 2005. But they may not truly realize what it takes to offer great service – Corne and I didn’t at first.

But we figured it out.

  • Vendors: Focus on communication, process, project management and support.
  • Clients: Carefully vet companies for service and commitment, listen for direct answers

The 27 web design agency complaints:

Without further ado, here's the list --do you have anything you'd like to add?

  1. Inept, Old Technology, Slow, Non-Responsive
  2. Non-Responsive, Disappears
  3. Too Slow
  4. Doesn’t Listen, Incompetent
  5. Over their head (limited capabilities)
  6. Couldn’t execute, Overpromised
  7. Misled, Poor Communication
  8. Technical Limitations
  9. Never Delivered, Overpromised, Missed Deadlines, Offshoring
  10. Non-Responsive, Offshoring
  11. Rude, Short, Impatient
  12. Design Problems, Relaunched Site without Approval
  13. Database Crashed
  14. Company is gone, can’t access the site
  15. Vendor was always slow, one-person shop
  16. Slow to respond, Poor Service
  17. Overpromised, Over their heads, Going Out of Business
  18. Non-responsive, not committed
  19. Didn’t explain Flash, SEO problems
  20. No control, Developers won’t give access
  21. In over their heads, CMS constraints
  22. The agency used overseas contractors and can no longer reach them
  23. Missed Deadlines
  24. Delays, Lack of capacity, Over-promised
  25. Communication problems, Designer fell off the earth.

Or would you like to work with a website agency partner that offers a proven approach for a solid ROI?

In Desperate Need of a Website Redesign Agency?

Our team of digital marketers is ready to transform your website into your top sales rep and the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Give us a call at 206.384.4909 or send us a note and we can get started today.