Doing Due Diligence with Web Companies

Recently a client hired us to do website design and copywriting to re-vamp their website and focus more on a better user interface or user experience.  The client said they would use their own web development company who was great and who was also an expert at SEO.

When we handed the web design over, the web developer/SEO expert told us that our files were useless because we use PhotoShop layered PSD files (an industry standard for designing websites).  Instead they use a program called Paint Shop Pro,  which is a photo editing software, not web design software.  This immediatley put up red flags for us, that maybe, this web development company was not so great after all.  We ran their website through W3C Markup Validation Service which checks how good the coding or programming of a site is.  On this web company's own home page alone, there were 328 errors and 29 warnings.

So, eager to see our great web design implemented by another web development company, I've been waiting for this new website to launch.  I've been checking every week.  I finally saw it today.  Now, I am no "SEO Expert" (we work with a company who is though), but I do know the basics about SEO.  I ran the website through W3C Markup Validation Service and found that the site (developed by a supposed SEO and web developer expert) has hundreds of coding errors and warnings.  On one page alone there were 167 coding errors. Having all those coding errors can negatively affect useability of a website if the pages do not render correctly and if it slows down the page load time.  In fact, having all these coding errors could negatively affect a site's SEO. 

The site is laced with all sorts of other issues including inline styles, absence of H1, H2 and meta keywords, and the list goes on.  It also has not been cross browser tested, as it renders different across various browsers.  The other very troubling thing about this website developer is he created a resources page of links that has nothing to do with the client's profession, and appears to be only for recirpocal links.  It takes away from the client's credibility, as it appears they are endorsing all these other unrelated companies they don't even know.  Here is a good post on the practice of reciprocal links: http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=1171

Additionally, this company took our web design and re-vamped it (slaughtered would be a better word).  He took the intended design, which was created with usability standards and provided a visible call to action, and destroyed the integrity of the design, breaking nearly all the seven deadly sins of landing page designNavigation was changed and links that were to be on the home page are gone (for example the contact us link), a flash component was added to the navigation bar (which does not work properly, is distracting and does not align correctly).  Many other usability issues are present.

So, why do I write about this?  Unfortunately, all too many times, companies like this exist.  There are plenty of good web design and SEO companies out there, but do your due dilgence when contracting them.  Run their own site through code checker.  Also, utilize this handy document on how to hire a web company.  Make sure they are using the latest technology, techniques and write standards-compliant HTML and CSS, and know which elements on a page are important for good SEO.

For more information on web design, web development or SEO, please contact us.  We provide complimentary web audits.

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