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Thread: Competing with bad web designers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Competing with bad web designers?

    One situation I encounter constantly is finding a small business that has purchased web design services from a company that just plain sucks.

    I'm not going to name any of the businesses, but it runs rampant in my area (I'm currently resident in a small town, but am moreso reffering to the surrounding cities).

    These designers have absolutely NO standards compliance, the websites are incredibly un-attractive, and in most cases very inefficient (UI wise, and bandwidth wise).

    The sad thing is, once one of these smaller businesses have already bought the website, not knowing that they can get much better, there is no way out. They can't afford another website by a credible designer, so they are stuck with an ugly website that detracts from their business.

    I hate it. These designers aren't web designers - they are people who learned some HTML and a little Photoshop, and obviously have no motivation to move forward and continue to learn the newer techniques regarding web design.

    The problem is, they are established in the area. They have their hooks in many businesses already, because the business can't get by without the design company managing their website for them.

    What is the best approach to compete with these poor quality design companies, while still being able to earn a reasonable amount of money for my work? I will be officially starting my business within the next month, and want to be able to approach my customers offering the best possible solutions to their problems.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2004
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    You need to focus more on marketing your business image -- standards-complient, truly professional design. Your goal should be to persuade potential customers to use your service before the other business' get their hands on them.

    Spend some extra time promoting your own image. Let the other companies offer bad services, but make sure everyone in your targeted demographic understands that the services you offer are far superior.

    Regards.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2005
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    That is all very much similar to many other Internet industries. A lot of Internet businesses are relatively cheap to startup and so you see a lot of ridiculously low prices with low-quality output and/or service.

    I am in the web hosting industry and with $1/mo hosts popping up everywhere, there are people bound to be setup for a let-down when they realize that their hosts can't produce the quality service that they ought to be getting. But you get what you pay for right?

    For your situation, companies will realize that their site design didn't work for them and that it may not effectively deliver the message that they are hoping for. Companies are willing to put out the extra $ to ensure that the service and/or product that they are paying for is of the quality they come to expect.

  4. #4
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    As you described the problem, these buinesses are unaware that they can get better until it's to late. In which case you need to reach them first.
    Depending on how much time you've got free, you could try some really targetted advertising, like looking around your area for comanies that don't currently have websites and making sure that if they do want one, they either choose you or at least another credible designer (no buisness gained but at least you lost to worthy foe).
    Maybe just after another company falls victim to these guys you could post a questionaire asking why they chose an inferiour company over yours.
    If you've got loads of time on your hands then you could try to find out when one of your potentialy lost customers is consulting with a known poor designer and try to bump into the boss and mention (watch the amazingly clever subtlety) why you don't work for that designer.

    Disclaimer these are just presumptions, I know nothing about buisness, I am only 16. Take advice at own risk.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2004
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    You refer to these bad designers as if they were anything short of a blessing!

    There should only be more of them.

    Market to the "victims" of these guys. Or better yet, hold them up as examples to new and potential clients. Or even better than that, take on of these victims and give him a redesign at the same price as he got the original crappy design or even less but with the stipulation that he be the champion for your cause and the example to all or your new cleints. You could get a nice quote from him, use him as a case study and allow occasional potentials to contact him as a reference. New clients would be more willing to serve as a referenc for u if the see your old clients already doing it. Just make sure that all the while, the "victim-turned-client" either quotes your regular fees or refrains from talking price altogether. Everyone wins in that scenario.

    Trust me, in business, nearly every problem is really an opportunity for something greater.

  6. #6
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    Personally, I would take a hit on the first one I did. I would go at one of the companies with the horrible web site (preferably the one with the shortest possible development time) and in my spare time build them a standards comlpiant prettiful website.

    Then I would market it to them by showing them examples of what the other company did, and what you can do for half of what they paid that other company. Or do it pro-bono (for free) on the stipulation that they help you out with a bit of word of mouth, and possibly some sort of other advertising.

    Having this company change over and their blessings in your portfolio might be a good foot in the door for other companies. Save before and after screenshots to show what you can do.

    You'll take a hit on the first one or two, but once people start seeing you are superior...they will go to you.

  7. #7
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    I challenge my potential client's to compare our services with other surrounding businesses. I love the fact that they are not as customer and quality oriented as we are. They actually help me sell my services. I write a detailed proposal and tell them that when they contact other companies to require a detailed proposal from them, that way they can compare instantly right there in front of them. I also tell them to research the other companies. Look at their past designs. I always send potential clients a list of sites we have built. I even offer references of past clients. It seems to work thus far for us

  8. #8
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    Baltimore, MD
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    I've actually been thinking about trying to go and start making money at web design/development. i'm just wondering what size bussinesses everyone is talking about. Obviously if they are a huge bussiness they will have internal people maintaining and designing their site. but intuition tells me that very small mom an pop kind of bussinesses wouldnt want to spend any serious amount of money on a website (200-300?). another quesiton is what kind of tactics do you use in the actual proposal you send them? a formal proposal is great but in what words can you describe what you'll do for them? most owners are going to be non technical people that barely even know what frames are, let alone building a site without them. i hope that makes sense ;-)

  9. #9
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    Here's some advice.

    1. Don't run down the competition. This will always be interpreted as you being petty.

    2. Be willing to SHOW the client that his website can be better. Invest some time doing several mockups that show him what he COULD be doing. Unfortunately, you must be willing to do these for free just to get in the door, AND don't get too attached to them. The client will ask for so many changes that you'll end up starting over anyways.

    3. The customer is always right. I have a client with a sucky website (from a web design standpoint) because they WANTED it that way. They have their own ideas about branding and communication, and I went with their ideas, even though I disagreed.

    It is said that in the Renaissance, that the master painters were regarded no more highly than common house painters. Only later were they recognized as the true artists they were. We must be willing to be treated like housepainters, even though we know we are the gods of our time

  10. #10
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    1. Don't run down the competition. This will always be interpreted as you being petty.

    I agree. This is childish. Let the client figure it out for themselves.


    2. Be willing to SHOW the client that his website can be better. Invest some time doing several mockups that show him what he COULD be doing. Unfortunately, you must be willing to do these for free just to get in the door, AND don't get too attached to them. The client will ask for so many changes that you'll end up starting over anyways.

    I do not agree. We send the proposal. If they need to see something we show our past work. We do not have time to create a mock up each time a client calls us. If it a large project (>$4,000) then we will consider creating a sample mock up for them. Usually only if it looks like we will get the project though. Lots of people tend to be "fishing" for quotes so we don't waste our time.

    3. The customer is always right. I have a client with a sucky website (from a web design standpoint) because they WANTED it that way. They have their own ideas about branding and communication, and I went with their ideas, even though I disagreed.

    This is a touchy subject. It is mostly a matter of taste, but if you know how to sell people on your ideas, and your ideas really are better for the clients needs then most of the time you will be able to sell them on what your ideas are. Again this is only effective if it will help the client to realize the maximum potential in an online presence. What I mean by this is do not try to sell them on a techie website if the have a florist shop. Don't try to overdo it either. If they don't need Flash and boat loads of graphics don't sell it to them it will only turn them off to your ideas. You must walk the fine line of "thinking outside of the box" and being conservative. I always err on the side of conservative ;-)

  11. #11
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    Research the competition in oyur area and offer potential clients a slide show on your site that shows the competitions work and then your portfolio.

    If it's as bad as you say, they will be able to see who they should hire.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by some_yahoo
    Here's some advice.

    1. Don't run down the competition. This will always be interpreted as you being petty.
    Not only is it petty but running them down is an acknowledgement of them as a threat. It will only peak the interest of clients who are left to wonder, "What is this guy scared of?"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reli4nt
    Not only is it petty but running them down is an acknowledgement of them as a threat. It will only peak the interest of clients who are left to wonder, "What is this guy scared of?"
    Which is excatly why I encourage prospective clients to compare us to our competition Some call me arrogant, some say hard headed but I usually land the project

  14. #14
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    I disagree with the thought that showing the competitions work is petty. If by showing the work of others makes YOU scared, that sounds like a personal problem.

    Showing competition obviously works, look at Progressive Insurance. They give their competitors rates are their business is very stable and growing. People appreciate others that have their best interest in mind.

    It is professional to have done your homework with the comp. If you show your prospects their work you don't have to tell them who they are but instead use them as a way to showcase the differences you offer.

    Good business people are constantly looking for the best value for the dollar. Maybe you aren't it, but maybe you are. If you can show them that you are truly the best in the area and they choose otherwise, it's their lose. You really don't want every John or Jane as a client anyway.

  15. #15
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    Jun 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by rch10007
    I disagree with the thought that showing the competitions work is petty. If by showing the work of others makes YOU scared, that sounds like a personal problem.

    Showing competition obviously works, look at Progressive Insurance. They give their competitors rates are their business is very stable and growing. People appreciate others that have their best interest in mind.

    It is professional to have done your homework with the comp. If you show your prospects their work you don't have to tell them who they are but instead use them as a way to showcase the differences you offer.

    Good business people are constantly looking for the best value for the dollar. Maybe you aren't it, but maybe you are. If you can show them that you are truly the best in the area and they choose otherwise, it's their lose. You really don't want every John or Jane as a client anyway.
    If you do good work, it will stand on its own merits and people will notice. It depends what kind of people you are targetting. Small business startups looking to open up a little online store to sell their little hobby knick-knacks are probably more likely to be money-oriented, but they also tend to be the least technical savvy. In my experience, people who know exactly what they want and can differentiate a website done by say 2advanced versus one done by some less-qualified/less-talented individual, are more likely to put out the money to make their vision a realization. At that point, you don't need to play the price game. I've never seen an advertisement from 2advanced once in my life, they are big enough to stand on their own merits and receive major clients based on their popularity and reputation alone. Am I saying they are the best designers/flash developers on the planet? No, but you would be lying if you said their work was of low quality.

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