A recent experience with a Newcastle based web agency has prompted me to warn other unsuspecting people who put their trust in a design company, of when they’re being ripped off and, for want of a better phrase, taken advantage of.
As a design professional myself, I have an understanding of the inner workings of a creative organisation, what internal challenges they have and why things are done a certain way, whether it be web or other design related work. Knowing this, I can advise people when I think a designer and/or design agency is being genuine, and when they are seemingly taking advantage of your naivety and draining you of your hard-earned money just because they can get away with it.
1. “We’re the experts, you’re the client”
Maybe you haven’t heard that exact phrase, but any statement with those kinds of connotations under questioning or in response to an idea of yours, may be the first sign that your designer is just plain lazy. With design projects, you are paying for the designer’s time, therefore they will do whatever they can to ensure that time is as short as possible. If you feel you have put a good idea forward and they won’t entertain it, ask the question why, and maybe consult a third party design professional if you are sceptical of their response. Knowledge is power in those situations.
2. Additional and/or Hidden Charges
As the client, one thing you need to make sure is that you’re paying for what you think you’re paying for. If you’ve briefed someone to design you a letterhead for example, and you have agreed a price with them based on that presumption, make sure that it’s stipulated in the contract that what you have asked for is indeed what you are getting. No matter how small the project, without detailed documentation, interpretation could potentially result in you paying more than you originally intended for what you wanted. The more detailed the documentation, the more protection you have against that.
3. “We deleted it”
Maybe you used a designer a few months back and have misplaced the files they sent, or maybe they didn’t send the file types you needed in the first place. This is when you hand all of the power over to a designer/design agency. They can claim they no longer have the files and need to recreate them in an attempt to try and justify scandalous hourly rates for what might be something as simple as sending an email attachment. One thing I always tell people is, don’t settle the bill until you have received ALL of the design files you have paid for, including the original Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign documents. You are entitled to all of the files produced by the designer to create your artwork as it is time that you have paid for, and don’t let them tell you otherwise.
4. Website Hosting Costs
I’ve heard of people paying various amounts for their web hosting, and it often depends on the complexity of your website and amount of server space required. However, if you have a standard open source CMS website, maybe WordPress or Magento, and are paying your designer anything over £25 per month to host it, I would suggest you at least ask the question as to why they are charging so much. Again, if you are sceptical of their answers, consult a third party specialist for their advice or check hosting costs on 123-Reg or FastHosts and see how they compare to what you pay.
5. Long Timescales
If you’re ever made to wait a long time for what seems like such a simple task, it might be a sign that your designer sees you as low priority. If you’re waiting weeks for something without explanation, be sure to ask why. Remember, it’s the nice clients who get pushed to the bottom of the pile, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Does any of the above ring true? It might be time to ask your designer/design agency some serious questions, and if they aren’t answered to a satisfactory standard, look for a new provider who will give you an honest service.
July 22, 2015, Jonny Miller, Founder & Director