20 Signs Your Web Developer Is Badly Ripping You Off

More and more people today use the internet to search for products, services, or some other information.

Look at this Google statistic:

Searches on Google per day image

This is not considering other search engines.

So if your business doesn’t have a website, then you may be losing out on a lot.

However,  you may not enjoy the full benefits of having a website if your web developer or designer rips you off through the following ways:

1. They charge too much

Okay, I have to be extremely open here…

The fact is creating a website today isn’t as magical as it used to be 10 years ago. This is because there’re thousands of resources out there that can allow you to create a professional website in minutes and for cheap or even nothing.

I’ve seen people pay up to $10,000 to their web developers for professional websites that could be easily built with $1000(or even less!).Oops, I said it.

I’ve seen web developers charge thousands of dollars for projects they completed by just changing a simple template.

Note: I understand the huge difference in prices may be due to the brand and other factors depending on the country in question.

For example, a web designer in India may be comfortable charging $3.5/hour, whereas a web designer from the UK may not be comfortable doing the same.


This may be because India has a lesser standard of living than the UK.

money image

Source: Dustin Moore (Flickr)

2. They charge too little

While this may sound counterproductive to the point stated above, paying little for your website may just mean getting little value in return.

Point to note: Don’t always fall for the website developers with the cheapest price nor the website developers with the highest price.

3. They don’t optimise your site for SEO

Your web developer or designer may create your website to look beautiful on the human eye. However, in reality it may be ugly in a search engine’s eyes.

I’ve seen dozens of web developers who’re just concerned with finishing their job and getting paid by the client without taking into consideration how well the site is optimised for engines.

In fact, the is a huge chuck of web developers who’re not well experienced with SEO.

The whole idea of having a website is to take advantage of the opportunities it offers, which includes more customers. So what’s the point in having a website when it’s not properly optimised to bring new visitors?

4. They don’t optimise the site for lead conversion

Building a site and optimising it for SEO is one thing, and optimising it to convert visitors from these search engines is another thing.

 5. They’re old school

If your website is built on an ASP framework, then I question whether your developer knows we’re in 2016. Microsoft has replaced this technology with .NET many years ago.

old house image

Source: Daniel Sallai (Flickr)


6. They don’t use a Content Management System

While it may be a “cool thing” spending 3 days building a site from scratch or using bootstrap, a CMS could be a better and much faster option to create a professional website for your business.

Here’s an example: of popular sites that are powered by WordPress, which is a popular CMS:

  • Sony Music
  • MTV News
  • TechCrunch
  • The New Yorker

So, except you’re building a very complex site that can’t be best built with a CMS or a better software, then coding from scratch isn’t the best option.

7. They advertise their services on your site

While you may consider it to be a favour having your web developer’s company link at the footer of your site, your main concern should be how it benefits you.

If it’s a do-follow link, then you’re sure passing some link juice to their site.

Once again, how does this benefit you, especially if they offer services related to your niche?

Even if they don’t offer services related to your niche, ask yourself, would this benefit your competitors?

8. They don’t care if you win or lose

I’ve seen web developers who’re just concerned with getting paid for a project by their clients without considering the long term goals of their clients.

A web developer who has the customer’s goal at heart wouldn’t just settle for a beautiful site—as deemed by the customer— but a site that’s built to perform well in search engines and convert leads.

loss image

Source: 401(K) 2012 (Flickr)

9. They try to keep you…without offering much in return

Just recently, I met a potential client who came for my Inbound Marketing services. He told me he paid his web developers about $1000 to develop his website, and pays about $80 every month.

The site wasn’t built with the help of a CMS even though that would’ve been a much better option.

The man didn’t even know who hosts his site and much more.

I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news nor close someone’s funding source, but I give a few hints to enable him to make the best decision.

10. They’re not transparent enough

Transparency is very important when it comes to your relationship with your web developer.

The sad thing is some web developers are not transparent enough because:

  • They want you to keep making money off you
  • They want to lock you in with them forever

You web developer should always keep you updated with what they’re doing on your website which can enable you to easily track his/her work.

He/she should explicitly make it clear what services your money gives you.

They should answer questions like:

Does paying them means you get direct access to your hosting provider?

And so forth.

11. They bill you for worthless services

I’ve seen people pay their developers for services that are just worthless or could be easily done by an in-house staff at the click of a button.

worthless image

Source: Erik Mauer (Flickr)

12. They take too long to complete your project

While this may be due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ve seen situations where it was done intentionally.

A few years ago, I heard a web developer bragging about how he charged a huge sum of money and waited a few weeks to complete a project he could’ve easily completed in one day by just changing a few lines of code. According, to him, he did this so the customer would feel the wait was due to the difficulty of the task, hence the money paid was worth it.

Sounds good?

Let’s be honest, the correct answer is no.

13. They promise to complete your project in no time

The depth of your project will determine how long it will take to be completed. But sometimes, some developers give a said time that just sounds too good to be true.

Sometimes, they end up not living up to their promise or struggle to fulfil their promise with a shabby result which ends up affecting you.

14. They take advantage of your naivety

It’s always good to go into any deal knowing—at least—something about the topic/project in question. Otherwise, you stand a high chance of getting ripped off.

Many times I’ve seen smart people pay huge sums of cash to their developer for obscure services out of ignorance.


15. They don’t give you access to everything on the site

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tech geek or not, it’s your site, you should have full access to it, except you choose otherwise.

This includes access to the admin and hosting areas.

locked out image

Source: Watchcaddy (Flickr)

16. They promise to complete a feature later…after getting paid

I’ve seen web developers who submit their projects to their clients with a few glitches. They promise to complete the glitches, but end up never doing that after they’re paid.

17. They’re don’t tell you who your hosting provider is

This is usually the case if your web developer is a reseller. So if something happens to your provider, it’d be likely hard to know what happened or seek quick support.

18. They don’t sign a formal agreement

Having a contract clearly spells out with the web developer or designer has to do, and exactly how much they’re agreed to do it. This is meant to protect you as well as the developer or designer.

19. They recommend expensive services to you…to make more money off you

Now most web developers or designers have affiliations with other companies. Their duty is to refer clients to these companies in other to make some commission (affiliate marketing). So it makes sense if they want these services to be priced on the high end.

20. They don’t ask questions

It’s the duty of your web developer to ask deep questions before they start working on your project. This would help give them a feel of what you want and hence a better chance at creating something awesome for you.

Here’re some questions you should be expecting from your web developer:

  • What are your primary and secondary goals for your website?
  • Who is your target audience(local, national and global)?
  • Describe your typical client.
  • Who are your online and offline competitors?
  • Do you have brand guidelines?
  • Do you have a content writer available?
  • What kind of assets will you provide? (photo, videos, images, brochures)

If your web developer doesn’t ask meaningful questions, then consider it a red flag.




We live in an imperfect world, filled with humans driven by the desire to make money to survive. Your web developer should be able to make good money off you…but make sure the service he/she offers is worth it.


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *