How to Tell if Your Web Design Agency Is Overcharging You

These days, a business’s success depends heavily on its web presence. One could easily make the point that having a good website is the deciding factor in getting those sales, or acquiring new clients. But, what happens when you don’t get a quality website for your cash?

Gloria Bakočević

-  6 min read

Getting a website made isn’t very difficult. What is fairly difficult is discerning the quality of a web design agency before working with them. However, there are a few distinct warning signs that you can recognize and maybe the warning you need to consider before going into business with that web design agency.

No Clearly Defined Budget for Your Project

All agencies and freelancers alike should have, at the very least, a loose budget to work with and guide the web design and development process. If the budget is too low, then the work usually can’t get done at the level you might have wanted. However, if the budget is too high, this is also a big warning sign that they may be overcharging you. If you’re not sure whether they’re over or under budgeting, then you should consider the features you’ve discussed with the web designers and do a web search to determine if this is relatively close to the budget proposed for your project.

Services Keep Being Added to Budget

In most cases, budgets will grow over the course of completing your project, and that is usually fine. But, there are some cases when the budget never stops growing, and services or features keep being added to your project, and this is a clear indication that you’re being upsold without your consent. A good way to avoid this is to be very clear at the beginning of the project (during the proposal stage) what you want and what your desired outcomes are. If they can’t keep the budget at a reasonable level, that’s your sign to avoid them.

They Charge More than Their Competitors… For No Clear Reason

Most web design and development agencies will have some form of price listed for their services on their website. If not, you can always request them via email or phone call. However, if the prices are considerably higher or lower than their competitors, then this may be a sign that something is fishy. Of course, there is always a chance that their prices are justified based on the quality of their work, or the detail and customization of the website’s backend code, but it is best to question this. If a web designer is worth their salt, then they’ll be more than happy to give their reasoning regarding the cost of your website.

Don’t Divulge Specifics of Your Website

As the owner of the website you are commissioning from a web design and development agency, it is your right to know what is going on in the website backend. This means divulging specifics of the code and how it enacts what you wanted in regard to front-end features and systems. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should go overboard and ask what each line of code means, but rather a general overview of the specifics based on your knowledge level.

If a web design agency does not go over the details regarding your website and the features or functions that will be implemented in the creation process, that is generally concerning. They don’t need to go into excessive detail, as a decent 70%+ of the information they could divulge with you would go straight over your head, but if they refuse to divulge any details, that’s likely going to be your sign to back out of the project as quickly as possible. Withholding details and keeping the client uninformed are blaring warnings.

They Never Show You Mockups or Prototypes of Your Website

One thing that may seem innocuous at first, but could signal an underlying issue, is if the web designers and developers never show you any form of mockup or prototype before diving straight into the project. Good web designers have mockups upon mockups and even prototypes of the website that they could easily show you–as, along the path toward completing your project, it’s necessary to have mockups and prototypes usually created for internal (web design agency) use. It’s fairly normal and simple to share the design mockups or prototypes with the client (yourself), so don’t feel afraid to ask. If they don’t allow it, that’s another red flag to avoid them and not proceed with their proposal.

You Don’t Have Administrator Access to Your Website

If your project is completed and paid, and you didn’t ask for the web design agency to handle post-production handling of the website, but they haven’t given you administrator access to your website, that’s concerning. Maybe they forgot to give you the login details, or maybe they intended to bail out at the last minute, holding your precious new website hostage, but that’s unlikely. It could be that this is an indicator that they weren’t to schedule, or, that they know the website isn’t up to your standards on the backend features side of the website. Always be sure they allow you Admin access to your own website.

The Design and Functionality of the Website Looks Pre-Made (A Template)

These days, web design agencies that use templates and charge little to nothing for their services are a dime a dozen. It’s a fairly common occurrence for low-skilled to mid-skilled web designers to recolor and redesign a pre-made template for your web design project. However, if you’re looking for something more unique and optimized to your desires, a pre-made template is not the way to go. Additionally, pre-made templates cost very little to purchase and implement yourself, so it’s better to pay a freelancer for that if you wish to use a template for your website design project.

Analytics Reports Are Not Clearly Explained

If you happened to sign a contract with a web design agency that extended to the post-launch handling of your websites, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your site’s pages or blog posting, you deserve to get regular analytics reports. Additionally, the reports should be written or broken down in a way that makes it easy for you to understand, as you’re the owner of the site in the first place. If analytics reports are messy, convoluted or in their “raw” unedited form, that’s a potential sign that they’re not getting the results you desire, and they wish to obfuscate that.

Hire a Web Design Agency on TDA!

The best way to avoid all these issues related to web design agencies overcharging and underdelivering is to hire a web design agency on TDA to help redesign and implement your website. Or, if you’d like to learn more about web design, consider reading this article on 3 Web Design Projects That Agencies Will Line Up To Get.

Sign up for the TDA Insider

Become a subscriber to our monthly newsletter to keep up with the latest TDA news.

About TDA

At TDA, we are building the best, most comprehensive digital service acquisition platform in the world. Get to know the people powering digital transformation around the globe.

Learn more

Become a part of TDA

Looking for a job? If you like what we are doing and want to become a part of our team, check out the currently available positions and apply.

Join our team