If you have ever worked with a development agency, you might have noticed, they are not perfect. But no one is and everyone makes mistakes. Web development agencies are not an exception.
However, it is a bit different for development houses because, as technology evolves – and it is an industry that is evolving more rapidly than most industries – they are the first ones to master a very crucial skill, the ability to adapt fast to these changes.
For business owners, it is no longer a question of whether you should have a strong online presence. However, you might think the process of building a website for your business is an easy thing to do.
But is it really?
For a “simple” CMS website – that is populated mostly with images, videos, and text – you still need to consider designs, layout, features and functionality, mobile responsiveness, mobile compatibility, user flow, technical and content SEO, structure, database designs, and the list goes on.
This is why it is highly recommended that even in “simple” situations like this having a wide-ranging team of people that is able to manage everything in-house is the best way to go. And this is where web development agencies come into the place.
But as we pointed out time and time again, you need to carefully choose a web development company that not only meets your needs but is also compatible with you and your business.
And in this article, we are going to discuss some of the most prominent mistakes a web development agency does so that you are both prepared and aware, and possibly avoid them before thay become a problem for your project.
Let’s dive in!
12 Common Mistakes a Web Development Agency Makes
1. Chaotic decision-making
When it comes to making decisions during the project, setting boundaries and rules is an important thing to do. Just imagine a situation where you and your web development team argue for hours about where to place a simple button on a website.
This trivial argument might will to very long meetings, which is not only ineffective but also extremely time-consuming. And it is not always the development house’s fault for wasting this time. Their objective is to give you, as their client, what you want but also provide you with the solution that you need.
However, not all web development agencies have mastered the art of saying “no” to your requests and changes. This doesn’t mean that they are not a good development house, but instead, they are too nice. And you might think “well, how is this a problem?”
Consider this – you are midway into your project, you have just started testing some parts of your website and you have the idea to completely change a call-to-action button. From your position, it’s simple, it’s just a button. But from their perspective, they need to:
- Redesign the button (style, colors, fonts, etc.);
- Replace the button everywhere on your platform (manually check every single page and popup of your platform to make sure they didn’t miss anything)
- Fix (again) alignment and responsiveness, and…
- Re-test the entire user flow to make sure that change did not break anything.
2. When the trust level is beyond the reason
It is not really unusual that some companies tend to rely on agreements based on just verbal or email communication. But, having a contract makes it clear for both sides – for you as the client, so you know what to expect from the agency, and for the web development agency so they know what to deliver.
Moreover, the benefit of contracts does not lie just in knowing what to expect and what should be delivered, it also has a protective purpose. Everything is fun and games until something happens. You might think you agreed on something, but there was a miscommunication and the agency delivered the opposite. Without a clear contract, neither of you are right.
Are you ready to risk the future of your project by “saving” an hour on discussing and agreeing on a contract?
3. The final design is not systematic and effective.
Setting aside all the technical aspects that a web development agency deals with, this point is about the final web design.
It is perhaps one of the worst scenarios when the outcome does not meet your expectations. The elements are not aligned, the site is not quite responsive, and the overall appearance of the platform gives a chaotic impression. Or, the user is forced to scroll into infinity to find the searched piece of information.
This mistake is made when either the initial designs were made without thinking about user experience, or the agency allowed too many scope changes throughout the project. And the best way to avoid this is to have your initial designs tested by focus groups, and, when you introduce changes to your scope, keep UX in mind – how will it affect the user flow?
4. Being too general.
Nowadays, details are what allow companies to differentiate themselves and stand out from the competition. Therefore an approach that web development agency has towards their clients plays a role.
Working with a web development agency that does not adapt to a client’s specific needs might be a risky position to be in.
However, what also needs to be taken into consideration here is how the requirements and details are communicated from your perspective. Saying “I want a website like that one” might lead the development team into copying another website while thinking that is what you actually want.
Needless to say, this hiccup always happens because of miscommunication, so you want to make sure the web development agency understands your needs and that they provide you with a unque solution.
5. Slow response to changes
We live in a fast-paced world where being able to adapt quickly to change is a necessity. And, fast response to changes that emerge along the way is undeniably one of the characteristic traits of a powerful web development agency. Agile development companies are especially skilled in this area, as the whole methodology is based on flexibility and adaptability.
However, even agile development houses sometimes struggle with change, and stubbornly keep with their own way of doing things – like refusing to adopt new technologies, or use new tools. This does not mean they are not a very capable development house, it simply means that they might not be the best match for your needs.
You could compare this with companies who refuse to move away from legacy systems – they know there is a new, maybe better way of doing things, but the shift itself involves a lot of investment, time, and financial, and it’s simply easier for everyone involved to keep with the old ways.
6. Using fixed prices rather than price estimates.
Agile development is flexible and encourages scope change. And you, as a project owner, will inevitably bring scope changes into your project as they might raise the end value of your projec, without considering that these changes will impact the costs of your project as well as deadlines.
Fearing a bad response from you, many agencies, especially small development houses will be tempted to provide you with a fixed cost instead of an estimation and stick with it, even when you introduce changes.
This phenomenon is bad for your end results for two reasons:
- The agency is now forced to work more for the same amount of money, so they cannot afford to invest in training their developers and improve their skills;
- The quality of your project will also probably decline significantly as the developers scramble to finish more tasks in the same amount of time.
7. The website is not mobile compatible
Mobile compatibility facts:
- Google crawlers only index the mobile version of websites to enforce the Mobile-First rule;
- More than half of internet users come from mobile devices;
- It takes a mobile user 1s on average to decide if a website is worth their time, and this is mostly decided by how fast your platform loads.
That said, there are still plenty of web development agencies that do not develop their websites following the mobile-first rule, and as a result, their final products are not always the most mobile compatible.
Mind you, mobile compatibility is more than just having a mobile responsive website – mobile compatible websites are responsive, fast, and look great on every device. So when you hire a web development agency, make sure they work with mobile-first.
8. Forgetting about their own website.
When you think about the website of a development agency, you expect something out of this world, right? They have the tools and the people to build the most amazing website possible. But how many times have you landed on the homepage of a development agency and you were kind of disappointed?
It’s like the old saying about how the good barber always has the worst hair, and this happens more than we – web development agencies in general – would like. But, working on several projects at the same time often takes away the time and resources needed for us to focus on our own platforms.
For example, did you know that it took us several years to update our own website which was using AngularJS, a technology that was no longer supported since its second release?
Many agencies like us find themselves in this situation, simply because they prioritize your need over their own platform. So if you find yourself visiting the site of a development agency and iut doesn’t look all that great, give them a chance. They might simply be very busy.
9. Poor SEO implementation
SEO is not only about creating engaging content, it also includes technical aspects such as load times, HTML tags, or website crawlability. Yet, despite its importance, technical SEO is oftentimes left at the end of the process, when in reality, it should be implemented from the early stages.
So, when hiring a development agency, ask about their technical SEO practices:
- Is it included in the scope and estimation?
- Should you hire an SEO expert?
- What tools are they using to test their SEO effort?
10. Jumping straight into work.
Everything has its order and the process of working with a web development company has its particular sequence of steps as well. As the company becomes familiar with the client’s expectations, equally important it is to get to know one’s target audience.
Simply put, understanding the end-users is perhaps one of the most crucial steps in the beginning, as they are the people who will be using the website. And for that particular reason, this point shouldn’t be overlooked.
On top of that, knowing the target audience makes the web development agency better understand your requirements, and they can make better suggestions and adjustments to your platform to ensure that your users will be happy.
11. Favouring web design over web development and the other way around.
There might be a bit of confusion between web design and web development. So to clear that out, web designs are strictly about visuals – colors, fonts, layout. In contrast, web development is turning the designs from simple pretty pictures into a working platform.
In other words, they go hand in hand and there has to be a balance between them. You can’t have a poorly designed website with complex functionality just as much as you can have out-of-this-world designs with bad functionality.
However, many less experienced development agencies that don’t have an in-house designer or UI/UX expert do make this mistake. So, one way to avoid it is to make sure that you hire a UI/UX expert to help during the design and development phase and make sure that from start to finish your designs and functionality match your users’ needs.
12. Shifting focus on themselves
Hiring an experienced web development agency ensures a higher chance of success for your project, true. But unfortunately, some web development agencies tend to put too much emphasis on their experience and what solutions they can provide for you, and forget to actually listen to your ideas, needs, and requirements.
So keep that in mind next time you sit down with a development agency – if they do most of the talking, you will most probably not get what you want, but instead you will get what they think you need. And that is not always a good thing.
Web development agencies are, after all, formed of people and people make mistakes. But at the end of the day, most of these situations are easily avoided with proper communication and coordination.
Yes, some agencies might focus more on the development side instead of on the design part, but they might simply not have the expertise to deal with designs and they will need your help. Similarly, if their technical SEO practices are not on par, they might just need an expert to guide them.
On the other hand, if your development agency doesn’t listen to your needs or focuses too much on designs, you might need to look for an agency that matches your expectations better.
So we hope that this article will help you spot these common mistakes early on and find a solution to them before your project is in jeopardy. And if you need a second opinion or you are looking for more guidance, don’t hesitate to book a free meeting with one of our experts.
We can help you find the best solution at the most optimal price for your company, your needs, and your users’ happiness.