A Web Design Nightmare

Brendan Egan

A Web Design Nightmare

A few days ago I received a consultation request via our website for local as well as possibly national SEO.  After 2 follow up calls I finally was able to reach the business owner to discuss her website, market niche, and what our strategy for SEO would be.  She sounded extremely interested and was ready to get started with SEO–until we discovered a web design nightmare.
Now anyone who follows this blog knows how much I hate web design nightmares (or anything that wakes me up at night for that matter) but this nightmare had a few firsts for me.  The story behind the actual website isn’t new–“We paid a neighbor who knows a thing or two about web design to help him out and after 4 months our site still isn’t complete” type of thing.  But add to this a very, very basic website and the fact that the one dynamic part of the site (the very basic client management system) was custom coded by hand–in fact the entire site was coded by hand and used some very outdated coding.  The site was missing a lot of basic coding elements like meta information, headers, proper permalinks/URLs, and other pieces of coding that are not only beneficial to the website visitor, but are critical to SEO.
So I began to explain to the company owner that to move forward with SEO we would be saving money in the long run if we just went ahead and properly redesigned the website.  I figured just by looking at the site they had paid somewhere between $200 and $350 to have their neighbor design it but this is when I was in for a surprise–they had spent over $1,500 on the site!!!  I was dumbfounded to say the least because all we would have charged to build the site the right way from the get go would have been $697 and we’re a professional web design company!
But now the story got a bit more interesting.  I noticed that the pages were loading slowly–and I don’t mean a little slow I mean so slow that someone in my office asked “Hey Brendan–when did you switch back to a dialup connection?” — that’s how slow they were loading.  I was trying to figure out why and then the business owner mentioned that the same “Web Designer” (And I use that with quotes because I really don’t think this was any web designer) built them a custom server in their house to host the website.  Why in the world would anyone spend money building a custom server when there’s free web hosting out there or paid hosting starting at as low as $3/month!
But then things got even better when I found out the forms used to accept client credit cards were just basic forms with no SSL encryption–this means that anytime someone submits their credit card it could VERY easily be stolen over the internet since the data is not encrypted at all.
I could keep going on and on and on but I finally told the owner that before we do SEO we really need to fix this website.  There were numerous other issues on the site, but I won’t get into all the little details because I could nearly write a book.  Like I mentioned this isn’t the first, isn’t the worst, and unfortunately won’t be the last time I have to see this type of terrible web design.  Honestly it’s the one part of my job I hate–telling a business owner who thinks they got the best thing in the world as far as SEO or web design that whoever they worked with flat out ripped them off.  But it’s a reality of today’s world and the important thing is this business owner is now on the path to pulling together her finances and more than likely becoming a client of ours both for web design and SEO.  And we’re going to make sure every little detail of her site and SEO are done properly the first time.