photo: song of style
A few years ago I came up with an idea to create a platform that would connect singers to songwriters. As an artist myself, I felt that there was a huge gap in the market for this type of network.
So when my local business center suggested a web design company that ‘specialized’ in social media platforms, I leapt at the opportunity to work with them.
I met with a guy from the company called ‘Paul’ who knew EVERYTHING about web design. Every meeting was inspirational and he seemed like a genuine guy. He even suggested that he would sign an NDA to protect the privacy of my business.
Before asking me to make an initial payment, ‘Paul’ showed me the first few designs of the platform. It looked okay, but I was more impressed with the quick turnaround, so I transferred 2.5k, as he requested.
A month or so later, he asked for the second instalment, another 2.5k to cover the security of the platform, the hosting, the programming and more design work.
At this point, I started to worry that the platform was costing too much and I hadn’t seen any updates since the initial design. But ‘Paul’ assured me that the hard work was going on behind the scenes, with all the programming stuff that I didn’t really understand.
During this time, ‘Paul’ attended meetings with me and even acted as my mentor when I needed business advice.
Which led quite nicely to the third and fourth instalments – bringing my total to £8,000. From this point, I was calling ‘Paul’ almost every day for updates. Slowly, he began to miss my calls – regularly and then all the time. Shortly after, I couldn’t even get through to him over email. Then his phone got disconnected. Then his website went down. I couldn’t find him anywhere. I had no contact with his ‘team’ and didn’t know their business address.
I spent £8,000 and seven months working on a project that was never delivered. Devastated. So devastated. I just couldn’t believe what had happened.
This situation taught me a lot about project management and I’m keen to share it with new start-ups. If you’re about to hire a web company for your business, blog or personal project, please please consider these really important things:
#1 Do some background research on the company + create a contract
Search for the company website, examples of previous work and testimonials. Make sure if you create a contract it outlines what’s expected from both parties just to protect you from any scams or unexpected things.
#2 Put together a project brief and milestones that correlate with the payment schedule
This will help you map out the vision for your project. You can get a template online. This will ensure that you don’t pay any money until you’ve received what you expected from the previous milestone.
#3 Establish a budget
Do some research about what you can get for your money. If they’re asking for something that isn’t typical of the industry, you should be wary.
#4 Know what you want & what you need
Find as many examples as possible of the type of website you’re after. Research the man-power required for your project; do you really need a programmer or just a web designer? Get to know who’s on your team and why.
#5 Buy your own domain and hosting
But request some advice about the amount of space you need for hosting after speaking to your web company.
#6 Listen to your gut
If something about the company doesn’t feel right, keep your options open. What I learned from my situation has helped me to take more control of my work. Ironically, I’m now married to a web designer so there’s no chance of me being stung ever again!
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