If their website passes the simple tests, then do a little checking up on their business.
1. How long has the web developer or website designer been in business? In Florida you can check the status of the corporation on Sunbiz.org. It may not tell the full story but you can check the name and see when it was incorporated. You can also tell by checking some of the sites on his or her portfolio.
Sure there are some new web designers in the business who deserve a chance, just remember it is your business they are learning on. If your business needs a simple site simply for validation that you are in business, then perhaps that is ok. But if your business and reputation rely on a quality image and you need customers and prospects to call you based on your website, then we would urge you to hire a professional.
2. What is their address and office situation. A lot of one man shops work from home, and they do good work. We have an office, yes, a real office, although most of our staff works from home. But does the website designer you are looking at post an office address on their homepage? Perhaps with a suite number? Maybe google that address and see what comes up. It is amazing how many will be a Mailboxes,etc or a UPS store address and they are hiding behind. In today’s world, a home address is normally findable, I do not see the point in a service business hiding their home address.
3. Check their business phone number. Do they have a professional voicemail. Do they answer the phone professionally? Many fly by night or one and done web guys use their cell phone and do not invest in an office line. If they do not invest the few $$ in having an office phone number, what makes you think they will invest the extra time in building you a quality website.
4. How widespread is their business? Do they have customers all over the State, or US, or World? Are they only doing business with a few customers locally? Sure the small startups tend to stick to their comfort zone and local area, but if all their customers are local are they just friends and family who took a chance?
5. What is their business name? Do they change their name a lot? Many website scammers will change their business name in an effort to avoid the bad reviews. Are they old websites from their other businesses still up or are they down. We have changed our name a few times in 23 years of building websites as our focus and direction has adjusted with the business model. That can be normal. All of our old site names will are up and point to our main website or our older websites are also up and link to our new business name. There is one local web designer who has changed his name at least 4 times that I know of and all of the old sites are down. Those old sites also have a ton of bad reviews. He of course is still active in the area and still doing bad work and taking large deposits. Sad. Of course his BNI and facebook friends refer him to his next victims all the time.
Remember these are just a few things to check out. It does not mean do not do business with them, but be careful. These things are items we see from disgruntled business owners who call on us weekly to fix their websites or finish their websites that they paid good money for but didn’t get what they paid for.