4 Things we hate about web agencies

You’ve probably heard us talk about why we started Sox; we wanted to help those who often get overlooked. I.e. the small guys who need a more personable, down-to-earth service, without all the sales BS, the jargon, or the ludicrous price tags. If you’ve spoken with Heather, you’ve probably also heard her talk about some of our pet peeves about the industry and where many drop the ball. So we thought we’d have a good ol’ rant about 4 things we hate about web agencies. 

As a disclaimer, we’re not making this as a sweeping statement, we know not everyone is like this. But, in our experience, many people have encountered one (or more) of these when dealing with our industry – and it properly winds us up.

Poor communication

Sox prides itself on prompt communication. Even if we can’t get back to you with answers right away, we’ll always at least acknowledge you and let you know you’ve been heard. But, like that dodgy tradesman we all know, many agencies will just let your email sit in their inbox for weeks without getting back to you. If you try calling then they never answer, and good luck getting a call back. 

We both have a bee in our bonnet about this one, but it especially grinds Heather’s gears. Communication is key, getting back to people promptly is crucial to maintaining good relationships but it’s so hard for lots of agencies and developers to get this right. It’s so bleddy basic guys, c’mon!!

Inflated prices

Pricing up services is a difficult thing. There are libraries worth of books on this subject. There’s no one size fits all, because every project is different. Over time though, like all service providers, you should have a good understanding of how long it takes to deliver on your contracts. You get a good feel for the size of projects, what’s involved, and where the sticking points are. 

What we hate to see are agencies who talk to someone and just get dollar signs in their eyes. They see opportunities to jack up prices just because they think they can get away with it. Keep an eye open for hosting and maintenance costs, we’ve seen so many people get stung with this one (the worst one to date is £700 a month – that’s not a typo – for hosting and maintenance). Agencies may price your initial site low, to try and sting you with a high monthly cost. 

We also not big fans of “we charge X amount per day” – often followed by a failure to either:

  1. Give an estimate of how many days it’s going to take
  2. Actually stick to the number of days they said it’s going to take and / or inform their client when it looks like it’s going off-track

This links back to communication again – who’s got endless buckets of money to throw at a website? We do websites for a living, and we don’t have buckets to throw at websites! Having a day rate is fine for those convoluted projects, but if it’s a simple build then, really, it should be fixed price. If it’s not possible to do a fixed price, then these agencies should be communicating better when it looks like the project is derailing. Don’t just smack people with an invoice that’s twice the size they were expecting at the end of the project!

Needless complexity

Graham’s absolute top-tier, most-hated thing to come across is needless complexity. If you can get 80% of the value you need out of a simple solution then you should always take that option, even if it isn’t an absolute perfect fit. Going for a solution that’s all singing, all dancing, and ludicrously over the top, is asking for trouble. 

We see this all the time. Sites bloated with plugins, premium themes bloated with features to cater to everyone (this is a real problem), confusing site structures, custom WordPress admin views (why do people do this?! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!), and custom plugins. The list goes on.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Never use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Pick a simple solution that is close to what you need, without incurring a massive overhead somewhere else. This is Graham’s guiding principle when it comes to building the foundations of any site. It must be maintainable and easy to work with.

It’s a website. Not bleddy brain surgery. 

Lack of commitment 

Our last pet peeve in 4 things we hate about web agencies is a biggie. So many agencies are quick to take your money, get you done and dusted, and out the door. If you’re not paying them anything (or not paying them enough), then you’re of no interest to them. They never reach out, they rarely answer your emails, and they’re not interested in helping you because you’re not chargeable.

It costs nothing to check in with someone to see how they’re getting on. Taking 10 minutes to answer a couple of questions could make someone’s life so much easier. A 5-minute job here or there could make someone’s day. Especially when they’re small businesses, like the guys we tend to work with.

Supporting your customers once they’ve spent their money with you is so important. Building positive working relationships is the name of the game, and so many agencies miss this. 

Rant over.

The list goes on of course, but these are our top 4 things we hate about web agencies when we think about it. Sox was built on our natural inclination to not be shit. It is that simple. If you’re ever stuck on what to do, just “don’t be shit”. 

If you’re doing any of these things we’ve just ranted about, then you’re probably being shit and you should stop. 

If you’re reading this and it’s touching a nerve (perhaps this reminds you of your current web guys) reach out to us, have a chat, get some free advice, and understand what you can do to make your life easier. We don’t charge for that. Because helping people is more important than making a quick buck. 

Want to know more about our free advice offer? Check out our earlier blog on it here.