Web Designers. The Truth Behind The Magic.

In the late nineties and early naughties, web design was the fastest growing industry. The World Wide Web was booming. The demand for this new digital wizardry was huge with businesses realising they needed a website to keep up with technological advances. Everyone and his dog jumped on the bandwagon and tried to be a web designer. All of a sudden in social circles, it’s what you would always hear. “I’m a web designer”

Everyone with basic HTML skills thought they could offer a professional web design service. It’s 2017 and things haven’t really changed. As head of IT at XTrader I can’t tell you how many emails and phones calls our design office takes where the first thing we hear is, “I’m calling on behalf of one of your clients, I am a web designer and I’m trying to do X, Y or Z”

Web designers need a plethora of skills. Unfortunately its quite rare for us here in the office to have a conversation with someone who is actually fully skilled in the profession. This is always so disappointing when they are representing our potential drop ship clients.

Firstly, and most importantly. If they are a skilled web designer. They wouldn’t be calling us. Web designers should be proficient in HTML and CSS regardless of what platform or software setup you commission them to use. It’s never different, HTML is HTML or Hypertext Markup Language as it’s known. These acronyms are the magic that makes your website sing and sparkle. It’s code, but very simple code. The bottom line is if a web designer is representing and working for you and they need to call us for assistance you need to assess who you have hired.

Time after time we speak to clients after the mistake has already been made. Our drop shippers, our partners, the people who we want to do well in the industry and who we work so very hard to support are not always looked after properly by unscrupulous designers.

Are you getting the best advice?

You may already be working with us or you could be looking to use our dropship service and join the adult industry. If you are unsure if you are getting the correct advice or if you think you may already be paying way over the odds for a sub-par quality solution? Read on or call us for a chat.

We are dedicated to ensuring you get the best solution to do well and achieve the best sales going forward. We have seen it all, heard all the horror stories and with decades of experience in our IT team we will do our best to look after you.

In all honestly many clients, we speak to are experiencing a bad service and appalling advice. It could be too late and you have already paid over the odds to an underhanded so-called “Web Designer” to the sum of thousands of pounds. Don’t worry if you have, you probably still have a working solution and we can assist and support you in going forward.

This blog holds some advice and some warnings to assist you in making the right decision. It will also help you in making the break from someone who you think is offering you a poor service.

Once or twice a year I real in horror when someone tells me they have spent, 5, 8 or even 10 thousand pounds on a website solution. More often than not its during a support phone call when something isn’t working quite right. In my view when you spend £5000 on a website, Angels better be serenading you every time you log in to your administration area, orders need to be flowing thick and fast and your web designer works during the day as your butler and chauffeur. Unfortunately, this is often far from the case and you absolutely should not be paying this kind of money. Read on.

At XTrader we do not want you to pay more money than is necessary when setting up a solution. You should be aware of what is a good platform to use and the ones to avoid. So let us look at some pointers that you need to be aware of.

When speaking to a web designer the most import thing you need to decide on is the software they will use to build your site. This is the “Ecommerce” software. The software that is used to run the shopping cart system is the most important thing to get right. There are literally hundreds of Ecommerce packages available for “free” for your web designer to use. They are often written in a programming language which they may not know. Web designers are generally not programmers as well. This is irrelevant as all of these systems have an HTML template which is then designed for you once the software is installed. Your web designer doesn’t need to understand the code the software is written and coded in. He works his magic on the HTML template which is part of the software.

My first piece of advice would be:- Any web designer who says they cant work on your choice of Ecommerce package because they are not familiar with it should be avoided.

Rememberer. HTML is HTML. It’s what you pay them to code.

The XTrader dropship automation solutions (HERE) support many of the leading and most widely used Ecommerce systems available on the internet. Our automation software works with the top 5 leading systems.

All of the leading shopping carts available online have been developed in an Open Source environment and are free. This means they have been developed over many years by a community or company of highly skilled programmers who collectively, bug test, security check and advance the functionality of the code and shopping experience. The code is open so other programmers can contribute to the functionality and development of the platform either directly by bug testing or by contributing extra functionality that we can all use.

There are a couple of warning bells to watch out for with so much great free software available for you to choose from.

A) Some web design agencies will try and persuade you to use an Ecommerce package they have written themselves. This is, in my opinion, total madness. They have basically tried to reinvent the wheel and replicate something that Ecommerce software communities have spent years producing. It will add to the price as their development time will be built into any design costs. It just makes things more expensive. They have coded something from scratch rather than using one of the free market leading solutions. As your business grows, only they will know the code. The code could be encrypted so other web designers can’t help you in the future. You then have to go back to them for any features and extra functionality you may want to add to your website as your business develops. It could potentially have coding and security problems due to the low customer base and usage. Any automation and stock management systems will have to be bespoke and coded from scratch to be compatible with our solutions. £££££££. Avoid like the plague.

B) Many inexperienced, unskilled web designers will try and persuade you to use a certain platform because they are not proficient enough with HTML to work with a main stream Ecommerce package. It will not be the best solution for you. If they are not flexible. Speak to another company.

The telltale sign in spotting this is the platforms WordPress and Woocommerce. If they mention either of these, in all honesty, you will be overcharged. It will also stifle growth and be expensive to maintain. Furthermore if they are choosing to use these they are not skilled in offering you the best solution.

WordPress is a brilliant piece of software that is designed to run a blog. It’s massive. Some estimates say 1 in 3 websites use it these days. It’s a CMS. More acronyms? Yes, sorry! Content Management System. You can install extra features straight from the admin with a click of a button. Write blogs and publish them all with a click of a finger.
There is an Ecommerce add-on for WordPress called Woocommerce that turns this amazing blogging software into a very basic shopping cart system. It is very inferior, lacks functionality and is not what you want when growing a new business. Truthfully if you are offered this over anything else they are not the web design agency for you. They are offering it because its easy for them and they do not have any thought for you. You will outgrow it very quickly due to the lack of functionality it offers. Run a mile if you are offered this solution over an actual Ecommerce software platform. Ask yourself. Why would you want a blogging software package with an Ecommerce bolt on when there are hundreds of free sophisticated Ecommerce systems available that do purely what you want, Ecommerce?

Inexperienced web designers love to use Woocommerce because it needs zero technical experience to maintain and expand it. It comes with free templates that more often than not will be sold to you for thousands of pounds. They install WordPress, add the Ecommerce plugin, change some colours using a drag and drop interface, add your logo and pass this off as hard web design work when they haven’t even touched any HTML coding. You will get something that looks half decent but under the hood, your new shopping solution is a bag of spanners which will have taken them only a few hours to put together for you.

Woocommerce has additional update issues. It updates constantly due to the on going code enhancements and development to the WordPress blogging platform by the programmers who develop it. It also updates automatically whether you like it or not. What this means is you are constantly chasing your tail with template updates as code adjustments are needed to keep it working and compatible. Your web designer will be loving all the updates you will need every few weeks. ££££££

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra features are very limited in Woocommerce so development costs are high. If you want extra functionality added as your business grows it’s costly due to the poor after sales features marketplace. Out of all the shopping systems available, it has the least options available.

It is also the slowest system by far. Here are some speed test results on a product page. Speed is vital. Your customers will not hang around if your site loads slow. Google will also penalise you in its rankings due to the websites performance.

C) Magento. I will say it early ££££££££££££££££££££££££
If you are being offered this software they are already rubbing their hands together. It’s free yet it’s the most expensive, most complex ecommerce system to maintain to date. It’s also fraught with security issues and needs updating regularly to correct any new vulnerabilities that are discovered. It’s high profile usage by multi million pound companies makes it a prolific target for hackers. It is dogged with a history or major security problems. You need to be a member of Mensa to use the admin as its insanely complex and confusing. It also needs its own dedicated server to make it run at a decent speed. This means at least £100 a month to make it run as designed and good enough so your shoppers have a quality shopping experience. You can read our warnings here (Magento. It’s Good. But Very Bad)

D) You have called a Website Agency for a quote that you found at the top of Google =  Just send them a blank cheque!
Instead look for a local designer close to you, someone who works for themselves. Forget Googling “Website designers”. It’s big, big money to get an advert at the top of Google with such a broad search term. You will just end up speaking to high-end web design agencies aimed at looking after large blue chip companies. Try and find a local web designer.

By now, you are probably thinking its a minefield. I will be honest. It is. I know this because I was coding and web designing when the Internet was in its infancy. I have worked in a blue chip environment, built websites for celebrities and in the same breath looked after many new business startups, yet it still shocks me every time I speak to someone who has been massively overcharged for an awful substandard solution. Web designers can and will charge the earth like they are solicitors if you do not understand the process. Web design can turn into an awful lot of money if you go in blind. Just like a solicitor will write you a letter and charge you £200, a so called web designer will build you a WordPress site that generally won’t take them more than a day to develop and charge you £3000 if they think they can get away with it.

At XTrader, we want you to do well. If you do well, we do well. We grow as a partnership. This is the key. If you are spending time and money messing about with a bad website solution that doesn’t work for you then you are not concentrating on the important aspects of your new business. SEO, marketing and building your new brand. Stability from the outset is the key.

So What Is The Answer?
We recommend the Opencart Ecommerce platform.

Our web design team use it in-house. All of our web design solutions are built on it and we offer full automation for the software.

Its a rock solid and secure, brilliant platform with a massive community and after sales marketplace. Its compatible with synchronising to eBay and Amazon and its bursting with functionality. In the past, we have worked closely with the Opencart developers and community to iron out bugs and issues. We know it, inside out. The after sales marketplace to add additional functionality you might need in the future is massive. All supported with a thriving active community.

Furthermore, it won’t suddenly need an update and break everything you’ve worked so hard to set up like every other Ecommerce platform seems to do. Once it’s installed, the HTML template is designed for you and then you just concentrate on making sales and growing your business without having to worry about anything further.

Speak to your web designer about using Opencart or call one of our dedicated web design specialists to have a solution put together for you. You can see examples of our ready to trade solutions HERE