I hate to say it but this is not one of my proudest moments but I think that you can learn from it and that you will be able to avoid some of the mistakes that I have made. This post is all about why you should choose outsourced web designers carefully.
As some of you already know, this site had a change in layout about six weeks ago. I’ve made a few modifications to the theme but most of it is still the free standard that I downloaded. Free themes are great but I’ve found, that most of the time they leave room for improvement that’ll make them fit the particular blog even more.
That is also the case with this blog and I had therefore created a rather long list of things that I wanted to change to improve the usability of the blog.
I am a big believer of finding freelancers at www.elance.com and I have had great success in finding ghostwriter for a lot of different projects. But unfortunately my “luck” stops there. When it comes to web designers I have already hired two and have had to cancel both of the projects (actually the last one is currently being canceled).
Both design teams have been from India (they have the best prices) and before we started the projects everything seemed to be okay. The first team was going to design a new theme from scratch and after having created a nice design jpg-file the coding started.
The reason I mention this is that editing pictures are a whole lot easier than creating a wordpress theme (I’m sure!!) and both of the teams have failed when they were to go from picture to theme creation.
I had to cancel the first project after having spent several hours commenting on what I wanted and doing several revisions. After doing the first 2-3 revisions I had the feeling that things were definitely not on track. After we came to an “agreement” and the project was canceled I set out to find a free theme (which I did).
My hopes were that modifying a theme would be a lot easier than creating a new theme from scratch. Again I went to Elance to look for someone capable of doing the design modifications and I found a team that sounded like they were up for the job.
Things when from bad to worse
Again the jpg-version of the redesign looked great but as soon as the coding started I could see that they simply weren’t skilled enough. Every time they sent me a new version for review I spent hours commenting to get everything right. Then when the next version came they had done about 50% of what I had asked while creating a few new errors.
This went on for several revisions until I finally had had it. I simply couldn’t spend any more time on not getting anywhere. Especially because we hadn’t even gotten to the tricky part of the build in functionality of different plugins that I wanted. So I canceled the project and I am waiting for the escrow amount to be repaid.
Banned and duplicate content issues
Now, if that wasn’t enough I came to see that my Analytics account were showing some strange stats. The design team had had a copy of my database to help me see how it would look with “live” data. As these guys were supposed to be professionals I didn’t care to check (or ask) whether they had made sure that my content weren’t going to be indexed at their site with the possibility of duplicate content issues. Let’s just say that I should have either checked or asked!!
Finally to top things the domain on which they were hosting the test blog had been banned from Google (grey google PR bar but having 1,800 pages indexed…) and was now carrying all my data. I should have known better than to just trust them. ALWAYS CHECK. I immediately asked them to instantly delete my database from their site (which they did).
To be fair to the team, I have to say that if they agree to cancel the project, they have been very reasonable. They have spent a lot of time working on this project but just haven’t been doing what they were supposed to do.
To be completely honest I don’t know. I’ve been in contact with a professional (American) theme designer but his fees started at $1,600 which I found to be a little more than I wanted to spend on this blog (at this point).
If you know of a GREAT (talented/skilled) wordpress blog designer that has fair prices, then I would really like to get to know her/him. Please either reply in the comments or send me an email to let me know. Thanks.