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Why the lack of industry standards makes the Real Life Digital team mad!

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As a web development company all too often the Real Life Digital team speak to potential clients who have been ‘scarred’ by their experience with other providers in our industry.

They regale us with tales of broken promises, websites that don’t deliver and being held hostage to a developer because their site has been built in a way that only the original developer understands.

They share horror stories of vast sums of money being paid for projects to large, well-known web development agencies who, after all’s said and done, haven’t delivered the functionality the client’s business requires.

In all honesty, this makes everyone at Real Life Digital pretty angry. This is the kind of behaviour that makes it harder for all of us to do business and gives our corner of the IT world a terrible reputation.

Buyer Beware

Whatever the size of your business, your website is likely to constitute a sizeable investment from your marketing budget. So, when you commit time and resources to commissioning your first site, or revamping your existing one, you want to feel secure that you are working with a company you can trust and rely on.

In a time when so many activities are closely regulated and subject to scrutiny, it’s difficult to understand that there is still so little regulation within the IT sector. Whilst there is a range of national and international standards for governing IT security, direct governance for those on the design and development end of the process is less stringent. That said, regulation would be burdensome, costly and could potentially be prohibitive for freelance developers to stay in business at all. In turn, this would mean some businesses may not be able to access web developers at all.

As a result of the low barrier to entry, there is very little to prevent companies using advanced marketing techniques in order to portray themselves as “experts in web development”. The onus is on the client to check the competency of their chosen provider.

At first, maybe that doesn’t sound too alarming. After all, many of us take a ‘Buyer Beware’ approach to most significant decisions in business and in life. However, don’t we all also seek experts when the purchase we need to make is something outside our personal area of expertise? A collective appetite for self-regulation and customer education would go a long way to helping customers though.

The chances are, if you’re not running a tech company with an in-house web development expert, you have gone to the market to procure the expert skills you, and your business, lack. It’s likely you’ve undertaken an element of due diligence – perhaps seeking recommendations, reading reviews and holding interviews. But ultimately, at some point, you make the decision to engage a supplier who has convinced you they are sufficiently competent to meet your requirements.

On this basis, let’s stop and have a think about the implications if that supplier subsequently fails to deliver a functional and effective website.

  • You will have spent money, time and resources with nothing to show for it.
  • It’s likely that you won’t have had the technical expertise to robustly challenge the project progress or updates the developer was giving you.
  • You have an ineffective website that doesn’t support your business objectives.
  • You risk having a site which has security weaknesses and exposes your clients, and your own business, to significant data breaches.
  • All the above leads to catastrophic reputational damage.

There must be a better way

It’s easy for me to write about the dangers of choosing the wrong web developer. However, you are probably wondering what makes Real Life Digital different?

The values on which the business was founded are what makes Real Life Digital different to our counterparts. From our very inception (you can read the full story here) the purpose of the business was to bridge the gap between people and technology.

In the spirit of helping to raise standards and educate potential customers, here are the things we believe combine to make a fantastic experience of the web-development process.

Continuity of care

A well-established business should be able to demonstrate stability in their workforce. That matters because staff changes will affect the ongoing maintenance of your website, and ultimately, its longevity. If you’re working with a company whose staff change frequently, there will never be a consistent point of contact who knows your business and your website in the level of details they should.

Privacy by design

If you're collecting any personally identifiable information on your website, it's important to ensure that your web developer understands (and can advise you on) privacy best practices. You should feel confident that all personal information is correctly handled and that risks to your business are greatly minimised. This doesn't have to be daunting. Your chosen web developer should be able to help you on your journey to privacy compliance - and make sure that it stands up to external scrutiny.

Longevity of your site

Don’t be misled into thinking you need to have a new site built every three to five years. Of course, technology is evolving and there are always new trends, but a worthy developer will build you a site that has the capacity to grow and develop in line with your business. You don’t have the time for a full rebuild two or three times in every decade!

Service level agreements

In our opinion walking away from a client soon after a new site goes live doesn’t bode well in the event things go wrong. Far from being a launch and run organisation, the Real Life Digital team build sites with the expectation that we will be maintaining them and keeping them functional long into the future. Imagine the peace of mind that you would feel to not even know something has gone wrong until it’s already been fixed.

Industry leaders

When you work with an industry leading company you experience the security of knowing your project, and later the ongoing functionality of your website, is in the best possible hands.

Exemplary levels of customer satisfaction

In fact, in our opinion the web developer should feel like an extension of your own team. When you consider that your website plays a pivotal role in how you deliver goods or services to your clients you need to be working with a developer who doesn’t over-complicate things for you or your client. Your user experience should be positively seamless, and any complex matters should be conveyed in ways that make sense to you, not in technical terms that leave you floundering and confused.

Follow these links, you can read more about developing your briefchoosing your web developer and avoiding common pitfalls. In addition to the tips in all of these articles, my golden rule is always listening to your gut instinct. That funny little feeling that you can’t quite define but makes you feel uneasy is a pretty good indicator that you may not, yet, have found the perfect partner for your web project.

If you’re looking for a partner you can trust and rely on to work as an extension of your business, click here to get started by arranging your initial, no obligation consultation now. Find out how we will take the stress out of your website project.

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Barry Fisher - Director

Written by

Barry Fisher

Technical Director

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