How NOT to Get Scammed By a Web Designer/Developer

This page is a scammy web designer's nightmare because I am going to equip you with knowledge that will prevent you from getting had.

Hiring someone to design/create a website is one of those tasks that can go horribly wrong if you don't ask the right questions and/or hire the right person.

I'm going to keep you from making common mistakes people make when hiring someone.

Because creating a website is such a terrifying concept to many people, they end up getting taken advantage of and pay way too much!

Get Clear About What You Need

Before you even talk to anyone, jot down exactly what you need so you are prepared. The more prepared you are, the better.

Bookmark this page now and save it for reference later.

Here are some things to consider for yourself and to ask your designer...

1) Decide if you need a custom design from the ground up or if you will you use a template-based CMS like WordPress.

Custom design is a lot more expensive because it's hand-coded, custom and takes longer. However, WordPress may be all you need.

WordPress is a highly popular, template-based CMS (content management system) that can be setup in 5 minutes by someone who knows anything about setting up websites.

Many newbies do this process themselves because it's straightforward and fast! WordPress comes free with hosting.

You can read the steps to setting it all up here.

With WordPress, you can create blogs, a shopping cart, forum, membership site, and add almost any feature you can think of. WordPress works for almost any kind of site today.

The key is adding plugins to make the site function as needed. Many plugins are free and can be installed right from the WordPress dashboard.

Once your designer sets up the WordPress script on your domain name (, you login, pick a theme/design and begin adding text and pictures.

You might need some quick training on how to use it, but other than that, it's very simple.

Using WordPress is like working in a WYSIWYG editor. There is a text box and buttons above to bold, align and style text. It's much like a word processor.

It's one of the most popular choices for people who build and/or manage their own websites today.

If someone tries to charge you thousands of dollars JUST to setup a WordPress site (especially if they aren't designing a theme) then you are probably getting had.

Now if they are designing a custom theme for you and you won't be using one of the free themes that comes with WordPress, then that will cost more.

However, if you just want to choose from the thousands of free themes, then this shouldn't cost you more than $75-$200 to set everything up.

That cost may seem high too, but just understand some designers may have minimum fees for small tasks and that's totally normal. If it's anything over $200 just to setup the site (without design/custom work), I'd be skeptical.

Design and customizations are what jack up the cost, but if you use WordPress and pick your own theme, that eliminates the design piece.

Of course if you need something customized in your theme (adding a column, changing colors, etc.) then that will cost you more.

Most people do need some help customizing their theme because they never want the design right out of the box.

Charging you to customize the theme is totally understandable because that means tweaking an existing theme's code.

2) What specific features will you need? (Shopping Cart? A Forum? Contact Forms?) Write down everything. Be specific and detailed.

Again, WordPress has plugins that will create shopping carts, contact forms, forums, membership sites etc. However some may need to be configured and customized. The customization is where the fees come in.

And this is one reason why a developer may suggest they build your site from scratch. Some prefer to work with their own code instead of someone else's. WordPress themes are coded by other people and might require additional tweaking.

3) Do you need a custom logo design and is that part of the fee or separate?

Logo design usually runs anywhere from $100-$200/hr.

4) Do you need someone to do the maintenance/updates after the site is up or are you going to do it yourself? Ask about additional maintenance costs if needed?

Be very clear about this. If you need additional training on WordPress, there may be charges. But it's much better to learn the basics of WordPress yourself. It's really very easy. There are tutorials all over the web.

I even give you access to a free video if you buy your domain ( from

The video is linked from the order confirmation page.

5) Are the fees hourly or fixed?

Most web designers and developers charge an hourly fee and that's understandable. It takes time to design a site and there are often numerous changes and tweaks along the way.

Designing and creating a site from scratch also takes time so that could cost over $1,000 if it's a very skilled developer/designer.

The average cost can be $100 to $200/hr.

Custom designs and tweaking your WordPress theme are where things can get expensive.

6) Make sure the site ( and host is in YOUR name and not the designer's name!

You should be the one to register your domain yourself. That way the domain name ( is in your name.

I've heard nightmare stories of people hiring others to setup sites and then they lose track of the developer and can't edit their sites anymore.

You should always have the main passwords to your domain registrar and host. Change them when the work is done.

7) Ask them to break down their fees.

If you are quoted a blanket price of $3,000, ask them what is all involved in that? Don't be afraid to inquire. You have every right to know.

I've known people to be charged $2,000 for a 1 page website on WordPress that wasn't even customized.

This happens when people don't know anything about the setup process -- which is why I created this page!

What You Need to Build a Website

There are only 2 steps to the inital setup process of building a website: registering a domain (yoursite) and selecting a host.

Again, I recommend having them walk you through ordering these yourself so they are both in your name and you can create/save your passwords.

Domain names are paid for yearly and hosting is typically charged monthly -- although you can pay yearly for hosting too.

Your hosting account is where WordPress is managed. (The script to build and manage your site.)

So if you choose to use WordPress, you can either install the script from your hosting account, or the script may already be installed when you sign up for hosting.

So all you do is go to, login, choose a theme and begin building your site. You can also change your theme at any time (in seconds) without touching any of your content.

As you can see, I love WordPress!

Now, if you need help learning and managing WordPress, ask if the designer will help you. Again, there may be charges for this. Or you can learn online.

But as you can see, there is not much inital setup involved if you go this route.

The real work comes from having a lot of custom designs and developing from scratch. With WordPress you aren't building from scratch -- although you might need some customizations.

What If They Insist on a Custom Design?

So you tell your designer about WordPress and he/she tells you that you need a custom design instead.

Be sure to ask them why you can't use WordPress.

And if they are using another platform, how easy will it be for you to make updates?

In some cases developers prefer to work with their own code and that's understandable -- especially if it's a very custom, complex job. But just make sure they will be available to fix/help if there are issues.

Ask how much this will cost.

However, if you are just creating a simple blog or a basic website with information and pictures, you should push for WordPress. This is the standard platform for basic sites like this. And you can easily update your site yourself.

Heck, people even use WordPress to create full-fledge, complex membership sites!

The great thing about WordPress is there is a huge community of support online. If you need to learn how to do something, it's just a Google search away!

Let's Sum it Up!

1) It only takes 10 minutes to register a domain name and sign up for hosting. That's the inital setup.

Be sure to put everything in your name.

You can register your domain name and buy hosting yourself. Learn how to start here.

2) If you need a basic blog or information site with text, pictures and video WordPress works great. WordPress is provided FREE with your hosting account.

If you register your domain name and/or host with Website Palace, you get a free video on how to use WordPress.

WordPress also works for very complex sites too. Just add plugins (forums, membership sites, shopping carts, etc.)

3) The fees add up for custom work. So if you are going to have your WordPress theme edited/customized or something created from the ground up (logo, etc.) that's where things can get expensive.

4) Be sure to get the necessary training you need with whatever setup you receive. Or find out if there are maintenance fees if you need future updates/help.

Good luck! Showing you are well-informed let's designers/developers know you have done your homework.

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