Hiring a commercial real estate website design company can be a scary process.  It’s a lot of money, it’s going to be tons of work, and the time commitment from concept to finished project is intense.  The whole thing is a dice roll – you really don’t know if you’ve hired someone awful until it’s too late.  Don’t worry, I have a few tips to help sort the good from the bad.

1. Test the Websites on their Portfolio. When you’re in a website they’ve built, click on everything. Make sure the website is in working order.  Move the browser’s width from biggest to small – making sure the websites are mobile compatible.  If a website designer does not provide links to his finished websites be VERY cautious.  There’s probably a reason, such as: it never went beyond concept, the website is so old that it’s down, it’s been revitalized by a new designer, or he is too ashamed to showcase anything but the thumbnail.

2. Check out the Photography on their Website Designs. If the company’s website is full of great images and video but every one of their portfolio websites has a plain white background, company logo and black text, they’re likely going to require you provide all website images. This can be an expensive extra cost when you’re buying images for the sliders, graphics to show each industry (retail, office, medical, etc.) and place holders for your own transactions.  These charges can easily rack up to $1,000 if you’re not careful.  Make sure your website designer has a full library of stock photos and allows for a few stock photography purchases within their proposal.

3. Beware the “No Clear Pricing” Trap. If a commercial website design company is not providing clearly defined pricing structures, there is likely an arbitrary price that’s changed based on your conversation. If you’ve accidentally mentioned you’re looking at a $10k website design, they’ll quote $9k for the same design process they quoted $500 to someone else that same day.  Pricing without a clear structure can be based solely on what the company believes you will pay and not a feature = fee structure.  This kind vague pricing only helps the website design company, not their clients.

4. Run Away if there are No “follow-up” Options. If a website designer wants to design your website and not provide monthly updates or help after the fact, you need to run! 90% of the time these types of companies will provide a barely working website, drop it on your lap, and you’ll never hear from them again.  Make sure the website design company you choose offers a monthly or “as-needed” option for your website upgrades, issues, or future problems.  Websites get hacked all the time – you need a designer who can help you in an emergency.

5. Low Setup Fees can Eat Your Wallet! This is a HUGE trap! “Wow!  It’s only $300 for a website design AND they take care of my monthly updates…how come everyone else is charging so much?!”  Well…you’ll figure it out in a few months when your monthly bills for their “exclusive hosting” go from $100 to $150 to $300 a month.  Why?  Because it’s in their fine print that they get to charge you more over a given period.  I think this idea comes from the housing bubble of 2008…  Need your website revised or content redone…oh, well that’s an additional fee.  RUN AWAY!!!

Just remember, the world of commercial real estate website design is the same as anything else.  You get what you pay for.  If you’re going to use a cut-rate company, you’ll likely end up with a barely functioning website and/or an incredibly high monthly rate.  Calling for pricing can get you a website for thousands more than they quoted the guy who called 10-minutes ago.  Want to skip all this nonsense?  Consider hiring Calico Marketing for your website design!  We have a great portfolio, hundreds of photos in our library, clearly defined fee structure, you host your own website, and we provide updates either monthly or “as-needed”.  Check us out, you won’t be disappointed!