Website Developer Scams

WordPress is easy. If you are comfortable with Microsoft Office or Word you have all the skills you need to manage your own website with WordPress.  Don’t be taken in by the hundreds of scam Website Developers who buy or download free WordPress themes, add your graphics and text, and resell them to you as their own.Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 9.54.37 AM, Dec 31, 2015

I recently interfaced with a local web site builder.  I was hoping he could take over some of the sites that I develop for free for start ups and non-profits.  I like to turn them over to professionals once they are established or can afford it. The chief designer of this outfit, who was referred to me by a friend, pointed to his own website as an example of a site he built.

Looking into the site I found it was a stock copy of the Catch Katmandu theme with a few images added. The links he added on the site did not work properly, and the other sites he bragged about on his Facebook page were mostly inactive, or used the same Katmandu theme. Don’t get me wrong Catch Katmandu is a beautiful theme and setting it up for someone is fine, but plagiarizing it as an example of a website you built, and selling it to the unaware as your own is not cool.

He assured me he wrote hundreds of sites including some for Fortune 500 companies and for Linkedin. When I asked him for examples of his work he got angry and insulting. He refused to show me anything he did. People who are proud of their work usually don’t hide from it. I assume he wasn’t use to someone knowledgeable looking into what he was selling. The few clients of his that I could find were small local businesses and the theme he used was simple and appropriate, but nothing I would charge money for, since they had errors and broken links.

If you want a stock theme you can do it yourself. Hosting companies will help you get started. Get a host account with Godaddy, or through Webinaut for as little as $7 per month, and WordPress can be added automatically. You can download one of the thousands of free themes into WordPress, activate it and you are up and running. There are even easier hosting sites that do everything and you just drag and drop your stuff in place.  Wordpress makes it easy to add your own images and edit your own text. Creating pages is no more difficult than editing a Word document. You can be as basic or as fancy as you want as you get more experience. There are some online tutorials and books that are very helpful.   So if you just want to use an off-the-shelf theme for a simple site for your restaurant or contracting business that can show off some images than you can do it yourself for a little time and money.

If you have more complexity and need a forum, a custom theme, or an e-commerce site, or something out of the ordinary than getting experienced help is advised. However make sure they know what they are doing because it will be your public image not theirs. There are many sham artists out there. Perhaps I am cynical, but getting insulted by a snake oil salesman when you ask him for the ingredients in his products does that.

The benefit of learning it yourself is you too can be a web designer, and help your friends who may be too busy to do it themselves. If you are going to pay someone make sure they know what they are doing, and what to do when things go funny.  Ask for examples of website themes they have built, ask them exactly what they did, and check their sites to see how they work on your laptop and your phone. Any good website house will be proud to show off their portfolio.

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