Beware of designers bearing gifts

Posted on August 10, 2009


Virgil wrote in his Aeneid, a tale of the founding of Rome by the Trojan prince Aeneus, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’.

“Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.”
Virgil’s Aeneid

It was of course a reference to the Trojan Horse, which was given by the Greek army as a gift to the Trojans at the end of the Trojan war, but instead of being a peace offering it was in fact a ruse to sneak the Greek soldiers inside the otherwise impenetrable walls of Troy.

How does this relate to designers?

Well, website designs can be expensive, depending on which company you use, how much experience they have and often who you, the client, are. Some designers, website or print, offer free designs for websites as an accompaniment to their other services. It’s sort of like an introductory offer, whereby you get a free website in exchange for using them on other projects such as print work, brochures, stationery etc.

However, just what is a free website worth, especially when it comes from a print designer?

Do print designers understand the complexities of SEO? Do they understand the term ‘below the fold’, know the importance of a consistent navigation or even the first thing about usability?

The chances are that the answer to these questions, and many more besides, is no. Therefore a free website from a print designer, despite the ‘savings’ you’ll make on having one, will cost you more in the long run in lost revenue and custom.

As SEO experts we get to see a lot of different websites, some excellent and some that may as well have come out of a cracker. A website needs to work, it needs to function and it needs to be found. It’s very easy to ‘design’ a website, but to design a website that works takes experience and knowledge.

Before you accept any free gifts from designers, or even hire a website designer, look at their portfolio and check that the websites they have designed actually function as websites, and more importantly can be found in Google.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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