Things That Web Agencies Do That Annoy Me
If you ask anyone who has met me then they'll tell you that I'm notoriously hard to please when it comes to websites. After a client has paid £20,000+ then I expect a high quality website designed to convert and generate sales, enquiries or sign ups, however this is usually far from the case. During my time during the industry I've seen many agencies make the same mistakes when it comes to producing websites...
Designing Generic "Pretty" website with no focus on conversion
Every website needs a purpose - or more importantly, a focus on converting the hard earnt traffic arriving to it. Quite often I'll see old website be re-designed into a flashy "HTML5/CSS3" site with sliding menus, cute animations and all other forms of "shine" designed to make it look pretty with absolutely zero thought on who will be using it or what they'll be trying to achieve.
It may win awards but if it fails to convert then you've just wasted your clients money.
Not Implementing Proper Tracking For Forms, Sales & Enquiries
Every website should track their important actions - if you run an ecommerce website then you need to know what is causing your visitors to get over the line and put their cash in your bank account however I continuously see websites built that aren't trackable.
If you're an agency who builds E-commerce websites then ecommerce tracking for Analytics should come as standard. If you build AJAX contact forms then you should use events or virtual page views in Google Analytics so they can be tracked. If your client's site offers downloads then they should have events on them!
All fairly simple things to implement however not having access to that data from the start can severely hamper the efforts of any marketer.
Not Communicating When The Website Is 'Actually' Launching
Far too often I'll see an email in my inbox informing me that a new re-design has been put live well past the originally agreed launch date. I have no gripes about projects running over as so many routinely do however not communicating what the actual launch date is can be disastrous if redirects haven't been properly implemented or new titles and descriptions created for pages.
If you're rebuilding a website or changing the site structure then keep me in the loop! Pages receive links and gain value while they're up - if you change this without a redirect then you throw away a lot of that equity!
Leaving Demo & Staging Websites Accessible To Search Engines
Many agencies like to have a staging URL so their clients can see what is going on which again I'm all for however allowing a demo website to be indexed by Google can have some very negative consequences. Not only does it allow anyone who can use the "site:" command in Google find out your client list, it can also produce several copies of a website across different URLs and even allow them to outrank the original causing huge drops in traffic.
It's very simple to set up a robots.txt on your staging website - there's no excuses for not blocking prying eyes from your test sites.
Running With Utterly Terrible Custom CMSs
Perhaps my biggest gripe with agencies is the use of their own custom CMS systems over open source alternatives such as Wordpress or Magento, etc. These offer a far more refined experience for backend users and can offer amazing flexibility. Too many custom CMSs are riddled with bugs, crazy work flows and poor flexibility.
That's not to say that open source packages such as Wordpress are the ideal solution for everyone but if an agency CMS doesn't offer a comparable experience and fulfil the client's needs then it needs to be discarded as an option.
There's always another side to the argument
As always, there are many variables at play and I can completely understand how some of these things come to pass. The people who build the website work to briefs produced by their producer or studio manager - if they haven't factored in ecommerce tracking on a project then they won't implement it and there is a massive amount of pressure to get projects out of the door on time and on budget.
Sometimes a client will push an agency down a certain route regardless of what advice they have offered. Sometimes people make mistakes and simply forget to do certain tasks.
Every agency should be willing to learn, refine and push their service forward - if they're committed to making the best possible websites then i'm more than happy to work with them to produce the very best they can for their clients.
With the reputation of the web industry, I just wish more agencies had that mentality.