How to spot a Web Design scam

Every time we get a distraught client come to us who’s had a horrible money-robbing experience with a web design agency.. it always brings me back to why we started our own Web Design Agency.

Business owners, bookmark this, because I’m going to type up the cheat sheet of everything you need to know when it comes to investing in web design.

We’re renown for talking in laymen’s terms, so I’m going to keep this nice and simple for all of us.

First, you need to understand there are different languages (coding) when it comes to website development and design.

Most business people are familiar with PHP-based websites such as (WordPress and shopify.)

Think of PHP as latin (the origin of language)

Inside of PHP we then have a breakdown of further languages such as CSS & HTML.

I don’t need to break down the acronyms, because you don’t care, (we know our clients) ;).

But to get an idea of where I’m going with this:

View HTML equivalent to English and CSS as ‘slang’.

Platforms like Wix and Squarespace are limited to ‘english’ as they are not PHP-based, this then creates a lot of limitations to design, functionality and optimising the website for high-conversion lead generation.

We then also have other languages, but you don’t really need to adhere to those unless you play with COMPLEX SYSTEMS (Custom-made portals, think banking systems, and other huge systems like that.)

This typically is not you who’s reading this.

You have different tiers of designers/developers.

  1. Drag and drop builders who have close to no CSS/HTML experience.

Baisically they don’t know how to speak web design-glish.

And that’s fine, these people typically will go to a place like 

WordPress Themes & Website Templates from ThemeForest, find a theme that costs $59 looks relatively close to your industry, install it, and change the elements that they can for you.

Something like this personally I wouldn’t pay anymore than $500 AUD to have done.

Pros: Cheap.

Cons: No idea how to best optimise the platform for business growth, most likely not be equipped with the right skillset of business understanding, lack SEO understanding for bringing leads in, created from a template with no branding or understanding why invest in a website.

For serious business owners who are committed to growing their business online, we highly encourage to stay away from these practices that will just chew up time and resources.

A line that we absolutely agree with that we heard from the head of Chromatix Web Design Sydney office is that “cheap is very expensive”, especially the cost to fix/maintain and let’s be honest, you always get what you pay for.

Do it properly from the start if you are looking to build your business through online and create a website that has equity as it builds up traffic and leads over the years.

Tier 2 web designers/developers (Where we operate from and best suited for business owners who are serious about growing a business the right way.)

We speak latin, but have no idea how to work out Kanji. (You know the Japanese alphabet that has over 50,000 letters.)

For your PHP-based systems (remember WordPress/Shopify) they can custom-build, code, with a mix of using the builder + custom language to create a budget-friendly custom solution that factors SEO, Optimisation, & unique custom requirements for the business outcomes.

Depending on your needs you’re ideally looking around the $3-7k in this space.

3rd Tier Web Designers & Developers (Your Kanji speakers aka they talk a language you just never want to try to work out.)

These agencies custom develop absolutely everything from the ground up. The entire environment is custom-designed in a language that is so foriegn it’s usually reserved for large organisations with custom-required solution requirements.

Websites in these areas are typically $20k+

Now here is where the problem lies….


You have to understand why the industry is completely unregulated and why it attracts extreme profit over people type of business-people.

  1. Because the web design space becomes easier and easier for your template drag and drop users it opens three very attractive doors.
  2. You can create websites quickly even if quality or customisation isn’t there, so quick turn over for high profit.
  3. Market Demands for websites allow typically for $5k-$20k-$50k+ you can charge way more and have high profit margins.
  4. If you’re into web design you are bombarded by people from over seas who I dare say are probably running very close to slave-based agencies offering very cheap outsourced labour to be “whitelabeled” as your team.

So now you can sit there and say “I have an agency” because you took up on one of these weekly offers from these countries.. and really it’s just some persistent individual from another country who offer a 30 minute zoom chat with you and wa-la their agency is now “part of your team.”

This then means that the individual who sells the web design to you has become the middle-person.

You then go and pay $10k for web design.

Some company is paid $500-$1000 to design, develop and create your website (most likely from a template anyway to be able to justify profits within these countries.)

Your investment became someone’s instant profit.

Not to mention.. there was some clown here on Facebook who did facebook ads “Start selling $20k web design with my proposal templates.”

Who literally destroyed more heart-invested business owners pockets

Yep, you can imagine.

The Cowboy now has an outsourced agency “Their team”, a 20k web design template.

Now they’ve just created a monster.

And this is what we have to deal with week in and week out.


  1. If they have stated they are a “local agency” and their team are here, ask to have a meeting with the designers/developers involved as well with the project managers involved.
  2. Ask for a voice over/video on demo on how they produce a website. If the business is serious asking for that kind of money, they need to earn your business. You can then verify this or simply send to an expert you trust (myself, or others) if the practice is justified to the cost.
  3. Look through their showcase and contact their clients. Ask how their experience working with the company was like, when they worked with them, and if they are open how much they spent. Typically a just company raises it’s margin’s correctly over the period. So if you saw a project 2 years ago was 3k and now it’s 5k, you can safe to say that they’ve grown reasonably.
  4. Check google reviews, and contact people who have left the reviews.

I know that these measures are above and beyond, but let me tell you the amount of businesses that spend 3-5-$10,000.. only to have gotten something in return that’s not even worth $200 is astonishing.

Don’t fall for these cowboys.

Bookmark this blog. The next time someone in your network is looking for a website. Show them this. Make sure that they do their due diligence.

If you want an agency that places people over profits, with integrity and honesty. Be sure to touch base with Suzy to see how we can best support your needs.

Call Suzy our Client Relationship Manager : 0411 932 656
or email,

To the future of your business,
Brand Specialist, Head of Operations & Founder @ Spiral Orb Designs