A brief but not extensive summary of our hot tips:

  1. Research and read before you build anything. There are plenty of options from Themeforest, (build on wordpress) or Sharetribe for off-the-shelf products.
  2. Off-the-shelf and templates mean that it won’t be flexible, original and you need to check the IP to make sure you own all the data if you move from the platform. Make sure your license fee is a one-off.
  3. Don’t trust an agency or developer to pick the framework or control the process.
  4. If you are building on WordPress, Drupal or Joolma run through every single plugin, every single feature, module, make a kill list then present what you want to the agency or the developer (or even better pick your agency and developer off your kill list and desired framework).
  5. When developers or agencies say they will do a sprint, don’t let them not keep their word and follow-up on their sprint every day.  A sprint is what most will advertise and should last 4 weeks.
  6. Once you pay the deposit agencies will produce a UX design in usually pdf form.   This is not a sprint.   It’s a glossy brochure without any substance.   A sprint is what happens back-end and is part of an Agile SCRUM environment and at the end of a sprint, you should have a basic prototype like the nuts and bolts of your website.
  7. Any non-transparency or no comment on why they are late in any given week means they either don’t know their stuff, have coded themselves into a corner or there is some other issue that they aren’t telling you about.
  8. The first sign that they don’t have a good project management system that includes YOU every day and every week walk away before you start.    My agency managed the entire project, left me out of the loop when I asked questions they were non-transparent around how they would deliver on the project.    I let them do their job to my detriment because I naïvely thought they were professionals who operated like professionals and would tell me the next steps etc.
  9. Agencies or developers who don’t keep you in the loop or treat your business like it is second to other clients, can’t answer your questions, turn up late, stop taking your calls, will always deliver poor quality work.    I tried to follow-up many times with the founder of my agency who stopped returning my calls and emails and copied in his lawyer and told me he would sue me for defamation.      Give me a break.   Now I send the site audits to him and his outsourced Brazilian developer so at least they can understand where the issues lay and possibly learn something for the next client.
  10. Initially to test your idea or if you are building a brochure style site (ie; an information only website don’t spend too much money) just use a template or get someone on Fiver to help you.