In a recent conversation with a client, he told us about a previous experience with a web designer who had built his old site. The designer had an impressive website with the latest animations, a large office, and was very keen to deliver the perfect website as soon as possible.
And they did deliver everything he’d asked for. He paid them a significant amount of money, and he was very happy with his amazing new site.
Until a family member pointed out the “bespoke” site they had “built” was an off-the-shelf commercial WordPress theme the designer had bought for around £50 ($60) and then passed off as their own work, at a vastly inflated price. To add insult to injury, their office address was a rented mail address, and the pictures of the offices were stock photos downloaded from Pixabay. Even their own website was a commercially available pre-built WordPress theme.
He felt robbed. He could have just bought that theme and installed it himself.
So how do you spot a crook when you’re shopping around for a bespoke site?
- First up, if there is an address, just Google it. If the search returns a direct mail company then be very wary.
- Second, reverse search any images claiming to be their offices. Download one of the pictures (right click then ‘Save as’), then go to https://images.google.co.uk/, click on the camera icon, and upload the picture you just downloaded. Google will return similar pictures. If it matches any stock photos, alarm bells should start to ring.
- Thirdly, check the page source from their website or a website they’ve built. To do this, right click anywhere on the website, then choose ‘View page source’. You’ll be presented with the code for that page. Then search for the word ‘theme’ (Ctrl+F). If you see a path that looks like http://www.somewebsite.com/wp-content/themes/awesomeness, then you know that it’s using a WordPress (wp-content) theme called awesomeness. A quick Google search for ‘WordPress theme awesomeness’ will tell you if that is a pre-built theme or not.
Obviously, a smart charlatan could obscure this last step by inserting their own theme name into the original PHP and CSS files, but chances are they probably haven’t.
We hope these pointers prove helpful in some way!