One of my favourite things: fake staff photos on web agency websites.

I rant on a fair bit about doing your due diligence when commissioning a new web development agency.

This is mainly because you will find a lot of agencies look to be larger operations with enough staff to handle your project, and then turn out to be a one-man-band that farms the work out to underpaid offshore freelancers.

However, it would seem that some agencies take it even further.

I was in the WordPress admin of a site today that I am looking at for a client.

The usual stuff: cloned 2021 theme that’s been butchered within an inch of its life.

But the agency had decided to claim they had created the theme, so I checked them out (they had their URL as the theme author).

I love a good team page.

I always check out the team pages on agency sites because I am a nosey so-and-so, but also because I play a little game.

Spot the stock photo…

It’s not uncommon for agencies to bolster their workforce with some imaginary staff members to make the team look like they can handle your project.

This sort of process is at best wishful thinking and at worst, complete fraud.

I know from my own clients that people look at the team to get a feel for the agency and the project fit, so if you are looking at a nicely designed site with a team of 15, you are going to think the agency is a good size to work on your website.

Does anything look fishy?

Look at the team page on an agency’s website and see if the staff images feel a little like stock images.

If they do, use Google Image search to find other matching images on the web.

On this recent UK-based website I visited, their Senior Graphic Designer actually also appeared to be a practising Doctor in Minnesota, and their Marketing Manager also appeared to be a Realtor in the USA.

Whoever they may be, moonlighting for a small UK-based website development agency doesn’t seem to be feasible, although I might be wrong…

Beat the bullshit.

I get particularly pissed off about this sort of thing for several reasons, including:

  1. It’s a fucking lie
  2. Employing staff is a serious responsibility so passing off that you have the guts or experience to do so when you don’t basically makes you a ****.
  3. It means good clients pair with shite agencies and give our industry a bad name.

Again, due diligence.

Don’t believe everything you read on an agency’s website.

If you want to know how many staff they actually have, go check out their data on Companies House – their accounts have to show the number of staff they actually employ.

While you are at it, look at the financials: Does this company make a realistic figure regarding what they claim they can do?

You, the client, should not really have to deal with this crap when trying to find a good WordPress expert or agency, but it’s worth investing a few minutes of your time to cut through the all-to-common bullshit.

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