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BigCommerce Design Help – I Feel like I Am Being Robbed by Design Firm – Am I in the Wrong?

Hi,

I am hoping you can help tell me if I am being crazy or no. My background is I'm been in ecommerce for 20 or so years, and have 5 or 5 redesigns under my belt. Two redesigns for Bigcommcerce stores. My current store is a B2b store selling packaging materials in a competitive market.

Past redesigns have been more of a calibration between the designer/developer to get a style and features I might need. I usually rely on their expertise for best practices, and suggestions on how to enhance the customer experience, and address any problems I might have. My last redesign was about $6k and it was a modified bigcommerce theme, with some custom graphics.

This time around I feel like I was sold. I signed up last September up with a BC partner firm who employs 30 people with a $20k contract, within the contract was bank of hours for specific things like design, development, stretegic brand development, SEO, and account management ect. I had the impression that I was signing up with a advertising agency, and I could us them to help prop me up to have better branding. they also said they have a guy who can help simplify the software I use (erp, crm , shipping, ect). They also said we can use a off the shelf template. Sounds great right?

Here are the issues as briefly as possible and they contrast to my past experience:

  • The logo design felt like minimum effort was put in.
    • Instead of them developing a brand identity, they gave me what I "want". I'm not a designer,
    • Figuring it was me, I moved it along since the design director was working on.
  • During this time I found out the company doesn't have many b2b clients like me and I was an "expert" on what was out there for software.
  • I also find out the the PM on the case, who I am paying $135/hr for (in the contract) is completely new to this line of work. So 1) The project really has no leader, it is just me and the designer and 2) I'm not getting any benefit from his prior experience.
  • When they give me the sight branding/layout, the site colors, theme and everything else almost completely matches a larger competitor's site which I gave them as an example.
  • Everything about this design has been about what I want and giving me what I want vs what my customer could relate too. It's been up to me to lead the project. I stop work, and tell the owner I want to part ways. They already had $10k of my money, I wasn't sure where they were on hours. The owner basically said give them a change the designer is definitionally putting hours in. "We win design awards".
  • So I keep going, they give me the Home page, contact us page, custom product page looks good. the category pages, and product pages are untouched from the template and look exactly like my competitors. They also look detached from the home page. I mentioned this and changes I need to the item page to help me sell more and I get "there are limitations to what we can do with the temple" from the PM. They kept brick walling me. I couldn't figure out why. I ask them for the hours they put in and it was about $7k in design, $4k for internal meetings and they had another 85 hours left of development (@$135/hr) to install the design in the theme without my changes.

So for $20k I am getting a Home page, about us page, a custom product page, and a contact page (with normal custom graphics) and them installing the theme into the template. What are your thoughts on this? Is this normal now?

  • I obviously have my own ideas about how to handle this, one including just walking away from the $10k, They just told me I have to find a photographer to get lifestyle pictures they planned for.
  • If i finish the project I will still have to have the category and product page tweaked, unless I strong arm them, in which case it might get into a pissing match. I'm not looking to screw anyone.
    • I did assume they would tweek the template which is normal to do. The item page doesn't meet my needs that I stated in the beginning of the project.

submitted by /u/High_Wont_Hold
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