$40 Million for a Crappy WordPress Theme?!

Hush Harbor (detail), From the series Suspended Beliefs, 2013, Ink, collage and manual typewriter on paper 19.75 x 8.5 inches

Yup, this really happened. A South African government agency paid R40 Million to an agency, who basically setup a $40 WordPress theme. That’s roughly $3 Million U.S. dollars.

For. A. Shitty. WordPress. Theme.

You’re probably wondering how this could happen.

Shortcut: Make sure this doesn’t happen to you

Maybe you’re thinking, Well it’s the government. Everyone knows the government will pay $500 for a $5 wrench. All governments waste money.

I’m here to tell you this sort of thing happens ALL THE TIME and it can happen to anyone (even me).

My wife and I are in the process of hiring a landscape contractor to build out our new landscape design. It’s seriously daunting. We’re trying to evaluate the skill, experience, and trustworthiness of various contractors even though we have extremely limited knowledge about the skills we’re trying to hire for. It’s a recipe for potential disaster.


In 2014, I was approached by a local technology company whose stated mission is:

…help companies solve business problems through technology by providing Consulting, Custom Development and Staff Augmentation services

They had just launched their brand new beautiful website, but they needed ‘just a few changes’ to make it work better for them.

They had a great marketing campaign to promote their latest product, but couldn’t figure out how to change the homepage to add an email opt-in form, or change the text on the home page.

They gave me access to the site to evaluate and give them a quote. Under the hood, I found not just a shitty bloated WordPress theme (from Themeforest of course), but one that had been hacked to the point where even I could barely figure out how things were put together.

Friends, it was a real trash fire.

No wonder they were having trouble. This was a technology company and they paid well into the 5-figures for this beautiful useless site.


Problem 1: Hiring for Skills

Most people, when they decide they need help with their web presence, immediately start looking for a skill. Could be a designer, or a developer or a copywriter. The person you hire might have the skill you’re looking for, but applying that skill may not get you the resultyou’re looking for.

Problem 2: Builders Gonna Build, Coders Gonna Code

The majority of designers and developers out there will do exactly what you hire them to do: make you a pretty design, write some code, or build out your WordPress template. A very small percentage of them actually understand marketing and business and are focused on building a solution to your core problem.

This is how you end up with beautiful websites that don’t actually help your business.

Just this month, one of the people in my co-working space–a guy who previous to his current business ran a successful digital marketing agency–came to me for help because he had a beautiful website that someone else built for him, but he couldn’t figure out how to change the testimonial on his home page.

Sound familiar?

Testimonials are one of the best ways to increase your conversions on your website. That means if you can’t add a simple testimonial or change the ones you have now, you’re losing money as you read this.

A few weeks ago, I hired a new developer and gave them a simple task to customize some theme options for a project before going on vacation. When I came back they had managed to write 478 lines of unnecessary code. I had to remind them about one of Karvel Digital’s core values:

Our job isn’t to write more code, it’s to solve our client’s problem in the quickest, simplest way possible.

How do you get the website you need without wasting thousands of dollars?

The first step is to figure out what your core problem is (most often it’s needing more customers) and then decide what RESULT you want to achieve to solve your problem.

The next step is to find someone who understands your problem and can apply their experience, skills and expertise to give you a solution to your problem.

And finally, it’s vitally important that you make sure you setup and maintain your digital assets in a way you can access and control.

Let me say that again: If you don’t control your digital assets, you’re leaving your business at the mercy of others.

To learn more or to work with Kronda, go to KarvelDigital.com

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