the Weasel Space
Picture the scene. You walk into a meeting with a web site design company prepared to sign a contract to have your new digital mecca produced as quickly as time will allow.
But instead of talking about what they can do for you technically or producing their vision of what your site should look like the company's representatives start talking about "phenomenal growth on the Net" and unbelievable "revenue-generating strategies."
Every time you try to steer the conversation back on track, the only response you get is a faster stream of verbiage usually accompanied by the immediate introduction of a lame powerpoint presentation.
If you're smart, this is the point where you end the meeting. Unfortunately, many people new to web development aren't sophisticated enough to pick up on what's happening until it's too late.
Fifty years ago these people would have been selling vacuum cleaners. Today, they sell web sites.
Needless to say, your web site is not a vacuum cleaner - it's a wee bit more complicated. As yet there are no lemon laws governing web site design, although plenty of people feel there should be. When it comes time to select a design team you're on your own.
Finding a web designer with the skill to match your expectations is hard enough without having to deal with the weasel factor.
A few warning signs to watch out for:
 A good web developer's portfolio is never ever unavailable because it's "under construction".
 It's unlikely a serious developer will offer to host your web site for $19.99 a month. Good web site hosting costs more.
 In the same vein, serious web developers do not charge $9.99 for every content chage they make after a web site is up. They work out a more professional arrangement.
 Your affiliate program is not the most important aspect of your web site. Your architecture is.
 Frontpage is not the state of the art tool professional web site designers use. It has it's uses. But not in a professional design studio.
 Registering your site with major search engines is not rocket science. It's an art in it's own right. The people who really understand how to do it are unlikely to be named Chad let alone own a blow dryer.
 Microsoft, IBM, Yahoo and other big name tech companies are obviously huge presences on the Net. Association with a major brand name does not necessarily imply a web site designer has anything to offer.
In fact, this could be a warning sign. Liars like to lie - it's often their only skill.
 Contrary to popular belief, a firm handshake and eye contact don't always tell you everything you need to know about the person you're dealing with.
Salesmen practice these skills.
 Cool office furniture and hip-looking guys with goatees/babes with spiky blue hair can be rented to generate credibility.
 When it comes to the Internet, statistics - or metrics in digital age parlance - have been known to be used in deception. Be wary of well-dressed dudes armed with impressive statistics.
 Weasels do not have time to quote "spend years studying the Internet and devoting themselves to understanding the trends behind the digital economy"
Weasels like to work out and watch TV.
 In and of itself, a cell phone is a disingenuous object.
The fact that it rings constantly during a meeting does not imply that the owner is either successful or receiving real phone calls.
 You already know the Internet is big. So why do these guys keep talking about it?