There are many choices when you need to get your website designed, but at the same time there are only very few, it all depends what you really need. Seriously though, we all already know this.. So why am I writing this blog post? Because the following information is crucial for you if you are in the market for a website.
The problem is that everybody and their neighbor’s grandmother is a web designer. There are designers and agencies in India, Pakistan and Philippines* that will design your website for $300, there are US-based freelance web designers that will build you a website for $2000 and then there are US-based agencies that will build you a site for $6000 or $10,000. What is the difference? Why such a huge gap in prices for essentially the same product?
Simple, it is all about quality and customer service. It’s the difference between getting “a website” or getting a website that you actually wanted.
Cheap-O Web Sites
Remember, most of the time, you will get what you pay for. Cheap-o websites will look like a website but will not function like you envisioned it. It will be missing functions, styles and various parts. From my own experience, it will be a bigger headache than not having a website at all.
This is why I do not recommend getting a website from:
- Freelancers outside of US (or UK, Australia and other developed countries).
- From freelance exchanges like oDesk, freelancer or eLance and etc.
UNLESS you know exactly what needs to be done and you are able to explain this very thoroughly to them, and then babysit them until it is done. (I told you it would be a headache).
US-Based** Freelance Web Designers <- BEST VALUE
It is not because I, my self, am a US-based** freelance web designer, but because this it the truth, that I say that going with one is the best decision you will ever make. Let me explain, here is why freelance web designers will deliver exactly what you need.
- We, freelancers, we pay our bills by making sure our clients are satisfied.
- We do our best to deliver the best quality product we can possibly muster up.
- We take pride in every single project we work on, because it is going on our portfolio.
- We are always here to help after the project is done.
- You deal with the same guy (or girl) every time, and most of the time, we know what you are talking about.
- Our prices are cheaper than agencies and we are more flexible.
- We are bound by the same laws and our legal system kicks butt (a lot of the time).
When you order a website from a freelancer, you are not dealing with a sales person but with the actual developer that will be designing and developing your website. The information that was discussed will not be “lost” between agents and representatives.
Why do I emphasize “US-based**”? Because, from my own experience, we are more professional about our work and we have a better work-ethic. We are bound by the same laws and have certain predictable behaviors. We are also more trustworthy. I am not trying to put down freelancers from other countries, I am just stating my own average experience in this industry. There are great freelancers out there that I love and they deserve respect but to find them you will go through a hundred “mistakes” before you find one good one. it is easier to pay a bit more and hire someone that will do it right the first time.
US-Based** Web Design Agencies
Agencies are great for bigger companies. They will deliver what you request but they will be less flexible and less personal about your project. You will pay more, sometimes even twice as much. In many cases agencies will outsource your project to us, freelancers anyway. They have set prices and you will have less wiggle or negotiation room. You will also be dealing with a sales person that will have limited knowledge of the technologies and may over-promise things.
I am sure there is a good reason why many companies hire agencies, I am just not aware of any that are worth paying double for. So I give respect to the agencies as they are pretty awesome to work for, for the most part and all the stuff like that, but I would hire a freelancer over an agency any day.
So What Is The Next Step?
Now that we have cleared up that hiring a US-based freelance web designer is your best move, where do you go from here? Here are some important tips to ensuring that what you have delivered to you is exactly what you needed or better.
- Know what you need. Make a list of features, functions you need. Be flexible about this though because a knowledgeable designer may offer a better way of doing it.
- What is the purpose of the website? Know what you are trying to achieve. What is the ultimate goal for your website?
- BEFORE YOU HIRE, look through the portfolio and read what part of the project was this designer responsible for.
- BEFORE YOU HIRE, see how long has the designer been building websites.
- BEFORE YOU HIRE, talk to them and see how responsive they are and how knowledgeable they are.
- BEFORE YOU HIRE, read their reviews and see what other clients say about them.
- Create a site map of your pages so you know what you will need.
- Gather all the resources, like photos, images, PDFs videos and anything else that will go on the website.
- Know that the more prepared you are and you know what you need, the more the freelanced will want to work with you.
- Know that a freelancers are usually busy and like to pick and choose who they work with, so it is not just you that is looking to hire them, but they also will be looking to see if they want to work with you.
- Expect lead time of up to 4 weeks before a freelancer can start work. The wait is worth it.
- Talk to us, tell us what you expect, what you need and we will do our best to deliver.
Once you have all these things together you are ready to get going. To find a good web designer you can obviously search Google for “freelance web designer” but you can also search on LinkedIn and ask your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Getting recommendations from your friends or other people’s testimonials will usually weed out any incompetent wannabes that you don’t want to work with and put you in contact with good professional and knowledgeable designers that will deliver you new baby website.
This was my rant for today, I hope it opens up the world of web design a little for you so you know what to expect and how to go about hiring a web designer.
Disclaimers Below 😉
*I am not saying that all India, Pakistan and Philippines-based designers are like this, just using this for an illustration. There are some high quality designers and agencies from there, you just have to look and you will pay more than $300 for it.
**When I say US-based, I also mean other developed countries like UK, Germany, Australia, etc.
****These are my opinions and not facts. I’ve been in this industry a long time and have seen all kinds of things, so my opinion is based on my overall experience. Take it or leave it, it is up to you. Let me know what you think and what your experiences are in the comments.
I know that my parents did a lot of searching before they hired someone to design and build their business website. I am planning on starting my own business soon and I know that I will want to have a great website. I like your advice to hire a US based freelance web designer. For me, the biggest benefit is that you talk to and work with the same person the whole time. I think this would make a huge difference in making sure the end product is what you want. Thanks for sharing!