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Matching a web designer to your business…

So you have a business idea and need a website, or you have an established business but need a website refresh…here we’ll look at some pointers for choosing the right web designer, and some pitfalls or disappointments you might face.

Firstly, you’re going to need to establish how much you’re willing to or can spend.  Not all designers, even agencies, charge a fortune, but you need to be clear on what costs you can realistically afford to pay and your expectations of the finished product.

Larger agencies, especially city based companies with higher overheads, are going to charge you a premium amount for your web project.  They will probably invite you in to visit them, site you in front of a team of it’s best designers and developers, provide you with story boards on how they see the project going, and might even take you on a trip to the races!  If that is within your spending limit, great!  You will, most probably, get a fantastic looking website with oodles of design flair, that works really well.  Moving forward however, (and I use the term ‘however’, not as a warning, but a point to bear in mind), in order to receive ongoing support, maintenance, updates etc, you’ll more than likely be expected to pay a larger than normal ongoing fee.  It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to speak to the person who is carrying out the work on your website, as your requests will be processed by an account handler.

Freelancers, or a business run by a single person, will definitely cost much less.  In fact, you will probably pay around £1000 for a basic website.  For a new startup business, where cash flow is a but of a struggle initially, a freelancer is a great choice for getting you off the ground with a decent website.  It is worth bearing in mind to be careful on who to choose.  What’s their skill set?  Designer or programmer?  A programmer will give you a website with fantastic functionality, but may fall down on design, whereas a designer will provide you with a great looking website, but functionality may fall down.  If they are a master of both, brilliant, but they are few and far between.  They probably don’t have a broad enough knowledge of servers, security, SEO, online marketing and everything else that is required to ensure your website works for you.  If they have, that’s amazing, you’ve found a diamond, but they might not have enough time to provide speedy support.

Posting your project out on a jobs site, such as Fiverr or Bark, is a great way to receive a number of quotes and compare skills.  You’ll also expect to pay a nominal amount for your project – but beware of the pitfalls…If you choose a web designer/developer from abroad, be aware of time differences.  If you need an urgent change to your website, or your deadline is fast approaching and you need a update on progress, your chosen web designer may be in bed!  Also, if you choose a web designer/developer from India or another non-English speaking country, communication might be an issue.  Language barriers can make it difficult for you to explain what you need doing, and often, you won’t get what you expected or wanted.  This is all based on our own clients experiences, one of which, paid an Indian developer £800 to build their website for them, but after over 6 months of to-ing and fro-ing, he was delivered a half built website which was not designed as expected, and he was forced to re-evaluate his decision and start from scratch.

A mid-sized business (ranging from 2 to 10 employees) will probably be priced in the middle, but can range quite extensively dependent on their overheads.  They will, more than likely, have a range of skill-sets that will allow your project to be delivered as you wanted.  But, again, be careful in your decision.  Do your research.  Do they have a portfolio for you to look at?  Do you like the work they do?  Will you be speaking to the person working on your project?  Do they provide a detailed proposal outlining any ongoing costs, and what’s included (and not included) in the price they quote?  Beware of the masked freelancer – anyone can put pretty pictures of their team on their website, but do these people really exist?

This post is based on our own experiences and those of our clients, so if you’re a supplier of website services, don’t be offended.