Many small business owners struggle to decide how to make the right decision to design their website. They search the web for help with their website and find the choice more difficult than they thought. There are currently (literally) millions of websites that claim to be professional web designers. However, one must be careful in choosing the right person or people to trust in their company’s image. In this article, I will try to classify web designers into manageable groups, and teach the reader the difference between types.
Web designers fall into four general categories: freelance hobbyists, freelance professionals, web design company, and web development company.
The majority of web designers you will come across, especially searching the internet, are self-employed. That is, individuals who design websites but are not employed by a website design company. Some are self-employed professionals but most of those freelancers are hobbyists. They find a version of FrontPage™ that comes with the MS Office™ Suite. They found out how fun creating web pages can be, so they started telling their friends that they could “design” web pages.
The “pros” of using a hobbyist are that they are very cheap. The “cons” are too many to mention, but I will point out some of them. They have no training. They have little knowledge of what makes a good website work; They don’t understand HTML or CSS code but just point to FrontPage and click; They do not understand the concepts of general design and layout and have little real experience. The biggest reason to avoid for a serious entrepreneur, is that their work looks unprofessional, which makes your company look unconventional. Who wants that?
Professional is often defined simply pushed. People think that if you pay for something, you are a professional. This may be true in the Olympics, but in the world of business services, you are not a professional until you are established and respected as one by your clients and peers. Freelance professional web designers are a giant leap from hobbyists in that they have built a respected portfolio of businesses. They have some type of qualified training and experience and have credentials that can be verified by contacting references. They enjoy a good reputation with their clients and other professionals. In general, a good professional web designer can be a good person to do your site. But it’s hard to tell them from amateurs when you’re just looking at the web.
The plus side is that if you find a good one it is much cheaper than a web design company. But this is usually the only upside. If the budget restricts you, the freelancer will do a small project. But anything seriously important should be left to a professional company.
Some of the downsides to using a freelance professional are that they are usually part-time, which means they are limited in the amount of time they can devote to your project. They are also limited in what they can do for you. Most freelancers specialize in one area and are general in everything else. Some have no skills in anything but their one specialty, and you often have to find others to fill the roles. In addition, the self-employed are not always cheap although many of them aspire to set up their own companies; Some are in high demand and get paid $100 an hour or more for their work. My advice here is, if you have a lot to spend, hire a company that has a team of professionals to get the job done in a timely manner.
web design company
This is the next step after the freelancer. The web design company offers the “full view”. They provide real project management and have assembled a team of web experts to accomplish a wide range of jobs. The company can provide a much higher level of expertise in web design, programming, content development, and more.
Such a company is usually very small, but large enough to handle large scale projects. Compared to the most qualified freelancer, the company has a diverse pool of talent and collaborative work to their advantage. The end result is usually a high quality product.
The only real drawbacks are on the one hand, a web design company is more expensive than freelance work because there are so many people in the business. However, you get what you pay for right now. On the other hand, for very large projects or long-term development, web design companies may be too small and usually don’t have the human resources to accommodate a $500,000 contract. In the end, for serious business people who are looking for quality and professionalism and who can’t afford a big company, this is the way to go.
web development company
As the title suggests, the web development company is like any traditional company. They have a staff of office workers, they have owners and officers, and they have a team of talented professionals who are well paid for their work. They often have a sales team that does both internal and external sales. The quality of their work is indispensable, as you cannot be entrenched by doing a shoddy job. These companies offer teams of very talented professionals who work on your project and get the job done in a timely and highly efficient manner. Additionally, they usually cover all aspects of website development including marketing and advertising. They may have teams of professionals that they can deploy to your location and work at home under a temporary contract. The possibilities are endless.
If price isn’t an issue and the highest quality work is necessary, that’s who you want to do the job. For a small business on a tight budget, a quote from an established web development company may put you off your seat, but know that companies with project requirements of hundreds of thousands of dollars know the outcome. Thus, the only real drawback of a web development company is that they are usually very expensive. Then again, cost is relative and bigger companies like to work with bigger companies.
In short, the choice is yours. I would recommend to the serious businessman, that you allocate an appropriate amount of dollars to properly design and implement a professional website. I would avoid hobbyists and outsourcing to a well-experienced, reasonably priced individual or company to build my web presence. If money was no object, I would just deal with established companies and pay big to get the job done right and doing well.