Every business once faces the question: how to choose a good web designer? Should it be a professional web design studio or a freelancer?
How do I find a web designer?
Looking for someone to create a website is always hard and responsible. But it’s better to invest your time in the research to avoid choosing in a rush. No matter if you’re looking for a web design studio or designer itself, here are the main ways of finding a contractor:
- Friends’ recommendations
If you own a business, you probably have connections with other businessmen or people who know them. And I can assume that most of them have websites since almost every business has its own space on the internet. If your colleagues like the website they got, they will be happy to recommend a trusted web designer or studio.
- Freelance marketplace
If you have a lot of time, you can dive into all kinds of talent marketplaces where you can organize some kind of a tender. For example, 99 designs or Freelancer let you start a contest and choose between different ideas. On such websites, you can pick a winner and polish his version or choose directly who you want to work with, without any contests.
A little bit obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. You can just search for your perfect web designer or studio by yourself! Look through the results, check their websites, and pick the one that you like most.
- Competitors' websites
Do you like your competitors? This is a trick question. Even if your answer is “no“, it doesn’t mean they have bad websites. List all the main companies that operate in the same field and visit their websites. If you like some of them, then feel free to contact studios that created these websites (you can find this information at the bottom of the website).
Regardless of the way you look for someone to create a website, you will face a choice: should you choose a studio or a single freelancer? Take it responsibly because this decision will affect your business directly.
Freelance website designer
Before transferring a payment, consider all pros and cons of this option.
Freelancers are famous for their affordable pricing policy. This option will be much cheaper than hiring a web studio because a single person has significantly different expenses and responsibilities.
Even though freelancing doesn’t necessarily mean a 24/7 gig, most freelancers have working evenings and weekends. That means that if you spend evenings working on your website (reviewing, content writing, etc.), then your freelancer will be available for communication too.
If you want to make changes that are out of the initial scope, the freelancer will probably do it without hesitating. Such wishes wouldn’t go so smooth in the case of large studios and would be recognized as disrupting studio work processes. However, experienced designers understand that time is money, so the more corrections he gets, the more he charges.
Lack of a comprehensive approach
One person means one opinion. The freelance designer has no possibility to discuss ideas with other team members. Unfortunately, some freelance designers don’t think about the future of the project, e.g. development or content updating by the marketing team. Moreover, a website is a complex product that needs to be designed and developed. Hiring a freelance designer to save money means wasting time on hiring and controlling a developer.
Insecurity can have different faces. Hiring a freelancer has its pros, but you can find yourself in a situation where your contractor disappears after receiving the first payment. Unfortunately, it works both ways, but this article is not about hiring a client Also, there is a risk of leaving your website without proper maintenance after the project is finished because your designer is not reachable anymore.
You're not their №1
Freelancers often have a full-time job, which means that your project is just a moonlight. Should I say that the quality of design created during a break or after the whole day of working will suffer seriously? You can find yourself in a situation where such availability is not an advantage anymore. I don’t mean freelancers are bad but if your designer is working hard on your project having a full-time job, be prepared for burnout because of double work. Of course, a freelancer's sentiment is not what you want to care about, but it is something that affects your project.
Proper self-management (which is a must-have for all freelancers) requires strong discipline and organizational skills. Unfortunately, not every freelancer can handle this. Lack of freelancer’s management abilities can result in micromanagement from the client or missed deadlines.
You get what you pay for
It sounds fair, but here is what this might mean. Let’s don’t take into account situations where everything went fine, and the client has no complaints, and consider two common extremes. The first one is poor-quality work done in a hurry. Non-designers may not notice anything, but this rush and flaws will be reflected on the website. The second extreme is a project that seems to last forever. Sadly, some freelancers treat their clients as wallets only. Such people are willing to make any changes or create another bunch of design conceptions. Btw, in most cases, the client chooses something from the first three versions.
At first, it seems like an advantage – what could be better than a pliable performer? But then the deadline is moving further away: the website becomes overloaded with unnecessary or conflicting elements, and the time spent on this project is stretching a lot. In the end, the designer’s salary becomes similar to the price for the full-service site made by the studio.
Professional web design studio
Usually, a studio has (at least it should) its own established work processes and several team members with different skills and responsibilities. Keep reading to find out what it means for your project.
A strong team is one of the main advantages of hiring a studio. Different people that have been building up their expertise for years can bring immense value to your project because they are interested in its success. Not to mention that in this case, you will get a professional solution to your problem right out of the box (that is a live website, not just the images of it).
One way or another, companies have to keep official accounting and resolve legal issues. A huge advantage of studios over freelancers is the official relationship with the client, where both sides are protected by law. A lot of freelancers prefer to work without signing a contract receiving their pays off the books to save on taxes. But if they decide to disappear one day, you will be powerless in this situation. By signing a contract with the studio, you protect yourself from this risk, but you must also comply with the requirements – the law works both ways.
Projects in professional web design studios are effectively managed by a Project Manager. All the processes are already established, so they don't need to reinvent the wheel every time. Thereby, you are always aware of possible budget changes and compliance with deadlines. If you are wondering what our processes look like, here are two design-related articles: the first one is about our way of creating a brand identity, and the second one is about the web design process.
A website created by a professional web studio will be more expensive, especially if it's a complex solution that includes development. Every studio, even a remote, has its own constant expenses and needs, which are included in the rate. Freelancer's rate can only consist of payment for their expertise, Internet, and software. But the studio's list will be longer: expertise and experience of all team members, hardware, software, accounting & lawyers, office and its maintenance (if it’s not a remote studio), liquidity cushion for dark times, taxes.
Development process could take more time
We create custom designs, but there are also template lovers. If the studio has a comprehensive approach to custom designing, it will definitely affect the time spent on this project. In a perfect world, the studio should have its own processes that will prevent it and the client from unnecessary haste and rash decisions. Also, studios have obligations to other clients.
What should I choose then?
Let us answer with famous developers' words: it depends. Everything matters - the goal, budget, timing, and overall context. If you are limited in budget and just existing on the internet is a higher priority than attracting new customers and build a strong company image, then invest your time in finding a good freelancer, but stay alert.
If you need a professional website for your business and you don't want your project being abandoned because of house repairs or a cat illness, then the studio is your choice. Your project will be developed by a team of experienced specialists who will do everything for a successful launch. Of course, the price will be higher, but it’s worth paying more today to earn more in the future.
4 tips on selecting a web design company
Someday I will write a guide about hiring a good freelancer, but now I’m sharing a few tips on choosing a good studio for your project.
Draw up a budget
In the beginning, you may not know how much you want to spend on your website, but you definitely know what price is unaffordable for you. Setting up a maximum budget will help you to cut off all the studios that are too expensive for you right now. But bear in mind that even though the quality doesn’t necessarily depend on price, a professional website can’t be cheap.
Check for compatibility
Look through the studio’s works in the portfolio. What types of websites does it have? Are there any websites similar to what you want to have? Define the main focus of the studio. If you want to create a corporate website for your company or a marketing website for your new app, then look for these kinds of projects in the showcase.
When you have chosen the company you like, try to be as specific with these guys as possible. It’s a good practice when the studio prepares a brief for you to fill out so you have the right to expect it from the studio. Don’t hurry and try to answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully.
Don’t be shy
Don’t hesitate to contact your favorite studio and ask some questions. Write an email and ask more about their work processes and services.
Suspicious signs to be aware of
Sometimes the work process doesn’t go smoothly, and everyone can make mistakes, but be careful if you start to notice something from the list below:
- The studio or a single designer only thinks about the visual side of the project and doesn't ask questions about who and how will be developing the website. You should be concerned if the designer or studio doesn't want to know about your business, competition, target audience, and your goals. This means that the chosen designer is unprofessional or just not interested in the project.
- The studio doesn't explain how your website works, how to use the CMS, or doesn’t ensure its proper work.
- The studio can't give you an approximate price range even after the scope of work and technical requirements are known.
- The studio insists on using its own technological inventions and can’t ensure the safety and operability of the site when changing hosting or CMS.
- There is no information about the studio or freelancer work process. If you only see the heading "we make websites" (What websites? For whom?) and the "contact us" button, then think twice before spending your time checking such studio.
- Too low studio’s rate or too high freelancer’s rate. Remember what regular expenses does the studio have? A professional studio’s work can’t be cheap. And if you see that some freelancer charges 150$ per hour for design only, feel free to ask what does this price consist of. Is it the experience that has been collected in the best companies for 10 years, or is it just a designer’s whim?
Now you are all set and ready to hire a proper designer or design studio. For example, you can use DesignRush to find some studios. But let’s make a summary:
- Pay attention to questions being asked by a studio or a single designer. A good company will be interested in discussing not only design but also the development and business needs.
- Take your time, make decisions without a rush.
- Paying thousands of dollars for design studio services doesn’t mean outstanding quality. Some specialists have low skills, studios too. Choose the best web design company whose level of expertise is higher than yours.
I tried to cover all key points in such an important topic. If you’re still not sure what option is the best fit for you, then just drop us an email and tell us about your project.