I think this can be common in any industry that requires specialised expertise that goes way above the laymans head.
When you need a new website or website redesign you need to be on the lookout for:
Promise you the world. Any questions posed to them will be immediately replied with slick yesses. They are going to deliver you the most amazing website ever built for a fraction of the cost you’d expect. It’s going to be the next Facebook and you’ll rank number in Google for everything!
Charge you the world too. Initially it mightseem that costs are quite low. Ask for a breakdown of all total costs. Ensure they are including hosting costs, all ongoing costs and allowing for unexpected costs. Be very wary of the hourly rate as this can quickly add up if they spend a day troubleshooting an Internet Explorer bug.
Be overly pushy. In the beginning you’d see a barrage of calls and emails, special offers, limited time incentives – anything to get you to sign on the dotted line.
Be unavailable. Once you’ve shelled out some cash you find the programmer is always in a meeting when you need to reach him.
Be sketchy on the details. Yes that’s all fine – of course it is, it must be because they said so, didn’t they? Ooops. Unless you’ve gotten it in writing and you’re clear on exactly what’s expected and when then you may as well forget it and take what you’re given.
When I say MegaCorp I mean the numerous automated or semi-automated turnkey website solutions. Many major hosting companies, software companies offer free websites or extremely cheap website design.
It can be tempting to go with one of these huge companies offering to have your website up and running in under an hour for $5. But honestly? C’mon.
You get what you pay for and you’ll quickly realise it’s impossible to customize your website just how you’d like it, the website has a generic feel, doesn’t rank well in search engines or you are very limited in what you can update.
Suddenly that $5 isn’t looking so cheap and you’re stuck.
He can do it at a reduced rate because he doesn’t have any overheads, he’s young, he just does it as a hobby, it’s good experience and it will build his portfolio etc etc etc.
BEWARE! Going with the hobbyist could land you with a website that’s outdated, cheap looking, slow loading, difficult to update or just doesn’t do what you want it to.
Aside from the final result the project is likely to be drawn out for a long time as Hobbyist has UNI finals or the flu.
Last but not least once your website is finally done the Hobbyist may move away from website design and leave you in the lurch with updates or a website redesign.
A hobbyist is very rarely a good choice unless you have only a small or extremely simple project.
Pro’s of using a freelancer include reduced costs and… okay mainly reduced costs. If you choose a good freelancer you may find extra fast turnaround time and if you’re lucky person to person communication.
So what are the dangers?
Firstly a lot of freelancers are very inexperienced and may do the work part-time. As the pay is low and there are little direct consequences of doing a poor job, not sticking to budget or not doing a job at all you run the risk of receiving shoddy work, no work at all or ballooning costs.
Major freelancing teams from Vietnam and India are also common. They may take on hundreds of jobs in a short space of time. With these teams you won’t have any direct access to the coder and coders may change frequently. They can also be very hard to get in touch with, particularly if their day is your night.
Perhaps the worst part of using the freelancer is the language barrier. Are you ready to explain the same requirement five times only to have it misunderstood just as many? You also better be prepared to redo text throughout the website as it can often come out in less than perfect or even broken English.
Honest, friendly and professional web site designers
A good website designer will
- Provide you with a quote and sometimes a proposal before any job is undertaken.
- Get written confirmation on job requirements so both sides are clear on what’s expected.
- Be happy to answer any questions
- Be able to show you previous work
- Be realistic about what’s achievable, timeframe and costs.
- Sometimes tell you ‘No.’
- Complete work within the given timeframe and quoted cost.
- Be available by phone or email to help you directly rather than bumping you to a ticketing system.
- Cost a little more than the other options although that depends on how you look at it
- Let you know in advance if there’s going to be a problem.
- Be able to explain things to you in laymen’s terms
- Deliver high quality results across the board. Your website should look great, load fast and be using the latest standard compliant, cross browser compatible code.
- Be pleasant to deal with
So forget website design disasters and get yourself a good team of web site designers today!