Are you thinking about hiring a freelance web designer or developer? We're here to give you a full view before you invest a ton of time, money, and trust in the web developer for your precious website.
While we're employing a lovely bunch of responsible, skilled, and super-communicative freelance website designers, we've heard horror stories from clients who have fallen victim to bad ones—and come to pick up the pieces of their project.
Here's why you need to be super careful when choosing the person to build your website.
Why you should never hire a freelance website designer instead of a reputable website design agency
1. Time: You must check the Web Dev Applicants Yourself
Do you have the know-how to ask the potential freelance web designer the right questions in an interview?
For example, do you know the platform on which you want to build your site? Do you need a full-stack, front-end or back-end developer? If you are not familiar with these basic questions on the website dev aspect, you should definitely not hire a freelancer.
Instead, go with an agency that is specialized in building websites and has a team of capable devs. The team that's asking you the questions! And those you know you can trust and have a proven track record.
2. Management of a Freelance Web Developer is a headache
We reject the idea that website development should be a wait-and-see process, one with intangible and missed deadlines and ever-growing budgets. However, as you will find if you go to Upwork or another freelance platform, managing a website designer is a lot like herding cats. This isn't fun. It's a big time suck. And it's rarely organized.
Unfortunately, website designers have a negative rep for a reason.
First of all, they're not always responsive (get used to a 48-hour response time at-best).
Second, Freelance website designers won't be sorry if they miss a deadline or finish something late—always, there's a most creative excuse. It's a huge headache to manage this type of personality on top of your critical job of running a business.
That's when you can go back to the agency. They're going to take care of all this behind the scenes to save you the trouble. Or better yet, they're going to have web developers who are the best of the best and restore good faith and name to the devs.
3. Freelancers don't have back-ups, so you don't have back-ups.
If you work with one person instead of a digital marketing agency, you run a huge risk.
What if your website goes down and you can't reach the designer of your website? If your web developer breaks something and disappears, what are you going to do? What if they stopped suddenly during a busy sales cycle? That's when you're up shit's creek.
Go with an agency that has a full staff, so you're never left without someone to help you out.
4. Money: You get what you're paying for
You get what you're paying for, guys. It might be tempting to go with a web dev that charges half of the going rate. But you have to ask yourself, "Why are they charging less?"
You're not supposed to go with the most expensive option, but shop around and find an affordable website designer who charges an average rate.
5. Freelancers are likely to have full-time jobs or other priorities
Most freelancers use web dev gigs as side hustles. Translation: you're not the number one priority.
Or, they could squeeze your work in between the tasks at nine to five. While some website designers can handle multiple jobs, their lack of time and time management skills often create bottlenecks for your website design projects.
The result? Projects that are dragging. Websites that have not been launched for weeks past your deadlines. And a lot of stress for you.
Most websites should be closed within three months from start to finish. If you talk to a web dev who says the build will take about six to 12 months (unless you're doing a massive, massive website where you'd need a larger team to match), run away!
6. Freelance Web Designers Can Go Rogue
In particular, we have a client who comes to mind when we think about this huge problem. They have invested $20,000 in a freelance website designer. This website developer vanished with their money and left them with an incomplete and non-functional site.
There are more nefarious instances where website developers hold websites hostage and continue to extort money. In both situations, the downside is clear. Going with a single human being that you never meet in person can end very, very badly.
Bottom line: hire a website design agency and, at the very least, always own your admin rights and credential! Never let a website designer build their own hosting or accounts. This is the perfect storm for a situation of turmoil.
7. You need to draw up your own contract
Do you have a freelance contract to protect your business? You need one of them.
While website development agencies will provide a comprehensive statement of work—including accurate deliverables and timelines for what they will deliver within your budget—freelancers will not often be that thorough. It is up to you to set the terms and to protect the budget for the development of your website and website from harm.
8. Web Developers Don't Have Well Rounded Marketing Experience
Website designers are skilled in this—building business websites. They may not be well versed in the content of the SEO website, the actual aesthetic design of your website, or UX. Some devs are pure encoders, while others are rooted in graphic design and code.
If you hire a freelance website designer, you may not get the best advice on how to build or rebuild your business website.
When you work with an agency, the entire marketing team will support your website in the most strategic way possible. After investing in website design, you don't want to have to redo your site a year or two. Start on the right foot, therefore, with the marketing professionals who see the full digital marketing picture. That's going to set up your website for success.
9. They may be out of your time zone
Web designers work around the world. We're 100% in support of that.
However, do you need to know if the in-office hours of your designer are in line with yours? This may not seem like a huge issue right now, but what if the processing of your credit card breaks at noon, but 3:00 a.m. It's theirs? You're going to have to wait and lose money and trust the customer until they can fix it.
Working with a web dev agency involves reliable working hours. With a team of clever designers at-the-ready, you're never going to get stuck in a situation like this.
10. You are in a Hurry
Don't ever rush into a big project like redesigning a website or building a website!
You're going to overlook really important strategic elements and potentially make a financially crippling hiring decision. Even if your website needed a revision yesterday, or you're eager to get going, don't hire a freelance website designer just because you're in a hurry.
Take the time. Put your candidates in. Determine your actual needs and priorities for the website. Planning is the foundation for building a successful website. At Witty Kitty, we're always starting here while maintaining a quick turnaround time.
How to hire a designer and developer for your website
No matter who you choose to hire—freelance website designer or website design agency — you need to know how to properly choose this important member of your marketing team.
Here are some tips for hiring a website designer. In addition, here's some more advice to help you decide whether to hire an internal employee or a marketing agency.
How much does it cost to build a website in 2021?
Websites are dramatically priced—from a few thousand to more than six figures.
Depending on whether you use a pre-built template like a WordPress theme or start from scratch using custom website functionality, your budget will vary. Read more about how much you need to spend on a website in 2021. You should also get some tips for planning your marketing budget, too.
Signs Your Current Website Developer Sucks
Are you reading this article because you're trying to understand the designer of your website?
We're really sorry that you're going through that. Here are some red flags that may indicate that it's time to fire your freelancer or employee and start fresh with an affordable website design agency.
1. Your website designer does not ask questions at the start of your project.
Any reputable web dev should ask TON about your business model, goals, branding/overall vibration, conversion needs, functionality needs, CMS preferences, and more. If they're not asking questions, this is a very bad sign. It's also a sure sign that you won't get the finished product you expect—and pay for it.
2. They're not responsive.
If you're always going days without answers, kick them to the bridle. This is not acceptable.
3. Your web dev has consistently missed deadlines.
Look, delays are going to happen. However, they should be clearly communicated. You should always be told why there is a delay. If deadlines remain unexplained, look for a new website designer.
4. They know nothing about SEO, content strategy, or design.
This is a very big issue. You don't want to build a website that looks pretty, but doesn't convert. It's a huge waste of money.
5. Your dev puts design and aesthetics above UX and functionality.
Always ask for wireframes if you let a website designer dictate the aesthetics of your website. Plus, be very wary if it's all about the creative side without any strategy involved.
6. You're the one who's designing your website!
If you build your own website without proper training or expertise, it's time to hire a professional.
7. They never going to give you a budget, and keep billing as they go.
This pricing model is what causes you to blow your budget. Plus, it shows that your website designer is unable to plan or manage time properly. Before you start a project, you should have a detailed scope including every deliverable (even if it's just the amount of time spent and what that means). You should also have a fixed hourly rate or project cap to protect yourself.
8. Your designer is full of excuses with no clear explanation.
While a lot of things go wrong in the web development process (not because of anything your web dev does), issues should always be fully explained. No smoke and no mirrors at all.
9. They're saying they can do it all.
No web developer is a seasoned Jack or Jill of all trades. There's no way they're a top copywriter, SEO strategist, content strategist, designer, and coder. If they say they can handle everything for you as a single person, they're either a unicorn or a liar.
We've got it. It's super overwhelming looking for a freelance website designer or someone you can really trust to build your website.
That's why we always recommend starting on the right foot with a website design agency. We're starting every project with a deep dive into your business. Our team asks all the right questions, so you'll get the best results. We then set realistic expectations and timelines to get the job done—all within your budget. If this sounds like a dream has come true, click below to get in touch!
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