When it comes to searching for a talented and competent website designer, I feel your pain. Been there. Finding an affordable pro who knows what their doing can be terribly difficult.
Even though we now spend our days managing and redesigning websites, I once spent countless hours in your shoes, trying to finding talented website designers and reliable developers. In fact, often, those are two unique skill sets. A good designer has an eye for creating a clean and professional look, while a web developer handles the crucial and geeky side of coding websites using HTML and CSS. Finding someone who can do both well enough isn’t easy. So, what choices do you have?
Web Design Freelancer?
Often the best option (but, the one that requires the most luck) is to hire an independent freelance web designer. If you can find a good one (references, references, references), you should be able to make it through the process of getting a solid website online for $1,000-$5,000.
If you go this route, what you’ll probably end up with is a professional looking, 3 to 8-page online business card. It will probably still lack the elements that we stress are so important here at Website Blueprint: online marketing elements, SEO (search engine optimization), email marketing, blogging, social media, and utilizing your website as a “sales funnel.”
But, many small businesses have to take things in small steps, and getting a professional small business website online is step one. So, how do you find a freelancer? It could be a friend of a friend or you can find designers through services like elance.com.
If you don’t have the time to build a website yourself (who does?) and don’t have enough money for a web development agency to do most everything for you (see below), an independent freelancer may be your best first step.
Full Service Web Firm/Agency?
If you can go this route, congratulations. You’re business should end up with a great web presence, and you’re going to save yourself both time and frustration. But, can you afford it?
There are great design firms in most mid-sized and larger markets. I have no doubt if money weren’t an obstacle, you could set up an appointment with a full service web firm/agency and have them take care of nearly everything for you.
What’s it going to cost? Without knowing your specific requirements, my best guess would be in the range of $5,000-$15,000. Now, if you’ve got the cash, you’re good to go. But, there are still elements of web marketing that you’re going to want to understand yourself.
For many businesses, finding talented freelancers is the best option. Problem is, the search is often filled with disappointment once you’ve hired someone and discover they suck. Most often by producing crappy work or just plain ripping you off.
Do it Yourself?
If you plan on creating or recreating your website yourself, my heart goes out to you. It is a time consuming, frustrating and costly investment. Even with modern website platforms like WordPress.
Taking the time to learn a web creation/editing tool is a nightmare. Believe me, you don’t want to try to build your own website. Unless you have a solid background in design, CSS, and HTML, you’ll never have a finished website that is professional enough to represent your business.
There are services that promote themselves as DIY website builders, such as Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc… Unless you’re the smallest of small businesses with no budget, I recommend avoiding them. You will never be able to create a web presence with enough flexibility and professionalism without working with either a professional web designer (a freelancer) or a web design agency.
What to do? Here are my recommendations:
- If you can find someone locally who you’re comfortable with, have produced other website you feel of the quality you need and they have references you respect, use them. It’s always better to have local help.
- Ask around. If a friend has a nice website and they have been happy with their designer or developer, consider giving them a shot if they have references.
- If you see a website you like, look at the bottom of the page (the footer) and see if the designer/developer has a link.
- Contact your local colleges. Find out if there are any working students who are talented and already taking on clients.
- Post a job online. My favorite source is www.elance.com. Others folks have found help at www.odesk.com, www.guru.com, and www.craigslist.com.
- Do a Google search for “web design *your town/city*.” You may find a small local design shop or solo-entrepreneur who can help you at a price comparable to a freelancer.