Looking to hire a web developer - here's a scenario that plays out hundreds of times each day across the U.S. A prospective client will contact a digital agency about a new website. The agency is respected, has done great work in the past, and comes to the meeting prepared with questions and ideas on how to help the client grow their business.
Things go along great until it comes to talk about price. When the digital agency gives a fair quote the prospective client just shakes their head and says, my neighbor's friend can do it for half of that price. Can you match his quote?" The agency rep politely shakes his head and says they can't.
A month or two goes by and the prospective client calls the agency again. It seems the neighbor's friend built the website, but it's not functioning properly and the neighbor's friend is now being unresponsive. Things are a mess. It's time to hire a web developer who can and will get the job done. Desperate, the prospective client is willing to pay the agency's price. The website is costing the prospective client a lot of money and hurting their reputation by constantly being broken.
Obviously, the prospective client is unhappy because they will now pay 1-1/2 times the agency's original quote since they first went with the neighbor's friend. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but by trying to save a few bucks, businesses usually wind up spending a lot more and increase their stress level, than if they had gone with a reputable agency instead.
Many of our long-term clients had originally contacted us after experiencing a similar situation. They had bad experiences that we were able to help them correct and we were able to gain their trust. They may pay more than a neighbor's friend, but they know the job will be done well and on time, and they can always reach us quickly if they need something changed.
The old adage 'you get what you pay for' can be applied to many things, and it certainly can be applied to website design and the need to hire a web developer. If you look hard enough, you can almost certainly find someone who will create a website for $100. But will they add value to your business? Will they respond immediately if you suddenly need a critical update to your website? Will they properly optimize your site for search engines?
Can I Make My Own Website, Do I Need to Hire a Web Developer?
Most people can learn how to put together a website, but a good web designer has years of experience that many others won't have. They know what works and what doesn't. They have honed their skills over many years and are constantly acquiring new talents to create something that will work specifically for each client.
If a client has a specific problem, they have education and experience to draw upon to make sure there is a satisfactory outcome. An experienced web professional will also be able to customize exactly what the client wants at a fraction of the time it would take a low-cost, inexperienced web guy.
Another thing to look out for is some lowball developers farm the work out overseas, and often the client doesn't know about it until something goes wrong. Not only is the language barrier difficult to deal with, but it can be a real hassle (and expensive) trying to contact someone two thousand miles away.
It's amazing that as soon as something goes wrong, and the lowball developer isn't anywhere to be found, the deal you got doesn't seem quite like a deal anymore. Be sure to ask questions and do your research when you are looking to hire a web developer.
A lowball web guy might know Photoshop and some other programs, but it takes years to fully realize how to actually design a good website. The most important factor for users is not how it looks, but how easy the website makes it to find what they want. We've seen many visually stunning websites with high bounce rates because the users are frustrated that they couldn't navigate the site quickly and efficiently. Once they leave, they may never revisit that site again.
DIY Websites: Are They Good?
We also have clients that originally got sucked into the do-it-yourself (DIY) websites. Yes, there are programs out there for making fast, simple websites - but if you're utilizing your website to build your brand or conduct commerce, they can be quite limiting. If you want to make changes to the look of your website or add a needed feature, you'll probably be out of luck.
Also, DIY websites use a set template that may be used by thousands of other users, so your site has the chance of looking like others that your potential client has recently visited. And DIY websites aren't always cheap. There may be a low cost to get started, but many require a reoccurring monthly fee.
Over time, these may wind up costing more money than a custom website and not worth the grief and frustration that's involved. Often times it is to your advantage to just hire a web developer who is experienced and works for an agency that can meet all your needs.
More than ever before, websites need to be dynamic. Your content needs to be constantly changing and updated. Even if you have a content management system (CMS), you will need a seasoned web professional to be there for you when you break or modify something incorrectly. And, it probably will happen.
Someone with all of the skill sets required to build a really good website plus the investment into a solid education cannot work for $5 an hour. Like any critical job, looking just at the cost can get you in trouble when you need to hire a web developer. If you needed brain surgery, you certainly wouldn't want to base your decision solely on cost.
Likewise, a website is a critical element for any company doing business in today's market. A well-respected agency or web professional becomes your partner in business, someone you can rely on you to give you good advice and be there when you need them. Will your neighbor's friend do that? Be sure to think long and hard before making your decision to hire a web developer.