Are you thinking about hiring a freelance website designer? We’re here to give you the whole picture before you invest a ton of time, money, and trust into the web developer for your precious website. While we employ a lovely bunch of responsible, skilled, and super communicative freelance website designers, we’ve heard horror stories from clients who have fallen victim to the bad ones—and come to us to pick up the pieces.
Here’s why you should be super careful when choosing the person to build your website.
Why You Should Never Hire a Freelance Website Designer Over a Reputable Website Design Agency
#1) Time: You Have to Vet Web Dev Applicants Yourself
Do you have the know-how to ask a potential freelance website designer the right questions in an interview? For instance, do you know which platform you want to build your site on? Do you need a full-stack, frontend, or backend developer? If you aren’t familiar with these basic website dev questions, you should definitely not hire a freelancer. Instead, go with an agency that’s skilled in website building and has a team of capable devs. A team that asks you the questions! And ones you know you can trust and have a proven track record.
#2) Managing a Freelance Web Developer is a Headache
We reject the idea that website development should be a wishy-washy process—one with intangible and missed deadlines and constantly burgeoning budgets. However, as you’ll find if you go on Upwork or another freelance platform, managing a website designer is a lot like herding cats. It’s not fun. It’s a huge time suck. And it rarely gets any more organized.
Unfortunately, website designers have a negative stereotype for a reason. For starters, they’re not always responsive (get used to a 48-hour response time at-best). Secondly, Freelance website designers won’t apologize if they miss a deadline or finish something late—there’s always an excuse. It’s a huge headache to manage this personality type on top of your very important job of running a business.
That’s when you can fall back on an agency. They’ll handle all of this behind the scenes to save you the hassle. Or better yet, they’ll have web developers like Witty Kitty who are the best of the best and restore the good faith and name in devs.
#3) Freelancers Don’t Have Back-Ups—So Neither Do You
When 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 your website designer? If your web developer breaks something and disappears, what will you do? What if they quit suddenly during a busy sales cycle? You’re up s$#t’s creek, that’s what. Go with an agency that has a staff, so you’re never left without someone to help.
#4) Money: You Get What You Pay For
You get what you pay for, folks. It may be tempting to go with a web dev who charges half of the going rate. But you need to ask yourself, “why are they charging less?” You shouldn’t go with the most expensive option either, but shop around and find an affordable website designer who charges an average rate.
#5) Freelancers Probably Have Full-time Jobs or Other Priorities
Most freelancers use website dev gigs as side hustles. Translation: you’re not their #1 priority. Or, they may squeeze your work in, in between tasks at their nine to five. While some website designers can handle multiple jobs, their lack of time and time management skills often create bottlenecks with your website design projects. The result? Projects that drag. Websites that don’t launch for weeks past your deadlines. And lots of stress for you.
Most websites should wrap up within three months from start to finish. If you talk to a web dev who says the build will take closer to six to 12 months (unless you’re doing a massive, massive website in which you’d need a larger team to match), run away!
#6) Freelance Website Designers Can Go Rogue
We have one client in particular who comes to mind when we think about this huge con. They invested $20,000 in a freelance website designer. This website developer disappeared with their money and left them with an incomplete and nonfunctional site. There are more nefarious instances too where website developers hold websites hostage and continue to extort money. The downside is clear in both situations. Going with one single human who 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 credentials! Never let a website designer build under their own hosting or accounts. This is the perfect storm for a going-rogue situation.
#7) You Need to Draft Your Own Contract
Do you have a freelancer contract to protect your business? You need one. While website development agencies will deliver a comprehensive statement of work—one that includes exact deliverables and deadlines for what they will provide within your budget—freelancers won’t often be this thorough. It’s up to you to set the terms and safeguard your website development budget and website from harm.
#8) Website Developers Don’t Have Well Rounded Marketing Experience
Website designers are skilled in that—building websites for businesses. They may not be well versed in SEO website content, the actual aesthetic design of your site, or UX. Some devs are pure coders, while others are rooted in graphic design and code.
If you hire a freelance website designer, you may not get the best advice about how to build your business website or rebuild it. When you work with an agency, they’ll have the entire marketing team to support your website in the most strategic way possible. You don’t want to have to redo your site a year or two after investing in website design. Therefore, start out on the right foot with marketing professionals who see the full digital marketing picture. That will set your website up for success.
#9) They May Be Out of Your Time-Zone
Web designers work all over the world. We’re 100% in support of that. However, you need to know if your designer’s in-office hours align with yours? This may not seem like a huge issue now, but what if your credit card processing breaks at noon your time, but 3:00 A.M. theirs? You’ll have to wait, and lose money and customer trust until they can fix it.
Working with a web dev agency comes with reliable working hours. With a team of savvy designers at-the-ready, you won’t ever get stuck in a situation like this.
#10) You’re in a Rush
Don’t ever rush into a huge project like a website redesign or website build! You’ll overlook really important strategic elements and potentially make financially crippling hiring decisions. Even if your website needed an overhaul yesterday, or you’re anxious to get going, DO NOT hire a freelance website designer just because you’re in a rush.
Take your time. Vet your candidates. Determine your actual website needs and priorities. Planning is the foundation for a successful website build. At Witty Kitty, we always start here while maintaining a quick turnaround time.
How to Hire a Website Designer and Developer
No matter who you decide to hire—freelance website designer or website design agency like 100% women-owned Witty Kitty—you need to know how to properly choose this important member of your marketing team. Here are some tips to hire a website designer. Additionally, here’s some more advice to help you decide if you should hire an internal employee or a marketing agency.
How Much Does a Website Cost to Build in 2020?
Websites range drastically in price—anywhere from a few thousand to over six figures. Depending on whether you use a prebuilt template like a WordPress theme or start from scratch with custom website functionality, your budget will vary. Read more about how much you should spend on a website in 2020. Here is some guidance to plan your marketing budget, too.
Signs Your Current Website Developer Sucks
Are you reading this article because you’re second-guessing your website designer? We’re sorry you’re going through that. Here are some red flags that may indicate it’s time to fire your freelancer or employee, and start fresh with an affordable website design agency like Witty Kitty.
Your website designer doesn’t ask questions at the kick-off of your project.
Any reputable web dev should ask a TON of questions about your business model, goals, branding/overall vibe, conversion needs, functionality needs, CMS preferences, and more. If they don’t ask questions, this is a very bad sign. It’s also a sure sign you won’t get the finished product you expect—and pay for.
They aren’t responsive.
If you consistently go days without responses, kick them to the curb. This is unacceptable.
Your web dev consistently miss deadlines.
Look, delays happen. However, these should be clearly communicated. You should always be briefed on why there’s a delay. If deadlines continue to whiz by without explanation, look for a new website designer.
They don’t know anything about SEO, content strategy, or design.
This is a huge issue. You don’t want to build a website that looks pretty and functions but doesn’t convert. That’s a HUGE waste of money.
Your dev puts design and aesthetics over UX and functionality.
Always ask for wireframes if you let a website designer dictate the aesthetics of your site. Plus, be very wary if they’re all about the creative side without any strategy involved.
You’re the one doing your website design, and you’re in over your head!
f you’re building your own website without proper training or expertise, it’s time to hire a professional.
They don’t ever give you a scope or budget, and continue to bill as they go.
This pricing model causes you to blow your budget. Plus, it shows that your website designer isn’t able to plan properly or manage time. Before you kick off a project, you should get a detailed scope including every deliverable (even if it’s just the amount of hours invested and what that entails). You should also have a set hourly rate or project cap to protect yourself.
Your designer is full of excuses without clear explanations.
While plenty does go wrong in the website development process (not due to anything your web dev does), issues should always be thoroughly explained. No smoke and mirrors ever.
They say they can do it all.
No website developer is a seasoned Jack or Jill of all trades. There’s no way they’re a top-notch copywriter, SEO strategist, content strategist, designer, and coder. If they say they can handle everything for you as one person, they’re either a unicorn or a liar.
We get it. It’s super overwhelming searching for a freelance website designer or someone you can truly trust to build your website. That’s why we always recommend starting off on the right foot with a website design agency like ours. We kick off every project with a deep dive into your business. Our team asks all the right questions, so you get the best results. Then, we set realistic expectations and timelines to get the job done—all within your budget. If this sounds like a dream come true, get in touch!