When it comes to building a new website for your company, you’ll be faced with lots of decisions. Unless you are designing and developing it yourself, which we don’t exactly recommend (see Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Web Design for details), one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is who to hire. While working with a large digital agency may sound glamourous, it isn’t always the best option.
Big Guy vs Little Guy
There are pros and cons to working with an agency as well as small company or self-employed web designer. The best solution will depend greatly on your specific project needs. Let’s take a look at some of those needs so you can determine the best route for your project.
Top Quality Work
You don’t just need to get online, you need a functional, attractive, engaging website that’s going to attract visitors and turn them into customers. It needs to look great, work intuitively, be secure, have just the right tone to appeal to your ideal customer and outshine the competition. Developing a successful business website requires experience, knowledge, and skills.
You can find top quality work from agencies and freelancers and anything in between. However, if you are a small to medium-sized business, you likely have relatively modest web needs. A big agency may end up passing you off to a lower-level account management and design team. Reserving their best, top developers for larger, more involved projects that bring in the big bucks. You may still end up with a great looking and working website, but you may not get the very best the agency is capable of if a business like yours isn’t their ideal client. In that situation, you might be better off choosing a company that specializes in small to medium sized businesses. One that truly understands their unique needs. One where the quality of work doesn’t change with size of the client.
Specialized Skills & Custom Needs
When it comes to websites, custom is key. A website that is strategically designed and developed to target your audience, reach your goals, and showcase your products or skills is going to perform better than a templated website.
With an agency, they likely employee all kinds of skilled employees capable of creating and developing any custom application, fanciful animation, or add-on marketing service you can think of. And whether you need them or not, they are on the agency’s payroll and part of their overhead costs that get factored into the price of your website. With a freelancer, you’ll pay only for what you need but if you need photos and copy and custom app development and SEO, you may find yourself juggling multiple freelancers. For a small to medium sized business who’s not looking for an elaborate website with all the bells and whistles but doesn’t have a lot of extra time on their hands, neither of these options sound very good. Luckily, there’s a third option.
Since small to mid-sized companies are our specialty, we understand this dilemma. Which is why we partner with a carefully curated group of trusted professionals and other self-employed individuals to offer any additional services our clients may need. These include PPC, digital analytics, email marketing, copywriting, graphic design, custom app development and branding. This third option gives you access to unlimited design, development, and add-on marketing services, without having to pay for anything you don’t use because there’s no overhead in partnering with them and you still have one main point of contact.
Fits Your Budget
Quality web design doesn’t come cheap no matter who you hire. That being said, you still need to be able to justify the cost and get a return on your investment. You likely have a budget you need to stay within and want the best possible site for your money.
On average, agencies are going to be more expensive. As previously mentioned, they have a whole team of full-time employees and more overhead that drive up their hourly rates. I would, however, caution you away from a freelancer whose price seems too good to be true. In the end, you typically get what you pay for and anyone low-balling their price is probably cutting corners, has shoddy workmanship, delivers an unpleasant experience or charges extra for every little thing.
Ability to Meet Your Deadline
If you are launching a new product line, have an upcoming event or for any number or other reasons, it’s possible that you have a specific launch date in mind and it’s important that whoever you hire to build your website meets it.
With more resources, an agency may be better able to meet a tight deadline than an individual web designer. They’ll more easily be able to pull in additional employees to design, code and test the site, possibly having multiple people work on it at the same time. They may also have the ability to pay for overtime in order to complete your website in a shorter amount of time.
Level of Customer Service
This is a big one for us. We pride ourselves on truly great customer service. It is at the center of everything we undertake and think it makes all difference when it comes to developing a good website and a great website. The difference between one that functions properly and looks good and one that speaks to your customers and compels them to act.
At a reputable agency, you’ll likely get excellent customer service from an account manager. In an ideal situation, they’ll always be available when you need them to answer your call and pass along your question or comment to whoever is doing the work. The difference with an independent web designer is that the person who answers the phone, is often the person doing the work. There is no middleman, nothing gets lost in communication, there’s no false promises only to find out later that it isn’t possible. Because of this, we can offer a streamlined process that better meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
I’m not trying to tell you that agencies don’t do great work because plain and simple, they do. They do amazing things that inspire web designers and developers. They often lead trends and push innovation. What we’re trying to determine is which is better for the needs of your small- to medium -sized business. And bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
You need to hire a company or a designer that understands and appreciates small businesses. At Matt Gerber Designs, we get small businesses because we are a small business. They are the bread and butter of our business, our specialty. Unless you are looking for a website that can handle an Amazon-sized product catalog, needs an industry leading, cutting edge, never-before-seen custom web application or has an impossibly tight turn around, you might be better off with the little guy. You might get better service, more attention, more appreciation and more bang for your buck.
If you still have questions about which is best for you or if want to see if our small business is a good fit for your small business, give us a call at (414) 232-7862. We’d be happy to discuss your project and help you determine the perfect solution for your needs.