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Thought Leadership

Venture Beat – The 4 Dangers Of Hiring A Web Designer + Response

Venture Beat posted an extremely offensive article today talking about the dangers of hiring a web designer. Yes, this was sponsored, but it’s pretty shallow and minimally thought out. Full article here… you should read it –

Here’s our response from our Creative Director, Jason Schwartz. This is borderline offensive and honestly, pretty shitty especially coming from someone “in our industry,” sorry guys. Whomever put this garbage together should really dig deep into what a “web designer” does, the problems they solve and how the good ones work.

1. They’re expensive.

Great web designers of varying levels of skill sets and talent range in price. They also do different things. If you are approaching this from a “make me something pretty” standpoint, yes it might be expensive to reskin your brand. However, that said, web designers often solve problems working on websites, mobile sites and applications (as well as marketing) that can wholly change your business.

For example, changing the experience of how people check-out of your store, use your product online, or even engage with you can mean the difference of millions of dollars, active returning brand fans and even business development.

If you are saying that $50,000 for intimate problem solving and shoring up user experience on a website that annually nets millions of dollars, you are insane. Creating good experiences allows people to come back and engage with you in the future.

If that costs money, so be it. If you don’t think it’s worth spending money creating, updating and growing the digital tools for your brand, you probably are misinformed about what a “web designer” does anyway in this day and age. Web designers solve problems with your interactive properties to make you money and convert people to do what you want them to do.

Gone are the days of pretty pictures. We’re smarter than that, folks.

2. They’re too slow.

“The beauty of the web is the speed it allows business to happen.” Agreed, there are also web designers out there who are willing to jump daily on projects for you. Projects happen at varying speeds and honestly, that depends on what goes into making it happen.

There is no excuse for poor communication and slow execution from any employee/contractor that you hire, however let’s take this AdWords campaign for example and break it down. Calendars should be set by the company paying a web designer to do work for them.

Set deliverable dates! A marketing person needs to lead with specific messaging and intent. They need to work with the designer to make sure that what is being launched to handle that traffic is correct. Unfortunately, that’n not even a designer problem.

Non-updated headlines, elements below the fold etc should’ve been shored up in QA. Do you not look at the work people are doing for you? ESPECIALLY, if they are contractors and you are spending $10,000/day on it? C’mon, last time I checked, that’s a pretty big budget.

So much in fact that there should be multiple QA checkpoints. If the designer billed you for less than an hour of work on that, kind of sounds like the designer wasn’t that expensive (See Point 1 after all) and that sounds like bad campaign management.

3. They don’t know your business.

It is the business of a good designer to not only be able to make something attractive, but as your relationship grows, be able to solve creative and experience issues that should improve the ways users use your interactive properties.

Over years, yes a design should know pretty well what you do. That’s been a long-term partnership that probably expanded beyond your website. “I had the data that showed this change had lowered by conversion rates by over 35 percent, and I know how much that was costing my business.”

That is your responsibility as a manager to assign to-dos to your designer to make that change. Not only that, but if this sticky-point can raise/lower conversion rates by THAT MUCH, there should be whole additional conversations about what this interaction should be doing in full.

That conversation includes management, QA, designers, developers and marketing. Remember, you are leading someone to do work for you, lead them, its your responsibility as well to make this successful.

4. They can disappear with your website

Every reputable designer has a contract. In that contract it should very clearly state how check-ins, hand-offs and site updates and Git pushes should happen. As a manager it is your responsibility to set up a project calendar that clearly includes these dates.

The reason why contractors have different rates has to do with this as well as talent. You want to work with someone who is “legit,” that means they need to make themselves a legitimate and active registered LLC and costs go up.

“After a couple of months the guy decided to leave the country” shouldn’t matter. If having accountability as a company/LLC is important for you to go after them, use web designers that are registered as a business. Most are. Being in the country shouldn’t matter at all.

After all this is the “Web.” Good work and amazing projects happen with teams scattered across the globe. There has never been a single instance in the 7 years of my interactive company that I’ve had to drive to a developers house to find them. Contracts are pretty cut and dry. Use them to control project flow.  

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