Who to hire for your web site project
Local Web Companies: Companies in your area are a good solution if you need all sorts of different components in a web site or if you need someone to develop your online strategy from beginning to end. In this route, they are going to tell you what you need and be able to provide the full package. The cost will reflect this high level of service.
I recommend talking with past clients of the company to learn more about their process and reputation. Use the Internet to find these companies. Simply search your location with “web site design” (e.g. Indianapolis, Indiana web site design).
Freelancers: A professional web freelancer can provide a very high level of service, but is likely going to specialize in certain areas and not in others. It is not common that they may have worked for a big-name web firm and decided to go out on their own. They are probably really good at what they do.
The downfall is that there is so much to know in web development these days, most freelancers will not be able to offer all aspects that you might need without bringing in other resources. If they have good partners for those other resources, it might work out perfectly, just make sure they honest about what they are good at and not good at. You can always find another freelancer to fill in a gap.
A freelancer is going to be more cost effective than a large company. Again, a freelancer can be a great solution, just be willing to pull in other freelancers to fill in various roles of the project. Again, I recommend before hiring a freelancer is to check references and look at their portfolio.
College Students: Technology is on the rise and there is great talent in student work. The big advantage with student work is cost because a student will likely build you a site very inexpensively. The downfall in most cases is that they are just learning and probably don’t understand the whole picture of goals, search engine optimization, accessibility, and even all of the options out there. On the other hand, they have many resources in other students and professors to turn to for guidance.
A student is a good solution for a first web site and/or if you are willing to offer direction throughout the project.
Marketing Firms: From my experience, marketing or public relation firms are often in charge of web projects and typically partner with web developers or have a small staff devoted to web sites. They help guide and manage the project, as well as help with online strategy. If you need further marketing and public relations help, marketing firms might be your answer. A caution might be to make sure they partner with a good web site source and don’t just do them as an add-on to what they are really good at (marketing/pr).
Why not do it yourself? Unless you are a graphic designer with technology skills or a online guru who “gets” technology, I recommend that you not consider creating a web site yourself. The greatest reason is the same one that causes you to use a plumber to redo the kitchen faucet: experts do a better job than amateurs. Your web site is a representation of your company and you want it to be professional and include the best practices.
There are some very smart people out there who might be able to put something together, but the reality is that people who do this for a living can produce better end-results than someone trying to figure it out along the way.
Professional web designers spend their days creating web sites, building pages, optimizing graphics for fast delivery, thinking about site architecture for online-information, and keeping up on the never-ending array of new products, services, and design styles that appear online. Many of us spend our evenings and time “off” sharpening our skills too. Good web designers live and breathe web design.
Read another good article about doing it yourself versus hiring a professional.
Whomever you choose for your web site, TBH Creative recommends looking at the candidates’ portfolios and making sure the project scope is clear.