Choosing a Web Designer

Many small business owners struggle with deciding how to make the right choice for designing their websites. They search the web for help with their website and find that the choice is harder than they thought. Currently, there are (literally) millions of websites that claim to be professional web designers. However, one must be careful in choosing the right person or people to trust their company image. This article will attempt to categorize web designers into manageable groups and teach readers the difference between the types.

Web Designer

Web designers fall into four categories: freelance amateur, freelance professional, Web Design Company, and Web Development Firm.

Freelance Amateur

Most web designers you will encounter, especially when searching the Internet, are freelancers. That is, individuals who do web design but are not employed by a web design company. Some are self-employed professionals, but most freelancers are amateur hobbyists. They found a copy of FrontPage™ that came with their MS Office™ Suite. They discovered how fun it could be to make web pages, so they told their friends to “design” them.


The “pros” of using an amateur is that they are very cheap. The “cons” are too numerous to mention, but I’ll point out a few. They have no training; they have little knowledge of what makes a good website work; they do not understand HTML code or CSS but only FrontPage point and click; they do not understand general design and layout concepts, and they have little real experience. The biggest reason they should be avoided for the serious businessperson is that their work looks amateurish, making your company look unprofessional. Who wants that?

Freelance Professional

A professional is often defined by being paid. People think you are professional if you are paid for something. Maybe that’s true in the Olympics, but you are not a professional in the business services world until you are established and respected as one by your clients and peers. Freelancer professional web designers are a giant leap from the amateur in finding a portfolio of respectable work. They have qualified training, experience, and credentials that can be verified by contacting references. They have a good reputation with their clients and other professionals. Generally, a good freelance professional web designer can be a good person to do your site. But they are hard to distinguish from amateurs when just searching the web.

The upside is if you find a good one, they are significantly cheaper than a web design company. But that is usually the only upside. A freelancer will do it for a small project if the budget limits you. But anything significant should be left to a professional company.

Some downsides to using a freelance pro are that they are usually part-time, meaning they are limited in how much time they can devote to your project. They are also limited in what they can do for you. Most freelancers are specialists in one area and generalists in everything else. Some have no skills in anything except their one specialty, and often, you will have to find others to fill roles. In addition, freelancers are not always cheap, although many aspire to create their own company; some are highly sought after and charge $100 per hour or more for their work. If you have that much to spend, my advice is to go with a company with a team of professionals to get the job done promptly.

Web Design Company

This is the next step beyond being a freelance professional. The web design company offers the “whole show.” They provide real project management and have assembled a team of web experts to complete a wider range of jobs. A company can provide much more expertise in web design, programming, content development, and more.

Such a company is usually tiny yet large enough to handle large-scale projects. Compared to the most highly qualified freelancer, a company has diverse talent and collaboration working for it. The result is usually a much higher-quality product.

On the one hand, however, you get what you pay for, which rings true. His only real drawback is that the web design company is more expensive than freelancers because there are many more people. On the other hand, web design companies may be too small for huge projects or long-term development and usually do not have the human resources to accommodate that $500,000 contract. In the end, this is the way to go for serious business people looking for quality and professionalism who can’t afford the big firm.

Web Development Firm

As the title implies, a web development firm is like any traditional company. They have a staff of office workers, owners and officers, and a team of talented professionals who are paid a good salary. They often have a sales force that does inside and outside sales. The quality of their work goes without saying, as you could not be so well-established by doing shoddy work. These firms offer teams of very talented professionals who work on your project and get the job done in a timely and extremely efficient manner.
Additionally, they usually cover all aspects of website development, including marketing and advertising. They may have teams of specialists to deploy to your location and work in-house under a temporary contract. The possibilities are endless.

If price is not an issue and the highest quality work is necessary, then this is who you want to do the job. For smaller budget businesses, a quote from an established web development firm might knock you off your chair, but know that companies with project requirements that reach hundreds of thousands of dollars know the score. Thus, the only real drawback for a web development firm is that they are usually costly. Then again, the cost is relative, and bigger companies like to work with bigger companies.

In summary, the choice is yours. I recommend that serious businesspeople budget a decent amount to design and execute a professional website. I would avoid the amateur and outsource to an individual or company with good experience and reasonable rates to create my web presence. If money were no object, I would only deal with established firms and pay the big bucks to get the job done right and well.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.