Different type of web design agencies
Which one is right for you?
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Choosing the right web designer can be very difficult as there are so many different web design/graphic/digital marketing agencies and freelancers out there that have a wide range of different strengths and weakness.
This guide will help you understand the different types of a web designer (their strengths and weaknesses) and the help with the decision-making problems you face when choosing the right Web Designer that is right for your business requirements.
Who’s this guide for? Anyone who needs to understand the different types of design agencies so they can make informed choices about which is best for them.
The 21st century plumber syndrome
Most of us have a friend that can recommend a good and reasonably priced plumber and due to our lack of experience, our default tendency is to go with our friend’s advice.
However, once the job has been done and the plumber has walked whistling from your door, you might then discover your toilet doesn’t flush, your radiator leaks or that some mysterious dark stain is spreading across your ceiling.
None of those unexpected events have been budgeted for but they are problems that must be fixed pronto.
These days everyone appears to know someone who can create web pages. With seemingly cheap and relatively easy to understand building tools, web designers have effectively become 21st century plumbers.
So like finding the right plumber, choosing the perfect web designer has become a minefield. If you don’t know what to look out for, the selection process can be plagued with copious niggly nasty surprises along the way.
The problems before you start choosing a web design agency
Every web design agency has an award
If you are choosing a web design agency based on them being ‘award winning’ then you are in for a shock because seemingly all web design agencies have awards. In fact, if you type “award winning web design agency” into the Google search bar you get 4,400,000 search results. Ouch! That doesn’t exactly help filter down your choice does it?
There is no web design agency governing body
Unlike many other professions, there is no governing body to tell you which web designers are the best to use and indeed which one are just darn right dangerous. The companies that recommend web design agencies may or may not be doing it for the right reasons, so it is always difficult to know who to trust.
They all have generic USP’s
Unless your web designer can miraculously make your website pick up the laundry in the morning or do the dishes, it’s very difficult for a web design Agency to translate effectively their USP’s which show a clear differentiation from their competition.
From a business owner’s perspective, this can be incredibly frustrating as you filter through 10’s of web design proposals, all saying pretty much the same thing but in a different way.
Given the sheer scale of the competition, web design agencies have been reluctant to truly specialise as this risks alienating other customers.
Unfortunately, this standpoint leaves you having to decide which proposal to accept based largely on the agencies promotional statements such as “we are freaking awesome”, “we’re all about talent” or “good design works”.
Case Studies Don’t Show the Whole Picture
We all love (possibly) routeing through Case Studies to see what a Web Design Company has done in the past and this approach is probably the best visual representation of how they can graphically design a website.
However, unless you have experience with Digital Marketing it is difficult to understand the technical side of the web design and to appreciate whether the design, however pretty, has been honed for digital marketing, or whether the website has been built in such a way that subsequent changes would be reasonable or expensive.
Reading through agency Blogs
One of the great ironies in web design and digital marketing is that even though we can’t recommend enough the importance of having a blog of your website, running a worthwhile, unique blog from a small/medium sized web design business perspective can be an enormous burden to the Agency, and it can deliver relatively little traffic in terms of SEO.
The reason for this is because the competition is so high with literally hundreds of web design magazines, blogs and journals to compete with, it can be seen in the industry as ‘fool’s gold’.
Unfortunately, you the customer might very well choose your web design agency based on their blog and social presence, but some agencies use cheap methods to cut down their cost by regurgitating content they previously found on other websites.
So where does that leave you? Well, you have location, recommendation, personality and price which actually are the 4 most common decision-making factors companies make when choosing a web design agency.
The only problem with this is that they are the four most unrelated technical requirements you should be focusing on. It’s not your fault, it’s the industry and we are here to help.
Type of web designers
Web designing used to be a straight forward job. You were effectively someone that could build a website using code. You were a computer geek that had the technical skills to understand how to move elements across a page and appear on the ever so impressive world wide web.
Today web designer can mean many things and choosing the right web designer can be one of the most important decisions you are likely to make.
Here is a list of type of web design agencies you are likely to choose from;
The freelance web designer
A freelancer is a self-employed person offering services, usually to multiple clients at a time. They have flexible hours and work similarly to an independent contractor.
They are fundamentally more affordable and are used by a number of larger agencies to carry out specific tasks for their clients.
- Very affordable hourly pricing
- Can perform tasks based on their work schedule
- Can receive great value for skilled specialised work
- Can normally view their work through freelancer websites
- Are the less skilled (there are exceptions)
- Have little or no marketing experience
- Limited skill set
- Need a lot of guidance
- The initial price is never the price you end up having to pay
The freelance market has been growing and is one of the main reasons why there are so many web designers available with a much lower “perceived value” as in recent years.
Freelancers are considered great value because they have no overheads and some may have worked in previous web design positions so already have corporate agency experience.
However, anyone can be a freelancer and even having a portfolio of just website you can still advertise your expertise on freelance websites and sell your services.
The small digital marketing agency
A digital marketing agency is a company that promotes clients online using digital technologies such as SEO, social media, PPC and video.
They live and die by their ability to improve client’s sales and normally have a high client turnaround.
They will generally have a number of different departments for each digital technology and will also have a design team which creates websites, graphics and design elements that can be used in online promotions.
- Your design will be focused on improving leads, conversions and sales
- Your website will be properly SEO’d
- They are nutty about data
- You will have properly installed tracking
- You’re immediately able to start marketing your website
- The website may lack graphic design elements
- They are nutty about data
- Can be expensive
- They will try to sell you more stuff because they are marketers
The small web design agency (in-house staff)
A small web design agency would normally consist of a company of 2-5 employees. They normally specialise working with SME’s and come from a heavy design background.
Although they may have experience in digital marketing, it is not a strong skill set for them so they will more often than not hire in marketing freelancers to perform such tasks.
None of their web design work is likely to be geared towards digital marketing and they will have limited abilities to enable you to start marketing your business online straight away, other than trying to move up in the rankings.
- Normally the prettiest looking websites
- You will receive other services like brochures & logos to a good standard
- Their price is likely to be fair
- They will be very personable and friendly
- The website will not be built to improve conversions
- Marketing online will therefore cost more than it should
- The website may be difficult to manage yourself
The graphic design agency
A graphic design agency is a company focused around creating brands. Their main focus is to understand your business and design a creative logo, brochure and packaging that you can use for your product/service.
Although they may have limited experience in web design, this is not their first skill. They will not be up to date with all the latest web design advancements and have hardly a clue about digital marketing.
- Best for branding
- Will take the time to understand your vision
- Normally just a bit more expensive than a small web design agency
- The team are not web designers
- The website will not be built with digital marketing in mind
- The website will not be built to increase conversions