Web design companies are everywhere.
But what difference does it make if you choose someone down the road or on a different continent?
In this week’s blog I’ll give you some of the key pros and cons surrounding Where to Pick the Perfect Web Designer!
(By local I mean that you and your web designers can meet within 45 minutes.)
Choosing a company on your doorstep means you get to see their setup and put faces to names. Plus you can meet up on a regular basis (scoping and review meetings, dealing with problems, etc.) and there’s no doubt that being able to meet the team who will transform your vision into reality can make you feel much more comfortable about your choice.
You might find that a local company already has a good reputation in the area. It’s certainly worthwhile seeing if they’ve had any past press coverage or are members of the Chamber of Commerce, a breakfast business club, etc. Anything which helps you get a sense that they are part of a wider business community which is prepared to refer them has an obvious advantage.
Plus, they may have local knowledge of the area which might be of unique value to you. (I’ll come back to this in a minute.)
A big factor which may influence your choice is their price. If you live in a city expect to pay more than in a town and if you’re in London, expect to pay more than everybody! So, if you think you’re in a high-priced area it may be worth casting your net further afield. (I am assuming that you will be comparing similar companies.)
You may also find that there aren’t enough local web design companies you with the skills need which brings us on to…
Widening your search to a national level gives you greater choice. More choice means a higher likelihood of specialism and that means a higher probability that your specific needs will be met.
First off most companies will be prepared to meet with you (and the bigger your project the further they will travel to secure it). However, the longer the commute the fewer face-to-face meetings you will be able to have. And this is where the whole subject descends into personal choice…
Operating at distance from your web designers means that you’ll be remotely managing the project. However, it’s much easier than it sounds and there are plenty of tools available on the Internet which allow for excellent levels of collaboration. (Basecamp (project management), Skype, Twiddla (web based meetings), for example.)
For some remotely project managing their web development pushes too many panic buttons. Very often this type of person is more hands-on and needs the reassurance of meetings.
Another disadvantage of national companies (and this applies to choosing an international partner too) is that local knowledge may be essential. For example, if you are running a hotel in the middle of Inverness it is unlikely that a web design company in London would have a better sense of representing your business online than one in Inverness itself.
Perhaps the biggest motivator for locating your project offshore is price. With the American Dollar almost half the Pound and with the Indian market between £8 and £12/hour these are cost savings that are almost impossible to ignore.
To make it more appealing you will often find that offshore workers are just as clued-up and as motivated as those in the UK.
If you are really serious about off-shoring your project you may also want to consider Russia and the Baltic countries who are fast developing their technology skills.
This huge advantage is, however, counterbalanced by some potential disadvantages…
Project management can become a little tricky if your web designers are in a different parts of the world as you can easily lose a day here and there to time-zone issues.
Plus, it would be ludicrous not to acknowledge the fact that there are cultural differences between the UK and everywhere else. These differences may cloud communication and water down your project’s impact. For example, if your website was selling something uniquely British, say Alton Towers for example, you would hardly expect somebody in Delhi or Texas to be able to represent it as well as someone in the UK.
Another complication is payment. There are the usual methods such as, PayPal or SWIFT transfers (speak to your bank about this one) or you can use an Escrow service. This is where you deposit money with a 3rd party who only releases it when the job is complete. It tells the web designers you’re good for the money but stops them from disappearing without producing the goods. (You may want to check out “escrow services” in general on Google.)
Local, National or International – none of these choices is better than the other. It is entirely down to your personal preference but, hopefully, just by reading this through you will naturally prefer one over the rest. You should definitely go with your instinct on this because your preferred working style will give you a better relationship with your web designers and that will lead to a better website.