How to outsource web design in the right way
One of the most frustrating things about running a small business is knowing just how important it is to have a nicely designed website yet also how little there is to spend on it. Maybe you’ve tried working on it yourself but realised you don’t have the proper design skills or the time to tackle such a huge project from beginning to end.
If you’re faced with a situation where you need to evaluate outsourcing the web design of your website to a professional, don’t fret. Following are the most important things to consider when outsourcing your site’s design. While there are definite challenges, if you approach it in the right way, you can get great results quickly while also sticking to your budget.
Why (and when) is it a good idea to outsource web design?
Outsourcing web design is a great option when you don’t have the skills to work on your website design yourself, or when you have too much on your plate running your business. The amount of talent out there is unbelievable and whatever help you need, you are almost guaranteed to find a professional who can get the job done.
Here are some reasons to outsource:
Lack of time. While you may have the basic skills to make quick updates to your site, designing an entire website from scratch takes time. This is not something that you can do “on the side”, especially when you’re also in charge of running your business. A project like this takes focus and a significant amount of time so why not leave it to a professional while you focus on other important areas of your business?
Access to expert skills. Designing a website requires expert skills. You need a professional who understands that web design is more than artwork, who has extensive knowledge about how people use the web and how to design a website that is both attractive and easy to use.
Temporary needs. You may only need a web designer just for this project alone, and nothing else. If you don’t need or can’t afford to hire a highly skilled designer part-time or full-time, outsourcing is the perfect solution for you. You can bring in an expert for a defined period of time to help with designing your website, but without committing to them long term.
Save money. Even if the hourly or project rate is higher than that of an employee, you may save thousands of pounds by not committing to an annual salary and benefits, especially if your budget doesn’t allow it just yet.
A fresh perspective. You may already have a website up and running but your customers aren’t happy with it so you’re planning a redesign. Because an outsider doesn’t know your business as well as you do, they can think like your customers in ways that you simply can’t. They can see your business like a real customer would, and ask the same questions that your prospects might. Outsourcing can help stimulate news ideas that your new website could benefit from.
Planning you’ll need to do before outsourcing
Before your designer jumps in to the project, you need to have a plan in place. This plan needs to include the following:
You need to set a budget for the design of your website so you know how much you’re willing to invest. When you fail to budget properly, or when you don’t set a budget at all, one of the nightmare scenarios are likely to happen:
- The site design ends up costing much more than expected
- It will likely have half the desired functionality
- It will probably result in a series of compromises in design and functionality, making a mediocre impression on customers and prospects.
Also, when working with a limited budget, you can discuss with your designer about how you can creatively work around it. For example, they can advise you on where to get good quality images or fonts that you can use for your website that won’t cost you a penny.
A good start for setting your budget is to do some research into the market rate of a professional web designer. Look into the average hourly rate and how long a website design would take, and then use this information to set your budget.
Other things that can affect your design budget are:
- Whether you’d like to see multiple versions of the design so you have more to choose from
- If you need it finalised quickly, like in less than a week
Pulling a budget out of thin air, or committing your small business to a new site design without a budget at all, are risky approaches that can drain your bank account or set back the launch of your new site. So make sure to set a realistic budget along with realistic expectations for your site design so that you can get the look you want at a fair price.
The layout of your site
The next step is to sketch out the layout of your site and what you want it to do. Some things to consider include:
- How much customisation do you want? Will a standard theme suit your needs? Or do you need a custom design from the ground up?
- How many pages will your site have?
- What functionality do you need: contact forms, payment options?
- Will you provide the images?
Take the time to be as detailed as possible and give your designer the directions they need to get started. Showing them examples of sites, design elements and functionality that you like is always a good idea. This will help ensure that the designer understands the direction and how you’d like your site to look.
You get the idea. Dig into as many details as you can with your designer. This will prevent problems later on in the process.
Hiring a web designer pros and cons
Here are the pros and cons for getting a web designer to work on your site.
- They’re easy to find. With the rise in talent-pairing platforms, you don’t have to worry about finding a great web designer to work on your site. There are so many platforms online where you can post your project requirements and find good designers with the desired skills.
- They’re specialised and highly skilled. Since web designers run their own businesses, which thrive on repeat clients, they strive to turn in their best work all the time.
- Excellent for when you can’t find, can’t afford, or don’t need an in-house designer. With an independent contractor you hire them when you need them, so none of your money is wasted on downtime.
- High cost. Keep in mind that the quality of the design you’re after always dictates the numbers. So what can you expect to pay? According to The UK Web Design Association, a freelance web designer can charge about £200 per day but it can go much higher for very experienced designers.
- The danger they might disappear. Imagine things go great for a while. Work gets turned in on time, and it is of a high quality. Then something happens and they disappear, leaving you without access to your site. What do you do then?
- Multi-tasking. An independent contractor’s job is flexible and they get to set their own hours. This also means that they’re available on their schedule, but may not to be available on yours.