Hiring a freelance web designer has become extremely popular amongst small businesses and that shouldn’t be surprising. As a freelance web designer has all the skills needed to create a high-quality business website while offering small businesses lower costs and more flexibility than a full-service agency.
Today, more and more small businesses are turning to freelancers for web design and digital marketing work. Before doing the same for your business, here are five things you should know before hiring a freelance web designer.
Freelancers can Design and Develop a Website By Themselves
More people doesn’t automatically mean higher quality. When it comes to creating a website for your business, this is especially true.
The fact is, a freelance web designer or developer will have all of the skills needed to create a website from start to finish. This is true since the early days in the internet. Getting a website up online has always been possible with just a single person and with modern web design tools like Figma and WordPress speeding up the entire web design process, freelancers can build a website just as fast, if not faster than an entire team.
There is no reason to be concerned that just because you are hiring a single person as opposed to an agency, that the quality of the website will suffer. In fact, quite often a freelancer has experience working in a web design or digital marketing agency. That means they can bring the same level of knowledge and technical skills to your project that an agency would, but at a discounted cost to your business.
Not only can a freelancer bring the same expertise needed to build your website as an agency, but they also offer many benefits over agencies that may be a perfect fit for your business needs. See more of on that below.
The Difference Between a Web Designer and Developer
Before you making a hiring decision, it’s extremely important to learn the difference between a freelance web designer and developer.
In short, a web designer is responsible for creating the layout, color scheme, and overall design of a website. It is then the web developers' job to code that design and get it live on the internet.
Fortunately for small businesses, you don’t need to hire both to create a website for your business. In fact, either one should have all the skills and experience necessary to create your website forms start to finish. The line between web design and development has blurred so much over the years that they are more like two sides of the same coin, rather than completely separate disciplines.
So, how do you decide which one to hire?
It all comes down to what you need out of your site. If you are looking for a standard business website meant to advertise your services, promote your brand and generate leads, a web designer is your best bet. Web designers generally have a much better eye for design and usability, making them a good option for most types of websites.
However, if your business needs an extremely custom or technical website that requires things like logins or user profiles, e-commerce components, or a custom application built on top of your site, a web developer will be your best bet.
At the end of the day, the best way to decide which one to hire is to schedule a consultation with a freelancer and ask them direct questions about your project to see if they fit what you are looking for.
A Freelancer can Provide You with Increased Flexibility
Here we’re going to get into how a freelance web designer or developer may be a better fit for your business than a traditional design agency.
With a freelancer, you can form a 1:1 working relationship. This means that instead of going through a one size fits all process offered by most agencies, the process can be tailored specifically to your project.
This can lead to a simpler process that results in less stress for you and your team, while also delivering concrete benefits. Here is just a small sample of how the increased flexibility offered by a freelancer can help your business:
- Faster decision making, as it only takes two people to agree on something to move forward.
- A tailored process for your specific project that can result in fewer meetings and unnecessary steps in the design process.
- One person to go to for everything. When you're working with an agency, you may have multiple points of contacts for different areas of the project –which can make things confusing.
With a freelancer, your business gains a lot of flexibility in how you want to approach your website while also reducing costs –which is the subject of the next section.
A Freelancer can be more Cost Efficient
The economics which a freelancer works under allows them to run an extremely lean operation.
They aren’t subject to high overhead costs or liable for employee salaries or benefits –two of the biggest drives of operations expenses and these all have the potential to save your small business significant costs on the project.
Since a freelancer has much lower operational costs to deal with, they can afford to pass those savings directly on to you.
In fact, it’s one of the biggest advantages of working with a freelancer and opens the door to allow small businesses to still be able to have a great website.
In short, a freelancer can quote you a lower price for your project while still having all the tech skills needed to create a beautiful website for your business. And because they generally work solo, they can offer you a much more flexible and streamlined design process that can result in the project getting done a lot faster.
Not a bad combo, right?
Understand the Web Design Process
Before you sign the contract and hiring a freelancer, it’s important you know exactly what the web design process looks like.
Below is a brief, simplified outline of the modern web design process. However, every freelancer has a slightly different process, so we recommend asking them directly what theirs looks like before hiring them.
Research: During this phase, a freelancer will spend their time learning more about the client and the business, the industry they operate in, and the local competitive market. This phase serves as the foundation of the entire web design project. The insights gained during this phase will go on to influence the design direction, SEO strategy and overall messaging.
Design: The design phase is when the creative work finally gets started. The designer will start to create wireframes which allows the client to see what the website will look like before it’s online. This is a very collaborative process, as the client needs to give feedback to bring the design and copy closer to how they want it. Once the client approves the final design, it’s on to the next phase.
Development: This is the part of the project where the coding of the website gets done. Once the website hosting and WordPress installation are taken care of, it’s time to actually start developing the site and get it online. The developer will work off the wireframes created in the previous phase to develop the exact design approved by the client.
Launch: After a few rounds of quality assurance testing and making sure all elements of the site are complete, it’s time to launch the website. Once it’s online, you may decide to keep your freelancer around to perform digital marketing work that can increase the ROI of your website and help you generate leads. Things like SEO, Facebook or Instagram ads, and content marketing are all things a freelancer can do post-launch to help bring in traffic to a website.
The above is a brief overview of a typical web design process. However, it can vary a bit based on who you decide to hire and whatever the project priorities are. That’s why we always recommend asking a freelancer during a consultation call what their process looks like.
That way, there are no surprises on your end once the project starts.
There are lots of benefits to hiring a freelance web designer to create your business website. Overall, they can create a high-quality website for your business while offering you many advantages over a traditional web design agency.
At the end of the day, you should evaluate all your options before making a decision on who will create your website. But for small businesses, it’s clear that a freelancer can provide huge advantages over a traditional agency when it comes to web design.