Web Developers - The Four Levels
by Brian Rideout • January 22, 2016
There are four levels of Web Developers or Designers and knowing what they are, how to recognize them, and making an informed choice when choosing the right one for your needs can save you a lot of grief, perhaps even from paying multiple times to get the project done right. To help visualize them we've picked a fish to represent each one.
Level #1, the Goldfish, may very well be you. It's the DIY (Do It Yourself) approach. There are many on-line tools out there today such as WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, etc that allow you to create an account and immediately build a website. That immediacy and low cost are hugely appealing to many people, but it's also one of the reasons the DIY web development project rarely succeeds. We find that most DIY folks love jumping in and getting started but they rarely do strategic planning before they start building. Kind of like the contractor that puts up the walls before they remember to dig the basement. Web development done properly has a very defined and progressive set of tasks. Not doing the right tasks in the right order, (or not knowing a task even exists) can really bit the DIY Web developer in the butt.
Level #2, the Fancy Guppy, also knows as the Friend, Cousin, My kid. These projects are often still inexpensive, generally payment is in the form of pizza and Mountain Dew, maybe beer if the "Web Developer" is over 21. Often the Fancy Guppy has some skills, typically either artistic or technical, but rarely both. Web Development is a Left Brain AND Right Brain task. Left Brain artistic skills to make it look great, Right Brain Web programming skills to pull it all together and make it work. At BANG!, we use 2 or more people to get these skill sets. Pizza and Dew though as compensation make it tough to get high level skill sets and don't count on those incentives to get future work done. We've run into plenty of projects where the client's son started the project and we were called in to finish it.
Level #3, the Angel Fish, AKA the 1st professional designer many client's hire. Here you are going to be paying cash for the design and development but the Angel Fish often works alone out of their bedroom and still suffers from the Left Brain Right Brain challenges. More likely to be competent at either Web Design (making the website look great) or Web Development (programming to make sure it works well), but again rarely do you find one person that does both sides well. Since becoming a "Web Designer" doesn't require a degree and the tools are inexpensive, we find a lot of individuals that decide one day they are going to go into business as a Web Designer. Unfortunately as IRS Small Business statistics show, 90% of business startups don't make it 5 years in business before calling it quits. Then who is going to take care of your site?
Level #4, the Shark, AKA the Web Design Firm, and in our case the Phoenix Web Design Firm. At this level you've got a true Web design company, not just 1 guy cranking out sites. A competent firm will take a very strategic approach to developing a site. Starting with analysis of who you are and who your prospective client's or customers are. What problems are they trying to solve and what keyword phrases do they search for when searching for solutions at Google. There will be a designer to take care of the anesthetic portion of the site and a developer or two for any higher level Web programming that needs done. An SEO expert will likely craft page names, titles, headlines, URL's and body copy giving you every advantage in the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages) going for that #1 ranking. If you are lucky you connect with a firm like the BANG! team that uses a project manager so you don't have to interact with everyone on the Web design firm's staff to get the project done. One point of contact makes everything easier for both sides and improves the final product. Web design companies at this level likely cost more and will take longer to build the site, as they aren't cutting corners and skipping tasks that should be done and that Goldfish and Guppies aren't even aware of. The end result though will be a stellar site that not only looks great, performs 100% of the time, but meets your goals of generating new business. Isn't that the reason you wanted a website to begin with?
I suppose there is a level #5 as well, perhaps you'd call this level a Whale, an even larger firm with many Web Designers, Web Developers and SEO Experts who may work together on one project or on many projects. But at what point do you give up personal service for sheer size? We like our size and don't expect to ever grow so large that we don't know all of our customers on a first name basis. At our staffing level (under a dozen staff) we still individually care and take care of our client's needs. We aren't a factory spitting out as many websites as we can.
So there you have it the 4 or maybe 5 levels of Web Design Companies. Which one is right for you? Obviously at some point budget dictates who you can afford, but we suggest that doing it right the first time has lots of value. You'll get results and ROI from the site a lot faster when a true professional Web design firm handles the project. Want to see our approach? Contact us here!