Another blog where you can blame the prospect

The mock-ups discussion in last two blog entries still leaves me dis-satisfied.

I have 1 non-profit and 9 ecommerce web sites going, and after looking at portfolios of hundreds of designers, still have found only 2-3 that get the job done for me.

Now imagine the plight of a business owner who isn’t even focused so much on the Web.

It is REALLY hard to find good designers, and here’s why:

1. Sites like eLance, as many of you noted, generally provide a long list of people with mediocre portfolios and general focus (“we do it all!”), and do not engender trust.

2. Doing a Google search for web designers/developers is a disaster for a prospect. Thousands of me-too firms come up, whether at the top of page one or the bottom of page 10. There is absolutely no way to know whom to contact.

3. While local firms might do well with word of mouth and community service, they rarely have portfolios that meet MY specific needs (“MY” meaning the business owner’s specific industry and likes/dislikes).

4. Designers and developers talk their language, not the business owner’s.

5. Based on many replies to previous blog entries, many (not all) designers and developers take a holier than thou, I’m right/you the customer are wrong, tone. This is an immediate turn off to a prospect.

6. Someone mentioned “portfolio, portfolio, portfolio.” Well, that’s the #5 kind of attitude. To me, all portfolios look kind of similar, because I don’t have your graphic design or development distinctions. Unless you’ve done something very close to what I want, and unless it meets my specs, it’s hard for me to get it. My fault or yours?

7. When I interview designers, the process is often disappointing. Designers/developers with supposedly great credentials show up late for meetings, can’t start a project for a few weeks, make no promises (even ballpark range) about timelines, haven’t tried to understand my business, etc. So the interview process cuts out more supposed talent. Businesspeople outside the creative/technical realm take it for granted that professionals are professional.

So while it is hard for many of you to find good, qualified prospects, it is just as hard for many of us to find good, qualified web designers/developers. Probably harder.

The next couple of weeks will go back to basics to try to resolve this dilemma.

Okay, go ahead, blame the prospects. It’s our fault that we can’t find good designers, right?

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • http://www.wraithdragonmedia.com.au WDM

    yup.

    =P

  • http://www.jamesinteractive.com ecaptus

    Andrew,

    I agree 100% with what you are saying. But I think you are going to find similar frustrations in any business where there are no qualifications to enter. Anybody can claim to be a web designer now. All you need is a web site. You don’t need a degree, or even to be out of high school. This must make the selection process difficult for a prospective client because the internet provides much anonymity. It’s difficult to see the wizard behind the curtain.

    I think that is why it is important to find a niche, as you have written about before. I’m searching for my niche now, because I know it would be difficult to compete in this saturated market. Even if my firm’s skills are superior, I still have to compete with much cheaper rates. Finding a niche will eliminate (hopefully) competing with these firms, which sound similar to those on elance.

    Steve

  • http://www.spoiltchild.com LittleFigment

    Your problem is simple. You just havnt found me yet :)
    http://www.spoiltchild.com/

  • mx2k

    since this was an unprofessional blog, i will
    respond in kind.

    if all you do is google and look on elance, then, i suggest a change in tatics. Networking, contacting people through the aiga and other organizations (even here on sitepoint, asking friends and other people for referals.

    however i do agree web designers should not be late to meetings and should be able to give you time lines, at least the real professional ones can.

    Some are scared to give time lines because they are forced to over exggerate their time due to clients springing up last minute changes or constantly not approving items, or running into an unforseen development snag themself. and if they do give a time line that is too long a client will just go else where. so its a catch 22.

    As for not being to start right away, some designers (especially small firms or just a one person outfit who don’t have alot of man power) have previous obligations and time lines to meet and since you are worried about time lines you should at least be a little more understanding with that.

    Now if you want your project right away, then its time to look at a bigger, usually more costly firm, that has the man power to do so.

    alot of getting what you want and how you want it comes down to how much you are willing to pay. If you are trying to get something for nothing, you’re going pretty much get something very close to nothing.

    As for technical bable and designers…. communication is a two way street. Designers are not mind readers just as business people are not techno babble interpreters. Alot of business people do not know how to communicate effeciently what they want, much less what they need.

    and point blank, some designers will do exactly what you want, but alot of times they are just warning you of the downside, just as a mechanic does when you have a faulty battery or that you are doing something that might hurt you in the long run.

    the client should get the last call, but since it is my field of expertise, its at least my duty to warn them of the pros and cons of their decision. Once I have done that, any decision that you have made, good or bad, you will have to be responsible for.

    web designers get burned all the time, but then again, i see customers get burned too by paying $250 for a one page site with a design from the time of dancing 7up spots, twinkling animations, under construction gifs, and front page / geocities layouts. So again another two way street.

    Finding a good web designer or web design team is like finding a good mechanic, and if you find one, stick with em.

    but word to the wise, you are not going to get designers to follow you on this one, especially the smaller firms that have had too many bad experiences from customers who have gotten one too many over on them.

    there is a lack of good business/client relationships because of all the businesses and corps who are out to get a heathly bottom line no matter what unethical practice they may have to take to save money and cut costs for the shareholders.

    and last but not least, most of the great designers, are just that, designers, many of them are not great business people. the great business people are the ones that sucker their customers into paying too much for half the quality. =) (ok a little over exaggeration in most cases)

    nothing bad against businness people or great sales and marketing guys, its just rare to find both a great designer who is sales savy and great with people. (they often have to spend alot of time alone).

    but this sounds like a blog with more of a personal agenda, rather than furthering knowledge. Like any kind of relationship, its a two way street and it takes two to make it work. Both sides should work better to understanding each other’s needs and business, because its sounds like that you do not understand our business just as the web designer that didn’t try to understand your business.

    and most professional designers will at least try to understand your business before they design, because design is problem solving and the designer should at least know your business and your problem before they try to solve it.

  • http://www.rswarren.com Robert Warren

    Andrew,

    I think a big part of why you’re left unsatisfied is because your blog is titled “Selling Web Design Services”, and not “Selling Me The Web Design Services I Want”. It’s a perspective thing: what’s best for growing a business isn’t always what’s best for an individual client. You know that.

    Ideally, any client would love to get absolutely knockout work for free – hell, let the vendor pay the client for the privilege while we’re at it – and still get all the perks, bells, whistles and catcalls; show me one prospect who wouldn’t. But businesspeople can’t do that, because it would be detrimental to their ability to serve their *other* clients (not to mention remain profitable). Folks have the make decisions, such as not letting little Timmy eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

    #1 should be a common-sense no-brainer.

    #2 is no different from any direct marketing first contact: direct mail, cold calls, etc. (I’m supposed to read a letter – or a website – and know that this is the firm for me?). It’s also a factor of generic marketing – a lot of designers can build very pretty sites, but they’re undistinguished. They mostly all look the same to me. #6 is also about that problem.

    #3 and #6 are about reality. From experience I can say that most prospects aren’t going to find a needs match in a portfolio; that’s not the point of having one. Also, IIRC, the “portfolio, portfolio, portfolio” comment was made in addressing why designers low-bid on eLance – to build one. Perhaps I misread.

    #5 is more perspective. The tone you’ve been getting isn’t that the client/prospect is wrong; it’s that they think *you’re* wrong. Sometimes the client/prospect is wrong. If you don’t like the balance in your checkbook, do you go to the bank and complain that you should have more money? You’re the customer, and the bank has lots. Shouldn’t they be working harder to keep you from going down the road to a competitor? What if the competitor isn’t willing to do it either?

    #4 and #7 are dead on, but to be honest, it happens on both sides of the fence – I’ve gotten all that same behavior from prospects (and occasionally clients). Face it, it’s all about Sturgeon’s Law; gather your options, pull the weeds, see what’s left. Economists call it “creative destruction”.

    Andrew, seriously, if you can’t find a good web designer, maybe you should be examining your attitudes towards finding (and keeping) one. No offense, man, but you’re obviously attracting the wrong types.

  • http://www.tayfusion.com paulmc

    In the short time my company has been active, I have found that if you approach a meeting with a prospect as you would a meeting with your bank manager to secure funding and apply research, preparation and presentation; the effort is immediately recognisable to the them and you stand a much greater chance of success.

    I’ve heard from some clients that they have had designers/developers turn up in jeans, trainers, un-shaven and generally looking like they just stepped out of bed; probably one of the reasons they are my clients.

    As far as portfolio goes, this can be very misleading. I for one only publish a small selection of clients but will provide contact details for prospects who wish to obtain references.

    From a prospects point of view, it must be an extremely difficult task to find a design firm due to the saturation level, especially within search engines. I still remain unconvinced that prospects actually find their design firms via SE’s, howevever, perhaps someone can correct me on this.

    In the end, as it has been stated many many times before; be a businessman first and a designer once you have secured the contract.

  • http://www.rswarren.com Robert Warren

    Paul,

    I get plenty of website traffic (good placement on Google), but *shudder* I certainly hope that no one’s planning to hire me blind off a search engine.

    I’ve never gotten an immediate sale off Google.. people find me, read over my materials, and then if possible *I* contact *them*. As far as I’m concerned, it’s my job to secure the relationship, because I know better my value than they do. SE’s have been a great way to find leads, but it takes some legwork and time to turn them into legitimate prospects.

    Agreed on all your points.

  • http://www.tayfusion.com paulmc

    I’m still finding that the majority of visits I receive from SE’s (including PPC) are from my competitors. Most of my leads (and of course this may change at some point) come from offline marketing and referrals.

    I think you hit the nail on the head Robert, when you state that ” I know better my value then they do” I think that what many designers/developers need to do (I was lucky coming from a management background) is learn how to capatilise on this fact and ensure the prospect walks away with a clear vision of exactly what that value represents in terms of long-term relationship and bottom line.

    It’s fundamental sales, which I know, not everyone is comfortable with. Being able to express your USP in a way that enagages and captivates the prospect is an area that all business professionals (not just those in our industry) need to ensure they master.

    I spend 80% of the time cultivating/marketing and selling my services to prospects and 20% involved in development now, it’s the progression that anyone looking to establish a successful company must face and you’re right; it does take a lot of legwork.

  • Jonathan Snook

    In running your own business, not only must you be good at what you do (be that design, development, or whatever), you must also be a good project manager. Client expectations are and likely always will be the number one priority.

    I find one of the key ways to manage those expectations is to really detail the design process and require client sign off at various stages. Make it clear that changes after those sign off periods can impact cost and timeline.

    It should then be very simple to establish a timeline on the expected amount of work.

  • RSymonds

    I have been in this business about six years now and have been on both sides of the fence. I do not agree 100% with everything Andrew says on this site but I do agree with the points he makes in this particular blog post.

    One thing that I have noticed is that many developers and designers don’t feel that it is necessary to be professional. Professional doesn’t mean having a nice site. Professional means (among other things): appropriate attire, punctuality, adaquete preparation for meetings and discussions, integrity, thoroughness, acting respectful,
    listening, understanding your prospect’s and client’s business and being able to communicate with them on their terms, being able to meet their needs and understanding that what you do is a means to a business end.

    I have worked as a manager of developers and as a client hiring developers and I have been frustrated by a lack of all those professional attributes over and over again.
    Before you get worked up though, let me tell you one other thing: I was a developer
    in the beginning and I lacked all those attributes myself and I suffered because of
    it. The company I worked for suffered because of it and so didn’t the clients.

    I imagine many of you developers may be offended by Andrew’s blog post. Before you do though, realize that these same things Andrew is compaining of are the same things that *many* people complain about in respect to web developers.

    Instead of pushing the blame back onto Andrew or our prospects, we need to take it back on ourselves because then we have the power to actually do something about it.

    We should pay attention to what is being said here and use it to bring our businesses to the next level. Although Andrew may be a sort of atypical prospect, this blog post is very helpful. Basically, we have a prospect here telling us all the things he feels are barriers to him as a prospect doing business with us as business owners. I think it’s invaluable.

  • Bailey

    This discussion leaves me dissatisfied too. I’ll start reading Andrew’s column again when it gets back to something a bit less whiny. ;)

    :) Bailey

  • http://www.rswarren.com Robert Warren

    I’m going to make one last post and then get back to work.. promise.. :)

    One thought. In a lot of ways, the “customer is always right” mentality can actually *create* many of the problems that Andrew is having. A vendor willing to bend to every demand is one who establishes little to no expectations or standards. It’s hard to build trust without up-front ground rules.

    When I first started, I kept all my important process info (rates, terms, etc.) to myself until there was a prospect sitting in front of me; my attitude was, no sense in giving it away to the competition, right? Also didn’t want to chase away any prospects. Since then I’ve learned to do the opposite – the more up front and clear I am about how I do business, the more and better work has come my way as a result. Even better, the trouble children don’t even waste my time anymore.

    Every so often I find myself shopping for web designers; many of them don’t even offer real contact information, much less any idea how they do business. I skip right over them – it’s a matter of credibility, you know?

    There’s a difference between being in business and just being a developer for hire. If more vendors were willing to lose business, more vendors would be getting business.

  • http://redferret.co.za redferret

    I think that unlike many other disciplines, web design is born from a time where any high school kid who understood HTML called themselves a web designer, creating a challenge for those professionals or are real developers of web-based software (whether websites web apps, or whatever) to break this conception of the field.

    Every time a web designer shows up to a meeting scruffy and with an unprofessional attitude, they only reinforce the perception that web design is the realm of the immature and childish. Every time you dot your i’s and cross your t’s, you show someone else that this is a profession, just like any other – and I strongly believe that a prospect who has seen this will never go back.

  • mx2k

    hey you can blame it on the prospects for paying those kids who worked in their parent’s basement using pirated software in order to get cheap labor, but some of those kids did grow up and probably set alot of standards and hacks that we use today.

    should clothes make the man? theortically no.

    but we live in a society of shallow people easily impressed by a good looking person in a suit. (in fact not only does dress have an effect on what people buy, so does the actual build and attractiveness of the person). its the subconscience leading to the fact that you would rather work with a better looking and better dressed person.

    so web designers should take that into prespective and dress appropiately. if i’m designing, yeah i’m all about being comfortable, but if it is a client, time to throw own the black slacks, shirt and tie. personally i disagree that i should have to do this, but again i do it for the person i am meeting, not me.

    Its like anything. If have to get in front of people on a sunday morning in a church, I dress up, not for me, but for them, so they have one less reason to judge me (cause people are human and they will try to find something). if i just go and its just for me, then i’m sporting jeans and maybe a polo shirt.

    but from a different perspective for those prospects, if you went to buy mulch, would expect to see a guy in suit? if you went to see a mechanic, do you expect him to greet you in a suit and then go change to work on your car? probably not. why? because they dress for their profession.

    people that tend to do artistic work, usually tend to dress artistically.

    so be careful if you plan to buy something from someone just because they can walk and talk with a professional manner.

    basically i could probably dress up a kid and teach him to say the right things and that would probably be enough to make the sell for some prospects in the name of looking professional.

    yet another two way street.

    and business people often define the world as they see it should be, not as it truly is or as it really should be.

    ultimately what is deemed professional by looks or appearance is subjective to each person’s own personal world view and cultural views.

    what should be important is integrity, high level communication skills, problem solving, level of talent needed to complete the desired task, good work ethics.

    as for an holier than thou attitude, its a blog, some people don’t act that way to their customers, but they like all people have opinions and this is a place to give an opinion.

    and if any one has a holier than thou attitude its most prospects who don’t know better. I suggest reading some aiga books on things like professional practices in design.

    but i think alot of problems come from prospects trying to get something for nothing. If you want someone more professional, start paying a higher price…

  • mx2k

    hey you can blame it on the prospects for paying those kids who worked in their parent’s basement using pirated software in order to get cheap labor, but some of those kids did grow up and probably set alot of standards and hacks that we use today.

    should clothes make the man? theortically no.

    but we live in a society of shallow people easily impressed by a good looking person in a suit. (in fact not only does dress have an effect on what people buy, so does the actual build and attractiveness of the person). its the subconscience leading to the fact that you would rather work with a better looking and better dressed person.

    so web designers should take that into prespective and dress appropiately. if i’m designing, yeah i’m all about being comfortable, but if it is a client, time to throw own the black slacks, shirt and tie. personally i disagree that i should have to do this, but again i do it for the person i am meeting, not me.

    Its like anything. If have to get in front of people on a sunday morning in a church, I dress up, not for me, but for them, so they have one less reason to judge me (cause people are human and they will try to find something). if i just go and its just for me, then i’m sporting jeans and maybe a polo shirt.

    but from a different perspective for those prospects, if you went to buy mulch, would expect to see a guy in suit? if you went to see a mechanic, do you expect him to greet you in a suit and then go change to work on your car? probably not. why? because they dress for their profession.

    people that tend to do artistic work, usually tend to dress artistically.

    so be careful if you plan to buy something from someone just because they can walk and talk with a professional manner.

    basically i could probably dress up a kid and teach him to say the right things and that would probably be enough to make the sell for some prospects in the name of looking professional.

    yet another two way street.

    and business people often define the world as they see it should be, not as it truly is or as it really should be.

    ultimately what is deemed professional by looks or appearance is subjective to each person’s own personal world view and cultural views.

    what should be important is integrity, high level communication skills, problem solving, level of talent needed to complete the desired task, good work ethics.

    as for an holier than thou attitude, its a blog, some people don’t act that way to their customers, but they like all people have opinions and this is a place to give an opinion.

    and if any one has a holier than thou attitude its most prospects who don’t know better. I suggest reading some aiga books on things like professional practices in design.

    but i think alot of problems come from prospects trying to get something for nothing. If you want someone more professional, start paying a higher price…

  • mx2k

    hey you can blame it on the prospects for paying those kids who worked in their parent’s basement using pirated software in order to get cheap labor, but some of those kids did grow up and probably set alot of standards and hacks that we use today.

    should clothes make the man? theortically no.

    but we live in a society of shallow people easily impressed by a good looking person in a suit. (in fact not only does dress have an effect on what people buy, so does the actual build and attractiveness of the person). its the subconscience leading to the fact that you would rather work with a better looking and better dressed person.

    so web designers should take that into prespective and dress appropiately. if i’m designing, yeah i’m all about being comfortable, but if it is a client, time to throw own the black slacks, shirt and tie. personally i disagree that i should have to do this, but again i do it for the person i am meeting, not me.

    Its like anything. If have to get in front of people on a sunday morning in a church, I dress up, not for me, but for them, so they have one less reason to judge me (cause people are human and they will try to find something). if i just go and its just for me, then i’m sporting jeans and maybe a polo shirt.

    but from a different perspective for those prospects, if you went to buy mulch, would expect to see a guy in suit? if you went to see a mechanic, do you expect him to greet you in a suit and then go change to work on your car? probably not. why? because they dress for their profession.

    people that tend to do artistic work, usually tend to dress artistically.

    so be careful if you plan to buy something from someone just because they can walk and talk with a professional manner.

    basically i could probably dress up a kid and teach him to say the right things and that would probably be enough to make the sell for some prospects in the name of looking professional.

    yet another two way street.

    and business people often define the world as they see it should be, not as it truly is or as it really should be.

    ultimately what is deemed professional by looks or appearance is subjective to each person’s own personal world view and cultural views.

    what should be important is integrity, high level communication skills, problem solving, level of talent needed to complete the desired task, good work ethics.

    as for an holier than thou attitude, its a blog, some people don’t act that way to their customers, but they like all people have opinions and this is a place to give an opinion.

    and if any one has a holier than thou attitude its most prospects who don’t know better. I suggest reading some aiga books on things like professional practices in design.

    but i think alot of problems come from prospects trying to get something for nothing. If you want someone more professional, start paying a higher price…

  • mx2k

    sorry didn’t mean for the multiple posts

  • http://www.bluesagedesigns.com BlueSage

    A marketing/sales person’s point of view:

    In my experience, it is much more profitable to develop a verbal relationship, communicate so as to develop a mock up (which established credibility), and then, once the client sees that I know what I am doing and that I understand their goals and objects, I give them a price.

    Before relationship, communication, and understanding price is really meaningless. Using this method, I have closed almost 90% of the projects I have quoted, and more than doubled my average monthly billings – both for my employer and for my own company.

    Of course, I am summarizing a complicated issue, but I strongly believe in developing relationship and “free samples.” :D

  • http://www.rockymountainpc.com jlrosine

    I’m surprised that a developer, or multiple developers, would ditch Andrew or be late to a meeting. I wouldn’t dream of being late or not calling a client back promptly. I wish every week I could find more clients that know what the hell they are doing like Andrew, and I’d do my best to make them happy if I was selected.

    Think about the prospects all of you have had, and their lack knowledge(overall). Think about the time you invest in petty explanations, or walking people through needs analysis because they don’t even know what the hell they want. I’m assuming Andrew is a much better client than most, at least from my perspective. I’ve only had a handfull clients like him that at least understand and know what they need. Most require quite a bit more time.

    Again, I guess I’m seeing Andrew’s points clearly, from the designer/developer side. And I’m still surprised people treat him the way they do. If they had a clue, they’d build a relationship with him and become a go to guy/firm. From the looks of it, Andrew might be the only client they need for constant work, if they could see it. Not to mention it’s much easier to work with people once you know them, and how they work for future projects.

  • http://www.circle.co.nz nzgfxguru

    Geez, looks like a good old crying session for designers and clients.

    Andrew, if you can’t find a decent designer then keep looking. If you have time constraints then simply select the best of what you have so far.

    I think that answers the problems you are having.

  • aneitlich

    To those who think this is about me (Andrew):

    It’s not. I share my experience in this blog, but can find 50 other people with same experience.

    Of course I use the resources I have and keep looking for better.

    But there is a fundamental marketing question here:

    What is the key to addressing the gap between negative experiences by prospects and frustration of designers looking for prospects?

    Some of you are VERY on the mark in your replies (e.g. trust, credibility, relationships, visibility in way that shows your value), and some of you are misinterpreting the whole point of this exercise.

    Andrew

  • http://www.rswarren.com Robert Warren

    Andrew,

    My answer is: “honor” (in the traditional sense).

    There are vendors who simply don’t feel the need to treat their clients and prospects in an honorable fashion – they don’t listen, they misrepresent their services, they act in an unprofessional manner. There are also prospects/clients who treat their vendors dishonorably: they force them into bloodmatches, they act just as unprofessionally, they treat what is a professional service as just another fast food meal. Dishonor tends to breed dishonor – one can’t expect to work with honorable people if he or she is treating others dishonorably.

    In the old days, businesspeople had to be up front about their policies and had to treat their clients honorably because, if they didn’t, word would get around in the community and no one else would do business with them (or worse); in cultures such as ancient Japan, suicide was preferable to the loss of community esteem. As communities have gotten bigger and wider, the dynamic has weakened.. but the principle still holds up.

    If you’re looking for honorable vendors, don’t look where the dishonorable ones tend to hang out (eLance, etc.). If you want honorable clients, don’t tolerate dishonor. Instead, seek out the vendors and clients who clearly stand on principle, and then respect their honor as your own. Make it absolutely clear that this is something you take seriously, and you’ll attract people who take it seriously as well.

    It’s a warrior ethic, but happens to be one that works.

  • http://www.dvd-software.info hurricane_sh

    Totally agree, it’s very difficult to find a good designer, maybe programmers too, but I do coding myself, that’s not a problem for me.

    I’m really curious how others get a good design, even you find a good designer, it’s very probably that he can’t do well this time.

  • Olila

    Here is what we do:

    We ask 3-4 design companies to send us a suggestion based on a creative brief.

    We pay for the time the spend roughly US$700-1000.

    If they do a lousy job we don’t ask them again. If they do a good job – but don’t win. We thank them for their time and effort and ask if we may invite them again.

    That way we have created a pool of talented designers.

  • http://www.xaoscontrol.com xaoscontrol

    That was enlightening, Andrew. As a newbie the the world of independent designers looking for work, I’m amazed that more indie designers aren’t taking the stance that web shops take. Web shops interview the client…they try to understand the goals and needs and create a plan for accomplishing those goals. Isn’t that what a web designer/devloper is supposed to do?

    We, the independent developer/designers, are not likely to be able to compete with an agency the likes of Definition6 or 2Advanced, but we should be able to provide the same type of service even if it’s on a smaller scale. The mom n’ pop coffee shop down the street may not want to redesign thier website every year, but if you treat them as professionally as you would Einstien’s Bagles, they’re more likely to come back to you for additional services.

  • Tim G (pactumgroup.com)

    mx2k – I agree that clothes don’t make the man. But sloppiness and lack of care regarding presentation suggests that the designer doesn’t care about the client. Anyone who walks into a client’s office dressing like a slob is demonstrating that he does not respect the client. We’re not talking Armani suits here.

    Refusing to bend enough to dress for a professional environment, when the job in question is a profession, generally indicates an attitude of “I don’t care what you think,” and if I were a client I wouldn’t hire such a person.

  • anonymos coward

    OUCH! You guys don’t give him a break do you?!

  • http://www.bittime.com transio

    Andrew,

    I’ll keep it short. You get what you pay for. You’re obviously looking at google and elance for a deal. If you want “the best” you already know where to find them – you’ve seen their portfolios dozens of times already. But are you willing to pay for them?

    Regards,

    Steve

  • http://www.satviz.com davestarr

    There’s an amazing amount of good informative info on both sides of the fence on this issue. I think Andrew opened a very good line of discussion here, even if it did ruffle some feathers.

    I opened a small business a few months back, with the goal of selling a black box product to businesses. I wanted a web site that would serve mainly as abrochure/business card. I contacted anumbe rof designers, mainly by following the contact info on several business sites that I admired the layout of.

    If there _was_ any contact info, my response rate was abysmal .. most designers would get back after weeks of letting my email sit in their inbox and the number one question from those who did respond was’how many pages do you want’?

    Well hello, how do I know how many pages I want … I was expecting someone would ask some questions to find out about my business goals, timeline, budget available, etc.

    Sufice to say I put up my own, FrontPage template site and I update it regularly. It looks non-descript but I am on the first page of Google for two keyword phrases I wanted and the site has attracted three serious clients all well down in the marketing funnel, with a potential of high six figure sales.

    I would have much rather paid someone to do this at the startr … but now I’m glad I didn’t.

    If you want success in web design, make it easy for people to find you .. like Andrew I would never think of looking on Google, it’s too crowded, and for goodness sake when someone contacts you, resposnd … my tip for the day.

    best regards, Dave

  • mx2k

    Tim G – i know this, see my post, when i see my clients, i dress for the benefit of my clients, not myself.

    however what is considered to be a professional look is subjective to a person’s taste. People are biased and no one can change that. Opinions are like butts, everyone has one.

    If you have ever seen documentaries where two people wearing exactly the same thing that were applying for the same job or were stranded on the side of the road, the better looking ones got the job even though they were less qualified and had the most response when stranded.

    And again i’ll push the point of the mechanic, you don’t expect him to be in a suit when he meets you to work on your car do you? why? because he is dressed to his profession.

    Web design is an artzy/technology based field where the standard dress is based upon how cool you look.

    If any one is trying is change that look to what they think it should be, its the corp. business world who just recently got on the internet in order to bring back revenue lost from the web. E-commerce didn’t get big till the late 90′s and even now corporations seek to control it. Simply put, content is king and information is power. ( i remember when things like juno and netzero where free and you could still kick people from aol using various programs and the dancing babies where popular, and there were under contruction gifs on every web page. unix was king and 56k was unheard of)

    In alot of ways, the web is like the last wild west in america and designers have dressed accordinally to fit that feel to the profession.

    However, I still dress to suit my client, because they are human and have their flaws, just like us holy than thou designers. But you also have to keep in mind that what defines a slob is subjective.

    I think having to dress in any attire that stains easy, restricts movement, and is uncomfortable to a point is just not very logical especially for those designers who have to sit at a computer all day or run wires, move equipment, install new hardware, drink tons of coffee/caffeine and spend at least 10 or more hours a day on the computer making them whiter than #FFFFFF in order to bring you a web site for less money than it was bringing in 4 years ago.

    Its amazing how much cheaper people want a website for, yet how much more complicated its becoming just to design one.

    Maybe if the prospects paid more, the web designer could afford to dress better for them after paying for the computer and countless thousands of dollars for programs on top of that and the free mocks up that they expect on top of the unclocked man hours of writing the proposals, keep an open line of communication, bending over backwards in other ways to keep the relationship up and going, creating cross browser compliance, and helping your business get your message across with out killing it in the design, all without losing total sanity. =)

    again you get what you pay for.

  • Anonymous Coward

    I am really confused why you, a web design consumer – who apparently isn’t even a successful at being a consumer is in charge of writing this blog?

    #1: Right. So why did you waste your time there?

    #2: Right. So either a) make your search more specific, or b) scratch that method too.

    #3: If you have a very specific industry and want individuals with previous experience in that specific industry make sure you include that in your google search. Find same industry sites that you like and find out who did them. If you have a very clear picture of what you want, then you need to be a little resourceful to find it. If you know you want a Dodge Viper, you can’t get mad because every time you go to the Porsche dealer they never have any.

    #4: This is at times true. It is important that designers / developers make sure the client understands what they are saying. On the other hand, when you purchase a car / house / computer / whatever – it is always in the best interest of the consumer to at least put forth some effort to educate themselves about the product.

    #5: A holier than thou attitude never goes over well. On the other hand you can imagine how your mechanic would react if you stood over his shoulder and told him how tight you thought he should turn every bolt. If you are hiring a designer, acknowledge that the reason you are doing so is because he / she knows design better than you. So when you try to tell them how they should design the site, expect the same reaction as if you told a mechanic how to fix your transmission. Every one has an opinion, but it doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.

    #6: I would say it is your fault.

    Option 1: Educate yourself. If you don’t know squat about cars, go to a car lot, stare at the cars, and get upset because you can’t figure out which car is most reliable – that is your fault. You could have done research and read reviews and test reports. Same thing with the web. You know you want a website. Great, but what the heck do you want it for? What is it supposed to accomplish. What will help it succeed?

    Option #2: Get assistance. Not the do it yourself type? Fine. You may ask around to get a recommendation from friends of a reputable car dealership. Go there and ask the sales staff for help. Same thing with websites. Ask for a recommended provider, and then contact them for a consultation. They know the industry and can help you decide what you need.

    #7: It doesn’t sound like your interviews are unsuccessful – it just sounds like what everybody already knows: there are a lot of crap designers out there. You are weeding through the Dodge Neon’s to find the BMWs. You should be aware that the BMWs of the design world are going to be in demand – this translates to higher rates and they may not be able to take work from new clients immediately. For instance, I normally am able to start work immediately for existing clients. New clients who I have not yet formed a business relationship with may have to wait 1 – 3 months to be worked into the schedule. After that they will be given the same fast turnaround as other existing clients.

    I don’t think the problem is that it is hard to find good designers. I think it is hard to find good designers who are willing to work with demanding clients who only want to pay peanuts.

  • http://www.dannyfoo.com/minifolio/ etsuko

    That is why there are too many wannabe web designers in the world today. They think all they need is a graphical editing tool, some developer knowledge and wa-laa! webdesigner presto.

    The only time where I’d blame the prospect or rather be unhappy with them is when they think they’re always right because they’re paying for a job. To them, they’d only listen to their own suggestions and likes.

    Have that quite alot in Malaysia. It is sad.