By Andrew Neitlich

Best web designers and developers I’ve worked with

By Andrew Neitlich

In this blog, I’ve spent plenty of time complaining about the lousy state of service in the web design and development (and IT in general) fields.

But over the past 2 years, some great service providers have appeared.

Here is what sets them apart:

1. One of them has an excellent niche: He is an expert in open source research, and able to pull together a team of skilled developers from around the world, at a fair price. Meanwhile, he is able to bridge between technology and business to provide sound guidance, manage scope, and help me set technical direction without losing focus.

2. Another has a degree from MIT, and knows architecture cold. Normally he would be too pricey, but he, like the example in #1, has assembled a team of coders overseas to build out projects (which he oversees).

3. I’ve found an affordable designer who does award-winning design work, without that annoying, tempermental artsy attitude. He’s able to design products, advertisements, and web sites, getting the job done fast, with amazing quality, professionalism, and at a great price. He doesn’t come to Sitepoint, so I don’t mind saying here that I’d pay double for his services, and probably should make him an equity partner in this particular venture as he is so valuable (but first we need more sales!).

4. Another designer is very skilled at creating web sites that get response. He understands how to create sites that convert to product sales, something many designers don’t get. In other words, his niche is conversion.

5. Yet another responds to my requests for website upgrades and support immediately, is responsive, and understands my ecommerce shopping cart. He is extremely helpful and responds to his emails within the hour. He also puts up good quality sites, quickly and affordably.

Each of the above has a focused niche, so it is easy for me to know whom to call, for what. Maybe that’s the lesson of this blog post: Find a niche, and be better than anybody else at it. Too many web designers, developers, and IT professionals are generalists who don’t focus, can’t explain why they are unique and better, and deliver neither quality results nor professional service.

This presents a fantastic opportunity for those who want to excel.

  • As I read about these star developers I only wish I could improve my business. I have a lot that gets in the way, mainly school, so response time is usually delayed. I recently had email problems, which was very tragic I can say.

    This is one reason why I’ve started to work less with the clients, and stick with sub contracting. I can program something that works fine, and my niche is probably content management systems. Sub-contracting is nice as I don’t have to be a star performer, lol, but just get the job done on time.

  • Andrew,

    Without even knowing it, I’ve taken your advice to heart and found my market niche – designing interfaces for web applications. I work with programmers and business analysts to design the front-end of an application, providing artwork, XHTML and CSS in the process. It’s technical and challenging work, but it’s also what I love to do.

    So far my new venture been going great project-wise and I’m finally doing what I’m most excited about, instead of building commercial websites like I’ve done for so many years past.

    Finding and capitalizing on that niche was the hardest part. But as you’ve pointed out, once you get there, great opportunities await.


  • aneitlich




  • #rateAcoder.com

    In my honest opinion, it is equally important for the employer to understand his/her exact requirements while working with a freelancer. Assigning a project to an expert freelancer does not always get the right results.

    Warm Regards,

  • Alex Kintis

    Regarding e-mail, it is possible to get a BlackBerry (for when you’re on the go and do not have access to a computer) so you can reply to your clients as if you were near the computer. I am considering making this option a reality if and when my business starts, it takes off, and there is a need for it.

  • I too have found a niche after reading Andrew’s blog and using attractnewclients.com (this was such great help). My main three target markets are credit unions, health care, and e-commerce. Credit unions are so great to work with b/c they are not in competition with each other like banks. Their execs talk with each other and I have landed three credit union accounts in the past year based on word of mouth alone. The same thing with the health care field. By focusing on these markets, I am now being viewed as an expert and beat out two large credit union consulting firms in a bid this past month.

    Take some time to think about a target market that you can really focus on and become an expert. Make it you own gold mine and capitilize on it!

  • aneitlich


    Thanks for kind words on attractnewclients.com. This is relaunching with completely new offer in 1-2 weeks, and so will be much much better.

    Stay tuned for blog about this process, as our results and lessons learned so far have been very instructive.

  • With respect to Kavs comments on requirements: No doubt at all there is some truth to this, but in today’s world a designer or developer who hopes to really succeed needs to avoid hiding behind requirements.
    An example from many years that I spent in the telecommunications service provider industry .. or job was to receive requests from customers for new services and implement them. Technology changes at such a rapid rate that we would receive ‘silly’ requirements, such as buy my office a modem and install an extra phone line to connect to database X … while that office was already alive and well on the corporate fiber network. About 85 or 90% of my colleagues would just take the requirement and do whatever the customer said … irrespective of the fact the customer was (through no fault of their own), clueless.

    Web design and integration requests frequently come from those who are clueless as well as to what today’s best solutions are … it’s incumbent upon the designer or developer to see ‘through’ the specifics that may be stated and, in consultative efforts with the client, develop the best solution … which is often _not_ what was first stated in the requirement.

    Best regards

  • free-thinker

    I completely agree! respect!

  • Hans Mast

    “2. Another has a degree from MIT, and knows architecture cold. Normally he would be too pricey, but he, like the example in #1, has assembled a team of coders overseas to build out projects (which he oversees).”

    I guess he overseas’s it and then he oversees it.

  • Andrew,

    In your experence, what have you found to be the best way of finding talented designers and developers (when I say talented, I mean more than great artwork or coding skills).


  • plan9

    I’m a developer and I manage my own projects and I’m having a big trouble to find professionals. It’s easy to find designers and coders, but really professionals that follow deadlines and deliver what is agreeded it is being very tough, having I no other option that making everything wich is very limiting in terms of number of projects manage at a time. Where can I find good professionals?

  • The trick is finding someone who is awesome at managing developers and pulling it all together for a seamless product for the client. If you can do that, you are gold!

  • mpdesigns

    Currently my target niche is computer specialists and independant retailers simply cause I’ve serviced computers and equipment extensively in the past and know more than the average user. But considering computer retailers and specialists know a wealth more than average individuals how do you cater to a market that feels they can just build a website themselves, what angles can I look for here?

  • Having a niche is good. But sometimes I feel that if the niche is too small, I might be better off wearing multiple hats.

    For example, my niche is that I do subcontracting work for other designers. They give me their design comp and I give them back a coded site or template. I mean this niche is so narrow that I *almost* found one designer that is willing to subcontract to me. So instead, I have now expanded to wear an “instructor’s” hat by providing online training in web design.


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