I keep meeting web designers/developers who don't know web design

I’ve been hired as an independent contractor by a couple of “web designers/developers” who don’t actually understand web design or programming.

I freelance right now and am very new to it. I’m still learning the ropes and I’m wondering if this is common. I may come off as an ******* but I’ll take the risk but both these “web designers” offer services in only installing Wordpress themes. They don’t know anything or much about CSS or HTML let alone PHP, etc. I think they charge a very standard amount to just install a Wordpress theme and setup a web site. I’m very serious when I ask this, but is this common? Neither of them have worked with an outside contractor before. I’m their first. They’re two separate people but are pretty similar. They quickly reached a point where they realized they didn’t know how to make a website or customize it. I’m just shocked at how they got clients in the first place (multiple clients).

Is there an industry of “web designers” who make a living installing web templates they don’t design and can hardly customize? Because I wouldn’t mind doing that myself. “Hi, I can install a Wordpress theme for you. $1000 please.”

Hello rpeg,

I’ve moved your thread over to the Web Design forum as this isn’t Industry News. :slight_smile:

Yes I see people all the time that found a web design client first then started learning web design. :rolleyes:

You gotta live with that.

I know some friends who “know web design” but when I try to talk to them about HTML/CSS they don’t even know the most basic stuff!

It’s kinda sad that people with little knowledge get more clients then those with actual knowledge.

I guess I find that so weird. I can’t imagine putting myself in a situation like that – with a client but I don’t know CSS. I think another reason I ask is because I’m concerned about the rates. Either these people charge too much OR I’m charging too little.

rpeg, it’s because there’s no barrier to entry in the web design industry. There’s no good formal qualification which anyone takes seriously (education moves to slowly for the industry) and following standards is unfortunately optional (as there’s no independent recognised body which acts as a watchdog for professionals). Essentially the industry works on five tiers (as I see it) which pretty much determines what region of the web industry they fall into.

  • Learn As They Earn - People who work with no qualifications or experience or knowledge, usually either install packages or use WYSIWYG editors. Their basically the worst part of the industry, selling faulty goods with no prospects of giving support (as they have no idea what their talking about), sometimes falsely attribute their skills, prey on the ignorant (to the point of fraudulent practice). - I know people who do this kind of stuff, and it infuriates me to no end.
  • Bargain Basement Workers - Usually in eastern nations like India and China (stereotypes aside), they have a varying range of skills however there’s no guarantees on the quality of the work. Emphasis is on fast turnarounds and poor follow-through, prices are rock bottom and usually find work through freelance sites like Guru where bidding for work is the name of the game. Sometimes formed of students, you often find the work pretty “ragged” in how well it’s done.
  • Average Industry Worker - This is the average person, usually employed by a business (non-web design). Generally they have a good level of knowledge, they usually know how to code and do their job well, however their skills are fairly inflexible (due to being in a “single purpose” position). You don’t tend to meet these kind of people in the community as they just do their job in the background. They often have qualifications in computer science or something IT related.
  • The Masters of None - This accounts for most web designers who visit this site. Their usually well rounded pro’s who spread their skills widely across a range of subjects rather than specializing. It’s a benefit as you’re more likely to get paid work for someone else or as a freelancer but the level of knowledge can vary depending on experience and qualification levels can vary. Most of the worlds high quality sites come from this camp due to the flexibility of skills.
  • Industry Experts - These are the shining examples of the industry… essentially the people who specialize and become leading figureheads (like Nielsen, Keith, Zeldman, Shea, Snook, etc), the people who know (and speak about) their subject probably better than anyone else alive. Pretty rare to find anyone like this (whether their famous or not) but still, their usually well paid, well educated, highly experienced and skilled people and an entire industry niche of their own.

It’s the old story of caveat emptor—buyer beware. So many people fall prey to amateur web designers simply through not knowing any better. People generally have no idea what constitutes a good website, and there’s often no one for them to turn to for reliable advice, so they end up with a shoddy product. Most people I know these days seem to know about getting a house or a car checked out before buying it, but they are clueless about what to look for in a website. They might have a vague notion that there’s something called SEO, but that’s about all. So they are sitting ducks.

Well, if it [website] looks painted pretty-and-flashy they’ll generally buy it; even if its engine is leaking oil and the painted body is holding together a pile of rust underneath. It is a sad fact but usually that is what happens.

What about these people at the bottom of the tier? Do you think they charge the same rates of even the average workers? Working with the two “web designers” I am currently working with I’m feeling simultaneously bad for their clients and suspicious of the amount they may charge.

Has anyone observed these very inexperienced designers actually charging standard rates in their region? I would be more sympathetic if they offered really affordable services.

I need to stop being “surprised” by these things but I guess I’m just too new. As a part of pushing forward my freelance career I’ve purchased books on Jquery, the WP bible, etc, and have spent hours with all these things. I just assumed any other web developer did the same with their chosen area of knowledge.

Anyway, regarding your point on " People generally have no idea what constitutes a good website" this is slowly becoming clearer to me. I say this a bit light-heartedly but my father showed me a website and asked if in my professional opinion, I would call this a “good” website: http://www.doctorspiller.com

I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I suspect there may be many potential customers out there with similar perspectives.

I haven’t seen very many inexperienced web designers get very much for their work. I see a lot of them throwing up templates for $300 or so but sometimes I see them making some money.

The other week I looked at a site someone paid $1500. for and it was just a sliced image absolutely nothing but the title for the search engine to read.
The people thought it was great because it looked pretty. :rolleyes:

The content of Doctor Spiller might be informative but it was a hideous site with regards to markup and accessibility, semantics and the extremely slow loading, etc.

There are many ways to specialise in webdesign, some people can only code HTML/CSS, some can only customised CMS’s, there’s plenty of work in both for all of us.

Nice to see that your opinion is evolving. :slight_smile:

Well, I’m specifically wondering about the persons who only install templates and don’t code at all. I honestly had no idea that was a part of the industry. I myself specialize in XHTML/CSS and design and a moderate degree of front-end development, at the moment. Nothing really crazy. I just assumed at minimum “web designers” touched code. However, I’m mostly concerned with what they charge. A previous poster suggests that prices have ranged from his observation. I’m trying to gauge if I’m charing too little or too much.

His opinion hasn’t changed. Those two statements only appear to say different things when you take them out of context.

Web design ISN’T an easy profession to start working in (as a professional doing the job properly).

There’s no barrier to entry in the web design industry and so lots of people who are NOT web designers pretend to do web design work and create lots of garbage.

And it’s ugly as hell. :slight_smile:

One other problem with regard to finding a good web professional is that professionals in other areas are branching into web design. A high-quality graphic designer is likely to start playing with Dreamweaver and putting up very nice looking sites without knowing anything at all about code, and not realizing that the sites are poorly coded and inaccessible. It’s understandable that this happens. The designer may not realistically have time to learn the art of web design, and no one generally tells them (not even the Dw manual) that WYSIWYG editors produce lousy websites.

Thanks for your input Stephen, appreciated as always. I’ll let Alex speak for himself though.

I feel for you mate.

Reality speaking, there are lots of them who claimed that they are “professional designers and programmer” without prove they are. I suggest to hire a company instead of a freelancer.

Staff leasing is better than freelance work because leased staff are permanent workers of our company and are easy to reach in case you need them. Freelancers do not have employers so they do as they please and sometimes cannot be contacted for various reasons.

I wasn’t speaking for Alex. I was speaking for myself agreeing with BOTH of his comments that you mistakenly thought contradicted one another.

Off Topic:

Stephen, again, thank you for your input. It’s noted that you think I’m mistaken, now let’s let Alex respond if he wants to ok?