By Andrew Neitlich

Guess which web designer makes more money…

By Andrew Neitlich

I’m working directly with two web designers right now. Guess which one makes more money:

Designer One: This guy is a true artist. He likes to take on difficult web design challenges. His work is gorgeous (so good in fact that it is hard to convert his Photoshop products into HTML). He can’t manage deadlines very well, and is a bit tempermental. Everything he does is custom, and can take months to complete. He charges lots of money per job, and is worth it for his great custom work.

Designer Two: This guy knows how to create web sites that have that direct marketing look and feel. He can mix and match existing elements to create a decent looking web site. His work is not very original. In fact, he likes to create a template and crank out work that is 80% the same and 20% customized. On the downside, he is a bit sloppy and tends to overlook details like typos. He also doesn’t like requests from clients to really redo the look and feel of a site he has created. But his sites look professional and get response. And he is much faster than Designer One, even though he charges less money per hour and per site.

Question 1: Who would you guess makes more money each year?
Question 2: Regardless of who makes more money, which would you rather be?

  • mrtopher

    I would think that designer 2 makes more money. Personally, I would rather be Designer 2 but with a little more attention to detail.

  • lawilson2

    Ok, I’ll go first.

    Question 1: Designer Two. He’s a bit like me except for the typos. :)

    Question 2: I’d rather be two. The first sounds like a diva. :)

  • nefarioustim

    Question 1: Designer 2.

    Question 2: Neither. I’d rather be a mix of both.

  • Pie

    Designer 2 Makes the more money.
    I am Designer 1 in my own opinion.

    Its awfull. I see so many people with their templates that look like they are resellers make more money than my business that deals in amazing, never seen before designs.

  • Question 1. Designer 2

    Question2. Designer 2, but for the sloppiness.

  • Quote: “(so good in fact that it is hard to convert his Photoshop products into HTML)”

    If that is true he cannot be really good web designer:))

    I’ll go for designer 2 of course.

  • Q1: Designer 2
    Q2: Designer 1

  • Designer Two makes more money as “his sites look professional and get response”. You can have the coolest looking site in the world but if it does not deliver anything but rewards, then it is useless. On top of that, he is much faster than Designer One.

    I would say I am and would like to be more like Designer Two focusing on creative web marketing (minus the typos of course). Even so, typos are easier to fix than an attitude and missing deadlines.

  • The people that will make the most money are:

    1) The people who know how to market and sell themselves, regardless of how much (or little) talent they have.
    2) The people who know how to help their customers get results. If you can prove that you can help someone else make more money, then you can easily justify your value.

  • Designer 2
    I am designer 2

  • JMorris

    Question 1: Designer 2 (obviously, look around)
    Question 2: A well rounded combination of both

  • lajkonik86

    don’t agree with most of you.
    If designer 1 is really something special.
    Imagine somebody needing something really really good, not really regarding costs to much. He simply has a far higher profit margin.
    But that’s only upper upper designers. Basicly it’s better to be 2 then to be very very good and dedicated but not the best :P

  • It’s pretty dreary to see such constant extremes. The fact of the matter is that it’s obvious where the shortfall of both designers are: lack of a team. The inherent strength of a team lies in finding the ideal middle ground between the the two extreme examples listed above. Thus, in conclusion, I won’t comment on who makes more coin or who I’d like to be – in a realistic sense the second probably makes more seeing that he (or she) turns over more (tangible) product within any timeframe but yet, the team dynamic (which fosters great creativity, morale, etc.) is missing in both cases.

  • Satya

    Question 1: Designer Two
    Question 2: Like to be both, currently too much of a Designer One and trying to be Designer Two

  • Anonymous

    You description sounds like #1 and #2 are both bad business people, so who cares who makes more money? I don’t want to be either of those guys.

  • whackaxe

    Q1: I’m betting on 2 because he knows how to market his skills and has good relations (or something along those lines)

    Q2: Designer 1

  • Anonymously

    Unless the both designers are disclosing how much they are making to you, which is unlikely, you stated that “Designer One” makes more money per hour and per site. Therefore, since you only likely truely know what you are paying, the first designer “makes more money….”

    Ta Da ;)

    PS- Thanks for answering the question on the “Top Three” matrices you are tracking; I would have thought that it was cost/revenue per customer. Best of Luck!

  • lawilson2

    I’m so sorry to post this here, but how do I unsubscribe to these comments? The link in the email isn’t working, and my box is being filled up all day. Thanks.

  • I disagree, I would believe that Designer 1 makes more money – as his works cost more and he probably manages a few jobs at one time.

    It is a bit hard to chose, as really I could see situations where it could be both.

    I’d rather be Designer 1, without the typos. That’s pretty much what I am now. :D

  • MatthewHSE

    Designer 2 makes more money.

    I am Designer 2. My brother is Designer 1. Neither of us make much money. Neither of us would get anywhere on the web without the other. I like being Designer 2 and he likes being Designer 1.

    When do we get the answer to this? ;)

  • Which of the designers clients would make more money?

    The client whose website design has been well thought out according to the requirements of the client. Is focused on the users of the site. Has gone through user testing and has a professional look with high attention to detail. Takes a month for it to launch.

    Or the client whose website has been put together based on a generic template, is full of typos, doesn’t look professional. But is ready to roll in two days.

  • Amirsan

    Matthew, that seems like a great mix for a design firm… if you work well together.

  • I would hope that designer one would make more money but its hard to say. Its also hard to say if designer one does less or more work in terms of hours per day.

  • searsy

    Designer 2 probably makes more. Even though he does template it, some people might not notice.

    However since he makes typos, thats a real big problem. Business people wont stand for that.

    Id prefer designer 1

  • The best designers I know are more like Designer #2. Forget which one I’d rather be (I can be both depending on what the situation calls for) — I’d rather hire #2. Things change fast, if I need a design I need it today, not tommorow.

  • Q1 – #2

    Q2 – Designer #3. Both are prevelant in this business, so being different will allow me to stand out and attract clients who are sick of dealing with these types.

  • I would guess that designer #1 makes more money. Most clients don’t care how hard a design is to slice and code; they care how it looks. I believe that most clients want to stand out in the crowd, so I believe they would choose designer #1 before designer #2.

    As for which I’d rather be, I’m not a designer (and have just about zero artistic ability). That said, I lean more toward designer #1, although I’d really prefer taking the best qualities from both.

  • Etnu

    I don’t really care which one makes more money, because they’re both bad at their job.

  • Quote of Quote:

    “Quote: “(so good in fact that it is hard to convert his Photoshop products into HTML)”

    If that is true he cannot be really good web designer:)) ”

    Apsolutno se slažem. :)

    Andrew, just for the fun of it — send one of his Photoshop products my way and I’ll convert it to spotless, cross-browser, CSS-only, XHTML compliant layout.

  • Ryan Wray

    I would say designer two makes more money, as he develops websites that ‘look professional and get response’. The websites that most of us find useful probably don’t fit under the terms ‘originality’ and ‘beautiful’ in regards to aesthetics. The truth of the matter is, business most often don’t need beautiful sites, just sites that work. Artists are not needed, web marketing experts are. Originality doesn’t matter when it comes to the sites look: the consistency with other sites may even help a user be familar with the site straight away.

    Designer one, while his work looks great, does not neccessary generate profitable response from his designs. He can’t manage deadlines, and hence is probably seen as unrealiable. He is probably great for certain media sites, where visual niceties are more important than actual content. But he doesn’t suit many business sites. He may be the type who is stubborn when it comes to his work, unwilling to sacrifice certain aesthetics in the name of functionality and effieceny. His designs probably cost more money (his charges, bandwidth) and yet, may not generate enough response to warrant the cost.

    I would prefer to be designer two, as it seems like he is more business-friendly. He gets things done, and realises that art is only a small portion of what the site is to be. He fits in with the business process of the client, and delivers. Being a bit more professional would help him (ie. actively fixing typos). But I say he does well enough.

  • pdxi

    Etnu said:

    I don’t really care which one makes more money, because they’re both bad at their job.

    I agree.

  • I’m so sorry to post this here, but how do I unsubscribe to these comments? The link in the email isn’t working, and my box is being filled up all day. Thanks.

    Good point. We’ve added a notification management control that should be linked from the email.

  • bscheepers post above reminds me of a politician. are you?

    Best case scenario is the designer who can do both according to what the client wants. It does seem that the truly creative types have a difficult time ‘coming down off their mountain’, but if they could do it. Designer 2 just needs to be aware of the client that wants something truly creative and go that direction.

    When in doubt, farm it out:)

  • Clark

    Certainly neither.

  • Vlad

    I think that the question comes down to this: “Who charges more per hour?”. And if you say that the first designer’s work is better i would guess that he’s the one charging more (because he would a better reputation as a web designer), so he would have to be the one making more money.

    Obviously, i would consider myself to be designer one.

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