If you want a reliable web design service you have two main options; a design agency or a freelancer. Both can get the job done but the difference can be several thousands of pounds and sometimes a certain lack of care.
Agencies by nature need a team of staff, typically a sales manager, project manager, designer and developer. Having spent most of my career working as a agency designer and also developer I’ve seen the pros and cons of this kind of service and my business approach has been to offer something unique that fills a gap somewhere in between where the two can fall short.
First contact – the best person to discuss your project with is the person who will be designing it rather than a sales rep. When dealing with an agency’s multiple points of contact it’s easy for information to get misunderstood and brand identity to get lost. Part of understanding your business is to arrange a visit and get a feel for how you operate. If this is undertaken by anyone other than the designer or developer then it’s easy for identity to be lost.
Typically an agency would employ two different people for these roles. In my experience the designer would have little knowledge of web code and practices that need to be adopted in order to build a fast, responsive and searchable website. All these fundamentals need to be incorporated into the design from the offset in order for correct implementation. In my experience the two processes must be done by one person in order to get this right.
Most agencies rely on third-party hosting providers to manage and store the website files. This can be fine until an issue arises. If you have one point of contact for all your hosting needs then I can address any updates and maintenance as a priority when it’s needed. Who better to maintain the website than the person who built it.
One question I’m frequently asked is regarding the ownership of the site. Many agencies tie you in with contracts and block access to the files that run it. At every point in the process, from domains, design rights and files you have complete ownership and control. If, for whatever reason, you decide to transfer or move your site then you can do so at your convenience.
This understandably can be an issue for new freelancers who haven’t had a chance to build a reputation. I’ve been in the fortunate position to win some big contracts with both The University of Sheffield and York in the early years of my career, who continue to use me on a regular basis. If organisations such as these feel they can trust my standard of work and operation then it’s perhaps easier for smaller businesses both local and national.