As a freelancer it is almost obligatory in the digital age to be present with your own online presence on the Internet. If you lack programming skills and homepage construction kits are too inflexible for you, you will be dependent on the help of a web designer. As in every branch there are black sheep here, too. Christoph from ModernPixel.de explains what you should pay attention to in this interview.
Question 1: You work as a freelance designer. What services do you offer your clients?
We offer our customers sophisticated websites and SEO measures. We cover pretty much all areas that you can imagine. These are classic company websites, online shops and also blogs. From time to time we also get the opportunity to take care of something fancy or an affiliate project.
Question 2: I also work as a designer. Sometimes I get an order because the customer was very dissatisfied with the previous designer. I often find the stories very hair-raising. Have you ever had such experiences?
Yes, of course. The terrible thing is, these requests are coming in quite frequently too. Many of our customers had to make the experience to get a bad “web designer” (I don’t like to call these people that). The end is usually the same. The customer is very dissatisfied, has a very bad website (if he got one at all) and has now of course become very sceptical, which does not necessarily make our work any easier.
Question 3: What was the most memorable story for you?
We are experiencing some really funny and scary stories here. But the most intense thing I have noticed so far was in the wider circle of acquaintances. There was a young founder, who wanted to have a classic website. He had a really good and sufficient budget at hand and wanted to get the best for his money. So he went to a webdesigner who was a friend of a friend (you know him). He made him an offer for a high five-digit amount and he made a deal.
It should be noted with the story that this was really a “normal” company website. There was nothing unusual or any features that could have driven the price so high.
When I had looked at the final result, I fell out of the clouds. The customer got nothing here but an outdated WordPress installation with a finished theme. The “designer” didn’t even bother to adapt anything. Everything was taken 100% from the demo (except the content of course). Not even the colors or the typo were adapted to the desired CI.
In principle, there’s nothing against selling a theme to a customer and not designing everything from scratch, but you should tell the customer this beforehand and not be too cheeky and take almost 10.000€ off his hands. The really nice thing about the whole number is that the “designer” has printed the whole website as his own work. Not even the word “theme” or “template” was mentioned. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how the whole thing turned out, but for me that borders on fraud and rip-off.
Question 4: In your opinion, what are the biggest dangers when clients come across such web designers?
The biggest danger in my eyes, is this typical “a buddy of my buddy” behavior. I just can’t understand how you can throw such sums out the window just because someone knows a “web designer”. These people are then usually blindly trusted. They don’t do research, ask questions or maybe get an external consultant on board.
Apart from the mostly burned money, the worst thing is that the finished website usually does not correspond to the standard at all and gives the impression to the future visitors that the website was created out of a homepage construction kit (most of the time this is the case).
But there are other dangers in my eyes. These include, for example, extremely cheap offers. It is simply not economically feasible to create a modern and target-oriented website for around 200€. Many people take advantage of such offers, because they assume that a “webdesigner” just clicks around a bit anyway and this can’t be that expensive. This assessment is fundamentally wrong and makes sure that one gets to people who have no idea about the actual process of creating a website. You might be able to set up a WordPress installation, install a theme and customize it – but then it will stop.
I also notice that many clients choose their web designer based on references (most of our clients also came to us this way). However, I see this as a big mistake. Usually the customer has hardly the necessary background knowledge to evaluate a website. Mostly only the personal taste decides then. But this is quite relative and for the later visitor also completely unimportant. The latter is not interested in whether the owner likes his own website. It is important that the visitor gets along, is well guided and if possible fulfils the set goal of the website owner. Of course, this does not mean that all web designers that suit my taste are basically bad, that’s nonsense. I rather think that one should not rely 100% on his own taste and should also include other criteria in the selection.
Question 5: If you now put yourself in the role of the client How would you release yourself from such a conflictual collaboration?
This is of course a bit difficult and depends on the contract design. If it allows it, I would simply terminate the contract, book the money already invested as a lesson and look for a new designer. But the best possibility is of course not to get into such a situation and to choose a web designer carefully.
Question 6: How do you recognize a serious web designer?
Since the knowledge gap between customer and web designer is usually very large, it is naturally difficult for the customer to recognize a serious web designer. The best means here are probably the customers’ opinions – if available.
If you find enough meaningful opinions about his work on the net or on the designer’s website, you can get a good picture of the web designer here. You could also check the references and call or write to a client. Just ask how the work was and if they would recommend the designer. But also here you have to take care that they are “real” customer voices and not fakes.
Another good indication is the services offered. If a web designer offers 100 other things besides the implementation of websites, then you can assume that the focus here is not on the creation of websites. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it should definitely be included in his considerations.
The price also plays an important role. If you get everything thrown behind, you should keep your hands off this web designer. Good work takes time and costs money.
Otherwise, the only thing that helps is a knowledge of human nature. You should talk to the web designer and see what the impression is. If you don’t feel you are in good hands, then you should leave it and look for someone else.
Question 7: What can the client do to make the collaboration with the designer positive?
He should give the designer as much information as possible at the beginning of the project. This way the web designer can get an idea of the customer’s wishes and can react and plan accordingly. A customer cannot and does not have to do much more. The rest is in my opinion up to the webdesigner. If he does his job well, there will be no problems.
Question 8: If you would hire a web designer yourself, what would be your five most important selection criteria.
- Existing customer voices
- no cheap offers
Christoph, thank you very much for the interview.
Do you have experience in working with a web designer, which you would like to share? Write your (also positive) experiences in the comments and help other freelancers.