Who do I get to redesign my website?

It’s pretty much safe to say, in this day and age, that every business needs a website. And so the question arises: how do we get that done? 

I build websites

There are a few options. 

  • In-house
  • Freelancer
  • Offshore
  • Agency

If you’re not lucky enough to have a good web developer or developers on staff, then you’re looking for a solid working relationship with someone outside of your business in order to create and maintain your website.

Working with freelancers

The most affordable option is freelancers - many of whom are very good; providing a very cost effective and professional service. But the headache with freelancers can often be the longevity of the relationship (or lack thereof).  As a business, you’re going to need someone who will still be there doing the same job in twelve months, in two years’, in four years’ time. And quite frequently we take on work from folks who have previously been working with a freelancer but he or she has moved on to other things - in the worst cases, taking the knowledge about how everything is set up with them.

Offshore development

So if a freelancer isn’t the right choice, many companies turn to offshore development in India or Philippines or similar as a cost-efficent solution. But this brings its own challenges. Often there is little or no project management or quality control; and worse, an alarming lack of basic common sense.  It’s nice to think that when you say you need a login page, the person reading that requirement would logically infer that there also needs to be a script to manage the login, a database into which to put the users, and maybe even a ‘forgot password’ function. So would you be happy if you just got back a page that said ‘Log in’ at the top, and threw an error message at you when you tried to use it? Well, you asked for a login page, you got a login page. You probably didn’t specify the rest of that stuff, and you got what you asked for – but only what you asked for.

Little or no project management or quality control; and worse, an alarming lack of basic common sense

Offshore teams can be very successful – I know a of UK based agency who outsource all of their development overseas. But the money they save on the cheaper development is almost entirely offset by the management time to carefully oversee every single thing, and ensure that it’s done properly and intelligently.

And that’s okay, because they know development, and they know how to brief and spec things accurately enough that the job still gets done well. But clients working directly with offshore teams have frequently discovered that it’s not so easy. The overhead of managing, monitoring, communicating, testing and correcting – not to mention the stress of it, makes many swear ‘never again’. And then there’s the timezones, which can mean your development team is only in the office two of the same hours you are, causing a everything to run with a time-lag. You make a request on Monday, don't get an answer until Tuesday, refine and resend and get a response Wednesday, and before you know it, it's taken a week to achieve something basic.

That’s not to say that offshore teams are bad at what they do; just that there are inherent risks in the setup – the time difference, the cultural differences, communication barriers, and often a lack of project management, which can make life harder.

Choosing a UK-based agency

Even staying within these shores, choosing an agency to work with can still be a tricky process – many agencies look very similar from the outside, and everyone promises creativity, professionalism, customer service and high performing websites.  If you can get a recommendation from someone who’s worked with an agency they trust, that’s great – but if you had that recommendation it’s unlikely you’d be reading this.

Everyone promises creativity, professionalism, customer service and high performing websites

One good trick is to look at other websites, and identify ones that you think look good and are working well. This will not only inform your design process, but frequently it’s possible to discover who built a particular site – look for the credit link in the footer.

Or if you end up choosing three possible candidates from a Google search, then assessing who is going to be best to work with is the challenge. For more on that, including what questions to ask them and yourself, why not check out our post on how to choose a web design agency?

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