How can I find a competent Web designer?

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  • How can I find a competent Web designer?
  • After using two different freelance designers I’m sick of them, the problems I’ve experienced are:
    contrary to promises they didn’t have the necessary skills
    no sense of design,
    seemed to only want to do whatever was easy for them regardless of whether it met my spec.
    Super slow delivery totally breaking all deadlines.
    Super slow communication
    Endless broken promises.

    Before you IT guys hammer me I know most people have no understanding of your dark art, but seriously I’m pretty IT literate, by that I mean I’ve specced many systems in my professional life, I ‘ve built applications (not web apps) I’ve done simple sites but I just dont have the skills or the time to learn the skills that I need for a more sophisticated retail site. I should also add I’m realistic, flexible and practical – the only thing I’m not is loaded which it seems you would need to be judging for some of the crazy prices I’ve been quoted by agencies.

    So can anyone tell me where am I going wrong? or point me in the direction of a capable English speaking designer (searchable db, shopping carts, mail lists etc) that’s not too expensive?

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    find a site that does everything you want, find out who designed it…

    MrNutt
    Member

    what do you want to do John? perhaps your eyes are too big for your belly? what do you consider to be a fair hourly wage for someone creative to develop a bespoke front end for what sounds like a business?

    Do you have a realized concept?

    Do you have a corporate image?

    Do you already have layout or at least palette in mind?

    Do you already any process mapping worked out?

    Do you have the content?

    any of those things prepared in advance could possibly make the task a little more wallet friendly?

    Unfortunately theres no question of just cloning a site, I’ve found sites that are similar to what i want in functionality but only similar and different in design of course.

    The sites I have done so far have been fully specced and mocked up with layouts, colour schemes, photographs,logos & content supplied, and functionality fully detailed. Since im pretty exhaustive in the detail /prescriptive yet flexible the design skill is more the ability to work to a reasonable aesthetic standard rather than “create” something from scratch. It would be the same for the new site I have in mind too.
    I’ll pay a fair amount for decent work but just because its a business doesnt mean Im going to overpay if you know what i mean.

    GNARGNAR
    Member

    I smell a nightmare client.

    Karl33to
    Member

    Being a web developer myself, I can see that it’s relatively easy to find a freelancer that excels at one or more of the aspects of web development needed by a project, but very very hard to find one that’s good at everything you need.

    This is why a web-dev company has it’s advantages, different people specialising in each aspect of the site, and a manager ensuring it all gets delivered on time.

    Who’s to say that if you search long and hard enough you wont find the freelancer that meets your needs, but it’ll end up costing you in the long run, maybe not in cash but certainly in wasted time.

    At the end of the day, you get what you pay for!

    Lol Gnar, I’m know I probably sound that way but Im definately not, I don’t deliver a half formed wooly spec then change it during the development process, I change it if requested by the developer to solve any problems met. I do know that not fully thinking things through from the start and changing things makes a nightmare client – that’s not me.
    Karl I hear what you are saying about the pool of different expertise, I can definately see the advantages of having asp specialists, ajax, seo etc, and its partially true you get what you pay for – to an extent. but when I first specced a pretty simple web application site I got quoted £5 to £15k by Uk agencies, and I know thats way too much for something I can’t believe would take anymore than 5 days work.
    I admit I used foreign freelancers and it cost very little but it was hard work, I would have paid more for an easier delivery. However compared to £5k still worth it, as £5k was just not possible.
    In some ways I’m not sure I would have definately got anything much better in the Uk anyway? By that I don’t mean any disrespect to UK designers, I’m sure there are some highly skilled and talented designers here and I’d like to find some but I’ve heard that many UK agencies often contract it out to foreign contractors anyway and use templates (like foriegn freelancers I know) – I’d like to find a happy medium really, a good freelance designer or agency with reasonable charges, who can deliver on spec and on time.

    warton
    Member

    Couple of things,
    there are people out there that will do the job well, but as Karl says, a web dev company is the way forward. Yes they are expensive, but if you find a good one you will geta quality piece of kit, and a shopping kart etc fully functioning will take a lot more than 5 days to develop, especially if you want CMS.

    Basically you get what you pay for. will less than 5K get you a very good e-commerce site? I doubt it…

    Premier Icon cp
    Subscriber

    i have no idea of web dev costs of whatever (have dev’d sites myself, but as an employee, and i think they got a bargain…), but anyway, for what sounds like a retail front, £5k doesn’t sound bad. certainly cheaper than maintaining an actual shop 🙂

    joemarshall
    Member

    This sounds exactly like my experience of outsourcing coding work abroad. You pay less, but you end up spending more in the end fixing up the problems caused by poor communication and an unknown level of skill at their end.

    If you have the design and content already, and you really just want the back end coding, then I’d find someone who offers hosting with a CMS and a checkout solution – something like joomla/virtuemart.

    Or even if you just find someone who does php/mysql hosting, setting up joomla is not that hard.

    Key thing is to avoid anyone who doesn’t want to use some off the shelf solution for the shopping cart etc., they’ll only hack you up some custom thing that will be a nightmare to maintain.

    Joe

    Premier Icon cp
    Subscriber

    …and, at £50/hr, two and a bit weeks gets you to £5000. It could easily take that long. longer, I’d imagine, if the company/person didn’t have any functions/coding already in their own library.

    Premier Icon ChrisHeath
    Subscriber

    Have a word with mastiles_fanylion. Be prepared to pay a call out fee, mind.

    😉

    Sir John Lord – we are a Harrogate-based web design agency. Should you ever feel the need to contact us, please do. We understand the need for something functionally excellent as well as aesthetically beautiful. This is us….

    LOL! £70 minimum call-out – I need to cover the recent heating engineer’s call-out fee you see…

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    May I suggest Creative Stream I have used them a few times, and know many others that use them.

    I just read the bit about £5k sites and 5 days work… I don’t thnk we would be a suitable mix after all – you get what you pay for and 5 days is hardly any time to scope, design, architect, function test, build, and crash test a simple site, never mind a potentially complex application. You do, usually, get just what you pay for.

    Premier Icon mahowlett
    Subscriber

    I work for a web development company, http://www.netxtra.net and it sounds like the sort of thing we could take on. I’m with mastiles_fanylion in that I’m pretty sure that 5k wouldn’t cover what it sounds like you want though…..

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    Of the three linked agencies I preferred the uncluttered look of Mixd. Font sizes on the other two were small and the pages were a bit busy, plus they asked for cookies (pushy and intrusive IMHO). A definite case of less is more.

    I thank you! 🙂

    kiwi_stu
    Member

    try James Ecendance – james@i2in.com website http://www.i2in.com I have only heard good stuff about them and my experience has been great and work is very very good priced.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Looks are nice – but both the other sites spank MF’s site on SEO stuff…..

    Its a bit like having the shiniest shop, but in the wrong part of town…

    Or you can have a less bling shop, but on the best street in town…

    RudeBoy
    Member

    Don’t employ the bloke I work with. He’s **** useless.

    contrary to promises they didn’t have the necessary skills
    no sense of design,
    seemed to only want to do whatever was easy for them regardless of whether it met my spec.
    Super slow delivery totally breaking all deadlines.
    Super slow communication
    Endless broken promises.

    Yep. He pretty much ticks all of those boxes.

    Looks are nice – but both the other sites spank MF’s site on SEO stuff…..

    I am interested as to why you say that – we are getting good results SEO-wise and consider ourselves as competent at SEO work. Not in any way slagging your opinion off – I am genuinly interested in what you think we are doing wrong!

    (It is a new site (about 5 weeks since we replaced our old and frankly rubbish site) so it isn’t fully indexed yet BTW)

    Dorset_Knob
    Member

    I like the Mixd site too.

    All the words on those other sites – were they written by robots, then?

    badbod99
    Member

    Check out my m8 Harshad over in Ahmedabad (India). I employed him for 3 years, now running his own business. He is the best designer I’ve ever come across! And he’s $20 per hour.

    His portfolio is on his site:

    http://www.thenetgurus.com

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I am interested as to why you say that – we are getting good results SEO-wise and consider ourselves as competent at SEO work. Not in any way slagging your opinion off – I am genuinly interested in what you think we are doing wrong!

    More an initial ‘glance’ at code and using WebCEO. I don’t think there is anything wrong per-se, more just time and improvements.

    I find that it takes 3months after indexing to get good results – having said that I put a couple of pages up a fortnight ago, and went from page 4 in google to top 4 results Page 1 in a couple of days….

    I think although people like images, less text and ‘clean’, Google (et al’s) algorithm likes text it can ‘read’. Ergo (to a certain extent) sites with a good quantity of text on get ‘read’ and rated more highly. Content is king.

    Having said that, we get a good few hits via Google Images…so meta tagging and image naming can help a lot.

    I also restrict our pages to three keywords per page – multiple keywords spreads you ‘thinly’ – I know weekly what our top searches / keywords are, and aim each page / section of the site at a more restricted selection of keywords, that mirrors content. I also know overall search quantities and estimates via Googles adwords tool – great to target high search / poorly SEO’d terms.

    Thanks for your nput – as I said it is a new site and we are continually improving it (and adding content). Will pass your comments on to the web side of our business.

    RooleyMoor
    Member

    SJLB – YGM, the guy is very good at SEO too.

    I want to say a big thanks to all the contributors to this thread and to the many people who’ve contacted me directly with services and recommendation, it just reminds why I visit the chat forum.
    I have a few projects in the pipeline, rather than a flat, non-interactive site the particular features I will want soon are are shopping cart, searchable database, secure mail, mailing lists, possibly using mysql , php, asp2 and Ajax but that will be for the experts to propose! I’d be particularly pleased if I could find people with experience in this area and examples I could see ( I dont really want to go down the GAF route again!)
    thanks again to all

    RooleyMoor
    Member

    Jon, my mate’s done shopping cart sites too, and he’s always keen to explore new technologies…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I’m a freelance developer, I’m out of work.. you could ask me 🙂

    Plus I’ve got a complete shopping cart app sat on my machine that I wrote.

    Premier Icon flowmtbguy
    Subscriber

    it’s like that saying: “Light, Cheap, Strong. Choose two”

    On Time, On Spec, Cheap, choose two 🙂

    Saying that – I don’t have any idea what you’re after so don’t know if the 5k is realistic, cheap, or expensive!

    duckers
    Member

    PCI compliant?

    Duckers don’t baffle me with technical jargon!! Yes it would need to be secure to handle card payments, but I would imagine using a widely used simple shopping cart would be appropriate rather than anything specially written.

    Molgrips if you have the skills & experience I mentioned above, (ie beyond simple information sites) mail me and point me to some of your work)

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