Getting Started

Basic information about websites and the web design business

Types of Web Designers

Getting Started

As we’ve already talked about, finding a good web designer can be tricky. There are a lot of good ones out there, surely, but there are a lot who are offering website design services they don’t have the expertise or experience to provide, and who will ultimately waste your time and your money and cause you hair loss. So, how is someone in your shoes — who is understandably more worried about running his or her business than learning web lingo — supposed to find a good designer?

Varieties of web designers and developers

A good start in your search for the right designer is to understand the different varieties of designers that are out there. Let’s take a brief moment (I know you’re busy) to look at the web business, from freelancers to big companies, and consider the pros and cons of working with each.

For the record, technically speaking, a designer designs a site while a developer actually codes and develops it, but many if not most people and companies do some of each.

Big companies

First, (and likely most irrelevantly), there are the big companies. You can go to IBM to design your website, and they’ll be happy to do it for $100,000. Unless you’re running a mega-store with outlets in different states and need some serious infrastructure built to handle the millions of dollars of monthly revenue you’ll be accruing, you can likely skip this option.

Small companies

Next would be the small-to-medium sized web development companies. An average sized city like Tucson probably has a number of these, and they’re not necessarily a bad bet. The pros of working with an established company would be a greater likelihood they’ll see the project through to completion and will support it once it’s finished, and also that they’ll have a larger skill-base to work from. Potential drawbacks include higher prices, less customization or creativity in design and less one-on-one face time. Of course, not all companies are the same, and you’ll have to evaluate each one individually.

Experienced freelancers

Experienced freelancers are website designer/developers who have been around the block a few times. They’ve either worked for companies and left to start their own business, or they’ve been working for themselves for a good while. They have the skills and knowledge to build solid websites and are often able to do so for somewhat lower costs than a company will due to lower overhead expenses. Potential drawbacks include the difficulty in determining whether a person is a skilled and qualified freelancer or a newbie who talks big, as well as the potential limitations of working with just one person (who will need to have a wide range of web expertise, from SEO and valid coding practices to design/art skill and database knowledge, to deliver an optimal product to you). On the plus side, if you find a good freelancer, chances are they have the ability to develop your site, and can work with you patiently and creatively to create something truly unique and effective.

Sort-of experienced freelancers (and companies)

While experienced, qualified freelancers and companies have a keen eye for website design and good development practices, there are a surprising number of them who have been around a while, turn out sites, but don’t seem to have ever gotten to that level of professionalism or quality that a good designer/developer appreciates. While working with an individual or company like this may get you a website, it may look relatively amateurish and will potentially not be coded efficiently or effectively.

Not-so-experienced freelancers

A step below the sort-of experienced freelancer would be what I call the “not-so-experienced freelancers.” They’re a well-intentioned group, but they may not have the diverse array of website design and development skills that are needed to develop strong e-commerce sites. They may not have the design experience to develop sites with proper color schemes, navigability, flow or that just plain look good. That said, everyone starts somewhere. There are a lot of students and relative-beginners who have a lot of potential but are still learning (of course we’re all still learning, but you know what I mean). There’s certainly risk involved, but if you can find a student who seems competent and trustworthy and your website needs aren’t extraordinary, you may be able to (patiently) work with him or her to get a pretty decent site for significantly less money than you’d pay an experienced firm.


The last group of designers would be what I call the “avoidables,” for the lack of a better term. They’re not really well-intentioned beginners as much as they are just people who have jumped on the “web design bandwagon” and want to make a quick buck without investing the requisite time and energy in learning good web practices and developer skills and a portfolio. They may have played around a bit with Dreamweaver or Photoshop and might tell you they can build your site, but there’s a decent chance they’re planning to “learn as they go” and will ultimately disappear into the nether once they realize they’re in over their heads. In short, be on the lookout these “designers” — they’re out there.

There’s no right or wrong answer

Of course, as a freelance web designer here in Tucson, I can be a little biased, but truth is there’s not really a single right answer to who you should allow to work on your website. It depends on your business, your web needs, who you feel comfortable with and what options are available to you. If you really need to save money, take a little extra time to inform yourself about what makes a quality website and find someone who hasn’t been around long but seems competent and work with them. If getting a quality website up and running and being certain you’re getting a good product are more important to you than saving a few bucks, check out the freelancers and design companies in Tucson or abroad.

Next we’ll take a look at where you should look to find the right designer, what important considerations you need to make and what criteria you should use when evaluating potential developers.

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3 Comments to "Types of Web Designers"

  1. […] Tucson web designer may simply be where to look. We’ve already talked about the different types of web designers, but whether you’re looking for a freelancer or a design firm, where’s the best place […]

  2. Dylan

    September 14, 2011

    good post!

    • Dylan

      September 14, 2011

      I belong in the ‘experienced freelancers’ category


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