Blog - Just Developer Things

To Hire Or Not To Hire


What I’m about to say is going to both sound very counterproductive on my part, and likely come as an annoyance to my colleagues…But please hear me out; maybe, just maybe, you don’t need to hire a Web Designer.

In fact in today’s online world, I hate to say it but you don’t need to hire a Web Designer at all.

Now I can hear the pitch-forks being sharpened, and torches lit.

I wrote much of this prior to the COVID-19 outbreak here in the US, and am finally being pushed to publish this site and this post in response to loss of work hours, so in fact at this point there is a real sense of irony.  But I believe in this, so I refuse to change it.

I sense my fellow designers circling my home like vultures.  So before I continue to sign my own death warrant, allow me to expand.

Not EVERY individual or business NEEDS a Web Designer.

“But Patrick!” I hear you saying, “Today’s business model basically demands I have a website, how else will I improve my online presence?” and how very astute of you random internet person; but get out of my house, you’re getting straw everywhere.

It’s true that modern business requires modern solutions, and that includes an online presence which is helped by a website.  But nowadays you don’t need a Web Designer, to get a website.  That’s not to say that all of these “alternatives” are created equally.  I would sooner choke on my own internal organs than recommend most “site-builders” like Wix, Weebly, or the “DIY-builders” included with most web hosts, as unless practices have changed drastically, these template-based WYSIWYG services are clumsy at best and have poor web standard compatibility/compliance at worst.  I can distinctly recall a very recent point in time when some of these such sites were still rendering their entire page content via JavaScript, essentially making those sites unusable for those with it disabled.

That said, WYSIWYG services are for many the only means of building their web presence.  I’d love to advise everyone to hire their favorite designer every time they have a new web project, I assure you most of us could use the work.  But the truth is, for many (especially those just starting off, the kind of people most likely looking to build that aforementioned presence) such project work is far out of their budget.  If I were to level one major critique at my own industry, it would be this; we’re very expensive.  That’s not the dig it sounds like, and I include myself in that as well, we are very expensive but not without reason.  We have skill sets others do not, and we charge for the use of those skills accordingly.

It is not only the job of a designer to simply create an attractive visual design, but to do so in a way that shows an understanding of the clients market and demographics, and even more importantly is functional, scalable, respects design philosophies and is accessible.  It’s the truth of the matter that websites are largely visual mediums, but a large demographic are unable to easily experience those types of services.  It is the job of a designer to bridge those gaps, something even I am guilty of lacking at times, despite the fact I’ve just preached that very principle this very site will go through stages were it may not function properly on every device, or it may lack “alt-text” on images.  But it is my job as a designer to acknowledge and repair those failings.

You should evaluate your needs and budget, a designer will cost more in the short-term, but a good designer will leave you with a site you can alter and manage (within reason) without needing to overhaul the entire design each time, and unlike a WYSIWYG site, your design will generally feel more unique to you.

If you’re going to build your website yourself, I suggest two things;

  1. If you need to go the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) route, I recommend SquareSpace.  This isn’t a sponsorship, the link below (despite looking like most affiliate links) simply takes you to their site.  They are however one of the few companies of their kind that I have both tried and would actually recommend.
  2. Do some market research, look at the sites of other people or companies in your industry and determine what features are commonplace.  This will help you better research what capability your site provider needs to have.

On the Subject of SquareSpace

I first and foremost applaud SquareSpace as they’re more than just easy to use, they do not lock SSL security behind an additional paywall.  This does come at a technical limitation however, as in order to ensure that, you would need to migrate any existing domains to their service.  This means they then control your DNS settings.  For the average user this should be a relative non-issue, and their staff can generally assist in any needed modifications for things like mail servers.  That said it means you may find some more advanced options you might have for DNS from say CloudFlare, to be missing.

They don’t limit your bandwidth or storage, even on their lowest tier plan.  This means it’s a great option for people who wish to host large portfolios of photos and videos, but don’t want to pay storage costs.  However some site integrations, such as an “Announcement Bar”, or completely customizable CSS for styling, are locked behind higher tiers.  In some cases these are related to the e-Commerce features available on their business tiers, but the lack of complete CSS control is an issue to me.

For those more ambitious/technically savvy you can enable Developer Mode, and write your own code entirely.  However it is still built on their code-base meaning there are certain tool-kits you might commonly use elsewhere that won’t work here.  This does have the benefit of an “infinite trial mode” for the duration that your site is in Development mode, but it is not view-able to the public.  However, since enabling Developer Mode allows you to alter their code base, your site may no longer receive regular updates.


On the Subject of My Services

While I can offer Design services on their own, I decided to setup a series of packages for those who might need a little more from their designer/developer.  Below are three hosting tiers, each includes an initial design as a part of the site setup.  Alterations may be covered past the initial launch, depending on complexity, however updates and maintenance are included.

The primary difference between my “Private” and “Shared” plans, are that a Private plan includes a web-server entirely to yourself.  This likely sounds the most ideal, but is more costly to provide, so I also offer a “Shared” tier, which unlike the name may suggest does not mean your data is accessible to other clients on your server, but rather that a single server has been broken down into multiple smaller servers, each hosting a client.  This allows me to distribute resources across smaller sites.  A larger website will likely require a private server just based on resources alone.

The bulk of the cost here is in the design work, what this does is break the normally high cost of a website design into smaller monthly installments and includes it with the hosting costs.  This does mean that I will technically require that the site remain on my hosting until that total cost is paid, however it doesn’t have any interest and once it’s paid you’re free to take your site and files elsewhere.  I’ll even provide you a GitHub repository full of your files (in the case of large files, some sites may not be supported on GitHub and another service may need to be used).

If you’re just looking for a site design and are not in need of hosting, disregard the pricing below and drop me a message!

 

Beginner (Managed) "Private"
month
$150*
Fully Designed, Hosted, and Managed
A plan for those with little to no Web experience.
Website Design*
Private Server Hosting*
Managed Software Updates
DNS Monitoring
Anti-SPAM Protection
SSL Security
Domain*
Request a Quote
Beginner (Managed) "Shared"
month
$100*
Fully Designed, Hosted, and Managed
A plan for those with little to no Web experience. Who don't need a server all to themselves.
Website Design*
Shared Server Hosting*
Managed Software Updates
DNS Monitoring
Anti-SPAM Protection
SSL Security
Domain*
Request a Quote
Advanced (Hosted) "Private"
month
$80*
Fully Designed and Hosted, You Manage
A plan for those with the know-how, but not the resources.
Website Design*
Private Server Hosting*
Managed Software Updates
DNS Monitoring
Anti-SPAM Protection
SSL Security (Server-Side)
Domain*
Request a Quote

For questions on hosting and services, visit the FAQ.

SquareSpace

Varies
9.4

Security

9.5/10

Storage/Bandwidth

10.0/10

SEO Features

9.5/10

Customization

8.0/10

Upkeep

10.0/10

Pros

  • SSL is included on all tiers
  • Unlimited Storage/Bandwidth
  • No need to run updates
  • 24/7 Support on all tiers
  • Developer Mode gives extra options

Cons

  • CSS and JS customizations are limited on some tiers
  • Some integrations are "Premium"
  • Some marketing analytics are on higher tiers
  • Sites tend to look fairly similar
  • DNS settings are not in your control
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This post was written by Patrick Barnhardt

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