7 reasons why it’s better to hire a freelance web developer or specialist over a large company.
1. Low Overheads
The main reason, perhaps, is because they are cheaper. When there is wages, superannuation, insurance, maternity leave and rent, you have to keep the coal fires burning. And that means taking on every job that comes in. These days many freelance web designers work from home. They have tiny overheads and if they are doing okay, will only take on jobs that they like and can manage. Companies take all work – sometimes just to keep afloat. Low overheads not only half the price of your website but they double the availability any web designer has to work on smaller jobs.
2. No Queues
Big clients bring in big money for web companies and smaller clients have to wait in line. Big jobs can go on for months, sometimes years. It’s no problem to drop a $6K website when you have million dollar contracts. Why would a big company care about your little website? Freelancers don’t have big clients because it would mean hogging up all their time. A good Freelancer’s aim is to make a really great website – one worthy of showcasing on a portfolio page. Because their advertising budget is low, they need to do a good job. Word of mouth travels fast. So in general, you’ll find they respond to queries quicker. In the scheme of things, you’re quite important. You’ll probably get a direct line, rather than having to wait in a queue or play he-said she-said games with the receptionist and project manager. Because a freelance web designer’s budget is minimal, our work and our testimonials is the best ad for our services. And because the left hand and right hand belong to the same person, we’re often much more efficient than a sales or servicing department.
3. New Technology
Large companies are weighed down by process. If you read any management book at all, you’ll discover that process is part of the intellectual property (IP) a proprietor sells when he/she finally lets go of a business. The aim of identifying, measuring, categorising and then training a work methodology takes a long time to establish. In an industry where the technology changes almost monthly, adjusting to change and effectively communicating those changes to staff can take some time. But the web waits for no-one. A freelancer can change as soon as new technology (such as responsive web design) hits the ‘net. There’s no complex chain of management for seeking approval. Often freelancers freelance because they don’t like playing Chinese Whispers and dislike office politics (and dreaded work parties). A freelancer just wants to do a great job and proudly sit you on a podium in their showroom.
4. Skills & Qualifications
Is the person building your website fully qualified? Are they aware of industry best practices and coding standards? Or is there poorly paid twenty-something sitting in a back room, drinking coke while using Dreamweaver to build your site – without any real knowledge about the underlying code? If you go with a large company, your designer will probably be a cheap graduate because that’s where the money is. It’s likely that he or she will also be 100% responsible for the build of your site – responsible to the company bottom line – not to you and your web site. His boss knows very little about web design. More likely, he will be reading about how to maximise profit, how to expand, or how to franchise the company. If he can pay a web designer $25/hr and out-charge to you at $200/hr, then he’ll be okay. None of this is remotely related to your website. A skilled Freelance web developer will be able to build your entire website using Microsoft Notepad. Unlike the company boss, he is probably in love with coding and designing and that’s what your website is. It’s quite a different volition.
You’re with a web firm and they’ve tasked a great project and marketing manager. They seem to listen well – identifying your needs and suggesting solutions. He or she is probably attractive. It’s customary to send an attractive (often opposite sex young person) out to meet clients. All goes well. Problems start when the person who probably has a marketing background communicates your web site dream to designers and then programmers and project or line managers. Communication becomes a game of Chinese Whispers. YOU are several degrees of separation away from the people who are actually building your site. And in many cases, coders are outside of the country. The company boss doesn’t want you to meet that person because he might tell you how much he’s getting paid. How often have you heard, “I forwarded that info to our Content Manager on Tuesday. Oh. She didn’t get back to you? Hang on … Ah, yes it looks like she’s away on maternity leave. Is there anything I can help you with?” The point I’m trying to make is that nobody is really listening to you. I know this because I’ve been that guy not listening on behalf of a company. The guy not revealing just how little time the thing you want will take. The real cost. When your web guy is working for the man, he’s answerable to his bottom line – not yours. Freelancers are answerable to clients and the work they do. Good freelancers listen. Not all do, of course, but if you find one that does – latch on.
6. Volition / Raison d’etre / The point of it all
Freelance web developers are in the business because they want to build really smart websites that work for people – sites that bring in new sales and business opportunities. Freelancers love what they do. Their intent is yours : they want to build the best website possible – not pay 12% Superannuation for 5 employees. Freelancers also tend to shy away from doing jobs they aren’t interested in. Few build sites for money. It’s why they are freelancers. They want to code, not run a business. Like me, most don’t see a need to expand. They are happy to either design or code (or do both) up websites. They have NO overheads and fewer financial responsibilities. If they are doing well, there’s NO reason to say yes to a job. Company bosses are staring at payroll, super, time-in-lieu, maternity and sick leave paperwork while trying to work out how to turn a profit over those expenses.
This is the big one. Freelancers actually care about what they do. I’m not being twee here. A freelance web designer’s career depend on how much they care. The website they build for you will be their own. If I were you I’d want that to be the case. It is definitely NOT the case with a web design company. That site is solely yours. Check out any website made by a company. Any website at all. It’s not uncommon for companies to charge between $4k – $10K for a basic website. $1K will get you a cracking good freelancer-built website. Often the job and resulting website functionality is exactly the same, but for a third the cost.
The upshot of it all this is that freelancers can’t charge an arm and a leg to build a basic website. If they are just getting their act together, then you might even get a crazy deal (think under $1,000). Most Freelancers rarely build websites for more than about $3K because that job will takes them away from less intense and more interesting pursuits. They aren’t in it for the money. I can promise you that. Otherwise, they’d start a company – and then franchise it. Web company bosses probably originally went into web design because they loved the code and the creative way that you can express intention with a website. Sadly, being a boss no longer allows them to experiment and play with code and images. The bottom line is simple :