Web Designers and Design Groups, Are They Worth It?

Special Webdesign Teams (featured image)

Webdesign teams for small business websites?

You go to Google and check to see what web designers are available to build your website, or someone gives you a reference claiming the web design company did a good job for their website.

Arriving at the web designers website, it looks neat. Great images, arrangement, layout, color balanced and eye catching effects. You think, well these guys know what they are doing. Their website claims their “team” has experience in HTML, CSS 3, JavaScript, PHP and more, so you hire them, even if their price caused you to bite your lip a bit.

Was there anything wrong with all that? – Sometimes No.

There are great web designers around, but there are also a lot of charlatans, unethical and irresponsible ones too. It is just like any business, there are good and bad ones. The key is knowing how to spot a good web designer or web design company and a bad or less than adequate one.

Fancy Websites

Websites that are fancy looking do not make a web designer. Why is this?

The majority of web design companies use WordPress for their own business websites. Whether they use WordPress, Joomla or some other type of CMS framework, all of them are made and designed by someone else. They are not made or designed by the “web design group” you seek to hire. Still, even those that don’t use WordPress or some other CMS framework, the design group will not be building your website from scratch because of the time and cost.

Building from Scratch

What does “from scratch” mean?

In the context of this article, “from scratch” means to build the entire website by hand, creating code from the first character to the last using no outside templates or plugins.

If a design team tells you that they are building your site from scratch and your only paying a couple thousand dollars for the entire job, they are not telling you the truth, at the least, the definition of “scratch” is misapplied.

To build from scratch, as I have defined it, and it is a team of designers/developers doing the job, would cost you more than $10,000 because it takes lots of time to do it from scratch. I should know, I have done it. I also personally know other developers who spend around 12 hrs per day building a framework for a website or developing WordPress themes of their own.

Actual Cost of Websites

Since building a website from scratch is costly, what do most or all web designers do to keep the cost and time to a minmum?

They use templates.

Most CMS frameworks are free. WordPress is for free, Joomla and Drupal are free. All of these also provide free themes and provide theme versions where you pay a fee. The web design group did not make their website that impressed you, the web design company got the CMS framework, a free or paid theme and simply put the pieces together, which, by the way, you can do yourself if you are willing to spend the time learning.

With time and effort, anyone can learn to install WordPress, Joomla or Drupal and install a theme to make it look fancy. There are lots of online tutorials and books available, if you are willing to spend the time. So the fancy neat looking website that you see for most of the web design companies are WordPress websites or they are some other CMS framework they have used.

What does this show?

It shows that web design companies need to use templates developed by someone else to build a website in less time and less effort. Ever read a claim that they will get your website built quickly? – Yep, that is because they have everything ready as a template to simply install, plugin and voila, a quick website. Most people don’t know that people other than the design group took long hours to build those templates.

A Team vs One Designer/Developer

Which is better? A team of web designers building your site or just one? Allow me to place this into perspective for you.


A team of designers will cost you more than just one, because all of them are earning a living building websites, so for a company to use a team of designers to build your website will cost them in man-hours and that cost is transferred to you. For a company to claim the cost is less or equal to hiring just one web designer, don’t be fooled. Again the profit of doing has to come from somewhere.

A team that does a website cheaply, now has to do the same for others in volume to make it profitable. Yes, volume sales is the only way that companies can make money on low prices and claim it is a team of designers doing the job.

If the cost is cheap, it is a volume sale and you become a number, if the cost is high, then your paying for the man-hours of the team.

Remember this, a volume sale, your not as important as you think. The “team” will not spend more time on your site than what was alloted to ensure lowest cost on their part. For them to do more work (more time), means more cost to you, please remember that.

One Designer

One designer is cheaper than a team. Whether the website build is cheap or cost a thousand or two, the overall cost is still cheaper to use one web designer. Plus your not a number in any volume sale, especially with Form Web Design.

When is a team needed?

Here is the difference. Large complex sites, then seek a professional team that has a reputation of doing that sort of work. Large complex sites take a lot of time, even with templates to piece together and working properly (nothing is plug and play).  For example, the website run by the City of Vancouver BC required  a team of designers/developers to complete.

Small business websites, even those to 35 pages, a single web designer can handle. Go beyond that, even a lot more, then a team is needed because the many tasks can be divided to each team member.

Website Building Skills

Did someone need skills in HTML5, CSS3, PHP etc, to create a WordPress site?

No, they do not. What do you think a lot of these “do it yourself” website build services use, as Wix and Amazon? They use a CMS framework much like WordPress.

What then is the moral of this story? – Here is the important difference.

To repair, upgrade, modify, customize (like I did with this WordPress site), maintain, the web designer does have to know HTML5, CSS3, PHP, JavaScript and jQuery because all CMS websites use those 5 core technologies to look and function the way they do. If a web designer does not know these core technologies, he cannot ensure your website works, stays working and looks great.

Don’t be fooled by fancy looking websites. I have spoken to many clients who had horror stories with web design companies. One such story cost a lady I know $20,000 for her business website, and I looked at it, the cost was way too high. Sadly, her disappointment did not stop there. She got another web design company to re-design the website using WordPress for 1/5th of the cost. Then only to find that they too turned out irresponsible and they too proclaimed a great team.

There is so much more to web design than a fancy CMS website and proclaiming a team.

If you seek fancy and ignore what is behind all of that, then you will likely be fooled as so many others were.

Seek responsible, reliable web design people (people are first, then the company), they will tell you that fancy does not make a good website and in fact, they will show you a clean, decent website that looks professional, functions well and fancy was not the mainstay, all for a decent cost. This is what my training at BCIT gave me and I see that it is true.

Is “looking good” is ignored? – heavens No, but the true web designer places function and practical use & value first. Real professional web designers and developers will say the exact same thing because in the end,  a visitor to your website spends less than a few seconds to view fancy and quickly moves to functionality (how fast they can get the information they need).

I have seen too many fancy looking websites that function poorly, even poorly show in mobile screens. (see an example here – Bad Mobile Sites )

CMS Websites a Sin?

Please don’t misunderstand, using WordPress, Joomla or any CMS framework is not a web design sin, because it does provide a means for people as yourself to manage a website much easier. What I am saying is that a fancy website (built in WordPress or Joomla) does not, by itself, denote a good web design company, or team.

At Form Web Design, I always promote value and purpose in design and good content layouts. Depending on the site and its goals, some things can include fancy effects, but in the end, these effects do not create conversions (people contacting you because they visited your website).

I stand behind my work and provide a 2 month guarantee with perks to prove my position. I can build a fancy WordPress site if asked, but I promote value and quality first.

When you look at the web designers website, do you know that he/she did not really create it, someone else did and that it is a WordPress (or Joomla or some CMS made site).

Hopefully, this should spur you to ask more questions about the web design company. A team of designers do not necessarily make a good web design company, but they can surely make for a larger bill.