Case Study – Why You Shouldn’t Employ A Web Designer To Make Your Website

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Let me ask you – if you had a choice to work with only one person out of two for your next website project and the two choices you had were:

  • A great web designer who has to hire a web developer or
  • A great web developer who has to hire a web designer

Who would you choose?

The choice might seem simple for some but let me back track a minute.

Recently I had a client who had – what looked like a fairly well completed website – that he wanted some things added to. I asked for the WordPress login details and had a look under the hood. For the next 3 hours I tried my best to make small things like a border work around an image etc. to no avail. The entire site – just to give you an idea – under the hood was completely custom modified by another web developer – and I simply couldn’t work in his code.

Eventually I just created a separate Wordpress installation and created the page the client wanted – informing the client that I am unable to work in the structure of his current site.

The next day the client and myself were on the phone and he was discussing the previous project. Apparently he paid a very top end graphic designer $5k+ to create a logo and the front page of the site – for which he got a ‘brand guideline’ document. If you’ve never gotten one of these it’s basically a document that for example tells you how much spacing should be in between the logo and the outer elements – you can see this below:

This is all well and good – and if you’re a client you’ll feel you got some sophisticated content but then the issues come in.

The Move to Developer

You see – when you hire a designer – what that means is the designer has to then hire a developer to put his layout together – and then the sh*t show starts. You see design and development are two separate things. However with design you see the issues up front.

When I created a sample layout for a client there were some issues he had – he could see them right away – and he commented on what those issues were and we fixed those. However the development side was different.

Firstly the designer had outsourced the work overseas – to some guy in India I believe – but regardless of where he outsourced it to – of course he was trying to save money and keep a bigger slice of the pie for himself. This is completely understandable and I’m not here to question it – heck if you gave me money to build a website and that required getting a designer I’d try to save money too and get the best bang for my buck.

The only difference is that when I showed you the layouts you would know straight away what the issue was – if it looked like crap – but not so with development – issues that fester with development will only show up at a later date – and when the foundation structure that is poured on is crap – there is nothing you can do but start again.

The Developer Roadpath

These days I do all the design myself – I ask a client what kind of websites they like and I literally copy a lot of elements to make something very similar. I don’t put myself out there as a “creative mastermind” – and to be honest – for the vast majority of business – a “creative mastermind” is not what they need. They just need a site that has information that’s easy to navigate and find, clean, looks professional and shows up in Google. The fundamentals.

I’m not against design – and I definitely believe that there’s some shockingly bad looking websites out there – however I just feel with the tools that I have it’s very difficult not to make something that looks good – looking good is not a problem. But I’m not into the “make my website look like a one of a kind Picasso painting”.

The reality is – personally – I have never bought something from a website because it was so “beautiful”. Don’t get me wrong – I may have overlooked a product that had shoddy web design – but if the website looked clean and professional – I’ve never not bought something because the web design didn’t “inspire me” lol.

Now in fairness you could argue that certain fashion companies need an amazing design but even if you check Hugo Boss – it’s a very standard clean layout.

The point is – people these days are not looking to be “wowed” by your web design – they’ve seen itall. They just want your site to be fast, to be clean, to give them what they want quickly with no issues – and if you do that – they will love you – or more specifically – won’t get the sh*ts with you – really the goal of web design in the future is for the client not to get the sh*ts.

The focus of clients these days should be on eliminating road blocks for clients to get what they need – rather than creating one of a king Picasso paintings.

And this is why you should always hire a great developer with crappy design skills rather than a great designer with crappy developer skills.

Kosta Kondratenko is a web developer working for his company Head Studios. He specializes in WordPress custom development and SEO. He has over 10 years of experience and loves to write blog posts about topics happening in his industry. He’s passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their goals.