I strongly believe in working closely with my clients on projects. This is because the websites that I aim to design are highly customized to our client’s needs and requirements. I also believe that it is important to keep the client involved and connected throughout every phase of the project, and I try to do this as much as possible. I usually offer a non-obligatory meetup during the start of the project, which combines 2 things: introduce myself and what I do, as well as find out everything I need to know regarding the client’s company, requirements, problems and needs.
Before beginning the project, it is also important to clearly outline the expectations, fees, services provided – so as to reduce misunderstandings between both parties.
However, throughout the course of the project, I sometimes receive requests from clients to meet-up to discuss the design or development issues. This is quite a difficult situation to be in – as such requests would normally not come up before the engagement of the project, and therefore would not be considered in the final fee. The official agreement also states that the cost only includes meet-ups at our office, and not at the client’s location.
But why am I not able to provide such personalized service then, if I pride myself on customized solutions?
In short – limitations.
- As one-half of a 2-woman show, I am the salesperson – project manager – designer – developer – tester – customer relations officer – finance manager and more! As much as I would love to provide every single client personalized service, I do have other responsibilities ongoing at the same time. Going to a client’s location would remove at least 3-4 hours from my time in the office, which sets back my other client’s deadlines.
- The fees charged do not include additional time required for the travel to/from the client’s location, and one-on-one consultation with the client. Did you know that when hiring an agency, you are actually paying for the project manager’s time to handle your project, and managing meet-ups and discussions? The fees can go up to as much as $5000 just for the project manager – possibly includes all the Uber rides he has to take as well. You haven’t even yet included the cost of the actual product!
- The client did not request prior to the project for such one-on-one service – therefore it was not factored into the cost or project schedule.
- It is unfair to our other clients who adhered to the agreement, but suffer having their project delayed.
Client relationships and mutual respect are one of the core building blocks of a small agency/freelancer. It is important to understand each other from differing point-of-views. Understanding of expectations from the get-go is essential, and as much as possible, something I try to establish for a successful working relationship.
Hello everyone, its been a while since I’ve blogged and today I’d like to discuss the reality that we web designers face today – free DIY websites. So a couple of these have been cropping up – a popular one is Wix, Blogger, WordPress.com. Here’s what they usually promise – build your own professional-looking website for absolutely free, no programming knowledge needed, no paying designers, no recurring hosting fees, FREE templates!
Sounds amazing! But what’s the catch?
Building your website for free on a platform like Wix comes at a price. Your website will be host to Wix’s advertisements. While your free site might not have cost you a cent, a pretty obvious stamp that tells people you got it done for absolutely nothing does cheapen it a bit.
This sticks to the bottom of the browser, on every page!
All of this will eventually affect your business or company’s professionalism and credibility. Will you be willing to engage a company, or proceed with an online transaction (a daunting task in itself) on a website that was built on a free platform?
- Domain name The worst thing about free website builders is that, unless you upgrade to their Premium plans, you will have to use their domain name yourname.wixsite.com. Nothing screams unprofessionalism than a wixsite.com address.
- Most features aren’t available until you upgrade to their Premium plansThey have to make money somehow right? Their free sites are essentially a demo to their actual product, which is all part of their Premium plans. Granted, that it is still quite affordable at around SGD$17/month and will roughly cost you about SGD$200/year. It is definitely a better option than shelling out a few thousand dollars on a professional designer to craft a personalized website for you, and I would actually recommend this option for people who aren’t yet confident to invest in their business or company and just need to test the waters a little bit.
- There is a little bit of a learning curve, but their website builder is pretty neat
Well, now that you aren’t paying someone to do all the technical bits for you, it’s up to you to learn how to use their website builder. I admit, it is pretty good for a free website but of course there are limitations to what you can do. You must be satisfied with whatever little you can change.
- Lack of personalization optionsThis is another issue that free web builders aren’t able to address. You’re extremely limited to what you can change. So if you wanted a specific change to the design, it might be impossible to make that change simply because you do not have access to the actual codes. You can only change what they allow you to change.
When should you hire a web designer then?
Wix sites are amazing for people who are just starting out on an idea or business, and not yet ready to invest too heavily yet. You get some basic features, and a free presence on the web for a small amount of money. But when and why should you hire?
- You do not have any design sense, and need someone to do it! Many of my clients have actually tried their hand at creating their own websites before engaging me to do it! What I hear most from them is “It is not professional enough. I’m not a designer.” Which is perfectly fine! Not everyone is born with a keen sense of colours, typography, typesetting and layout. It is amazing how very slight oddities to font, colour, spacing can break the whole design.
- You want to focus on your business, while someone handles the techy parts! Let’s face it. You’ll probably be making more money focusing on the core essence of the business or company, rather than fumbling with design, editing of content and maintenance of the website.
- You’re ready to take your business to a new level You’ve spent a few months on Facebook, your business is starting to get successful and you’re ready to launch a full blown website for a fresh online-presence. Having a website not only shows how professional your company or business is, but a website with a good design is sure to raise some eyebrows. Investing in a website also shows that you’re in for the long run.
- You understand the importance of design How does Apple sell overpriced MacBooks with half the specs of a PC laptop? Good design and marketing. Good design sells. Good design is able to shape your price. Good design is able to alter first impressions. That’s how important good design is.
In conclusion, free to build websites are great for those who are not too serious, or not willing to invest yet into their company or business. But a good website designed by a professional will definitely set you apart from your competitors. In this day an age, we’re almost always on our phones and the first thing we do when we check out a new business is to go to their website. That being said, it should be as great and impressive as your company is!
Hello all! I haven’t blogged in a while.
So today, more than 1 year after I’ve set up Hello Pomelo Creatives, I’ll share why I decided to set up a company when I was already quite successful as a freelancer. It all started when I was working at other agencies, my old work places. These were established web design companies, who have been around for quite a while. I’ve handled whole projects from start to finish, we were given free reign pretty much – from emails and discussions with the client, designing, reviewing what the client liked and disliked, development up till launch, and even post-launch support. Every single aspect of it (once the project was confirmed) was handled by 1 person.
Then I started thinking… Hey, I could handle a whole project in an agency, delivery agency-quality work (but at the agency’s inflated prices), why should I work for anyone? So I declined a job offer that my internship company wanted to give me when I were to graduate 1 year later.
And I started a company where I aimed to provide quality agency work (isn’t the work still done by the same person? Me?) but without the inflated agency prices. At Hello Pomelo Creatives, you’re not paying a premium agency fee and you’re still getting the same amount of work by that 1 employee which, in an agency, would’ve been assigned to your project anyway.
What you also get is an unparalleled passion from a business owner, which you’ll probably not find in an employee!