Can we have a conversation about shady practices and problems in web design that hurting the industry. : web_design

By Prosyscom
In March 17, 2018


Hi guys,

Just to start I am a fullstack developer that has done design work with projects that I have taken up. My disclaimer is that I have never gotten paid for strictly design work and therefore I am not a designer. My design work is okay, not great, but could be described as doing a fairly decent job for a small company that doesn’t need a lot done.

I want to talk about the stuff that I’ve been coming across over my years of development experience that is off putting to clients, developers, and other designers. I want specifically talk about “web designers” and more specifically web designers from regions of the world with higher incomes like America, Canada, Most of the EU, Australia, etc.

First I’ll talk about the thing I absolutely hate. Shady wordpress “designers” who rip off small businesses. This is extremely common. This usually consists of people buying customizable themes with a WYSIWYG editor plugin and doing small customizations to the theme and selling it to a client for in many cases a tremendous price. I actually came across someone doing this with a free theme and charging $6,000 CAD per site. The common rate for the guys doing this are around $3,000. This should be outright fraudulent from what I’ve seen.

Over the last few months I’ve been getting ready to launch a startup. It’s been through trying to hire a freelance web designer over the last few weeks where I have had problems. The main one? People overpricing their ability.

These are not exact numbers

A mid level in house web designer is taking an average of $35 CAD per hour home in Canada. Americans typically have higher wages than us so that might be up to $15 higher, but for ease let’s $45 CAD. When it comes to hiring a freelancer I typically tend to pay closer to 30% higher than median wage for the same level of skill to cover the freelancers expenses (insurance costs, other expenses, etc). So let’s make it $65 CAD per hour for someone with give or take 4 years of experience.

The problem here is that the bulk of freelancers you talk to will be freelancing because they don’t have experience, or skill to get a position in a firm. There are freelancers that do it for freedom and because they can make it on their own, but from what I’ve seen they’re few and far between.

The bulk of portfolios that I’ve had come my way are at junior level and most of the time I’ve included better design in my fullstack projects (I was roughly $65 an hour). A good bulk of these designers are asking over $125 an hour. This is something that is indirectly encouraged in this very sub. Some of them are just outright copying designs they’ve seen on dribbble or are grabbing from a template and make modifications to it. If you have a smaller firm, you can start justifying that turf, but you as one individual freelancer? Unless you’re in the top percentage of designers, or are taking advantage of people that don’t know any better.

It should also be known for designers, or anyone getting into freelancing, that personality is also making it hard to make a decision. Not only do I have to go through dozens of portfolios while I have to work on my project, I also have to coordinate the people that I contact back, go through multiple discovery phases, and ask myself if I really trust this person and can depend on them to get the job done. You might be surprised how many times I’ve asked questions like if they do in browser, adobe xd, or photoshop designs and been ghosted, or felt like I was chasing the designer around.

The last part I’ll complain about is on that I’ve complained about before on here and either taken slack, or enlighten people to. Dribbble really is the only service that indexes designers work in a way that makes it easy to go through. The problem? It costs $250 per month to use Dribbbles search function as someone that’s looking to hire a designer. Yes, you can use fancy google queries to help index work a bit easier, but for small businesses and programmers looking to have their stuff properly designed it creates a massive barrier.

Then there’s the intellectual property problem. Contracts are expensive.

All of these things make it collectively hard on me as an employer to hire and hard on you as a designer to stand out in the crowd. Evaluating both your design and business ability are your keys to effectively pricing and marketing yourself. I feel like that’s lost on a lot of freelance designers and its also touted in forums like these to maintain a high unjustifiable value for themselves from a select few that can actually charge 100+ an hour and continuously get work, or the lot who just lie out of ego. Forums can also really perpetuate that every client is going to be the client from hell.

There is a space for those who want to be primarily web designers in 2018 and I feel like that space is relative to dealing with programmers or startups looking to design their product.

The hard part that I’ve found is that it’s now increasingly hard for those who are hiring to do one of the following things:

  • Hire from a cheaper country like India. It’s pretty well just as hard now as it would be for Canada, or the United States.

  • Having a full stack/ front end dev like me do it. Since it’s cheaper and easier to get it all done by the same person. Although the design will not be of the same quality.

  • Putting your design needs up on 99designs, or another contesting site. This is the option I’m constantly told by other devs and it makes sense on another level that all of the intellectual property contracts are built into the contests.

For small businesses

There’s a lot of competition out there and it’s kind of a shame that I see a real need for people who primarily web designers, but their are just so many barriers in the way of getting to great designers that work well with you.


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