If you’re trying to find a Website Designer in Tampa, Florida –get ready to be overwhelmed. Not so much by the number of website designers or web firms in the area but by the fact that there’s an obvious lack of service with many…and many there are. It brings to mind another industry, that not so long ago had a similar influx of professionals who would lie in wait for their next…client. (grin)
Remember when real estate was booming and everyone and your mother was a licensed Florida Real Estate Salesperson (REALTOR)? I had numerous website and graphic design clients in that industry. Over time, it became ever so painfully evident that anyone was allowed to sell real estate in Florida, everyone wanted to sell it —and so they did. I knew that the day would come when the “boys would be separated from the men,” (apologies to my lady friends) as it were, and so, the fly-by-night-ers were inevitably forced to find alternative ways of making money, and the really great Realtors, are still hanging tough in this crazy, unstable housing market—God bless ’em!
I’ve been thinking—“Did some of the Realtors in search of a new career go into freelance website design?” Having said that— (against my better judgment) I’ll go on to say that I’ve worked with many in the Real Estate Industry who I considered to be true professionals and I’ve learned much about what it takes to be an “exceptional realtor” (although I could never be one.) Looking back on that period of time when everyone seemed to hold a license to sell real estate “exceptional realtor” wasn’t easily found. No, not because it’s an oxymoron (silly) but because the industry standard was actually based on a substandard code of acceptable practices.
You could FIND a Realtor without a hitch—Truthfully, most of us could probably say that all we had to do was dial up a family member or neighbor and “bingo” you’ve found a Realtor. However, if finding an “exceptional Realtor” was one’s goal—one would certainly feel as if they were looking for a needle in a haystack. Why? Well, because everyone figured
it a grand idea to get a real estate license and it is fairly easy to obtain. Who could have known the effect it would have had on that industry? I admit that I figured it out before most– Maybe it’s because I was on the outside with a good view to the inside and also—I’m a firm believer in Karma and the Golden Rule or the “what goes around comes around” theory but, I knew that all that “bad business conduct” would eventually come to a screeching halt. Now, everyone knows.
Where am I going with this?
I’m beginning to wonder if the same type of scenario isn’t occurring in the website and graphic design industry. I had to laugh when the thought entered my mind, yet if you’ve looked for a website designer in the Tampa area, or anywhere really, you’ll quickly see what I mean. The options are many—which can be a good thing, or similar to the real estate industry—it may just end up being a terribly bad thing. I suppose time will tell and well–quite possibly– I’ll have the pleasure of being the “town crier” when it does.
But I see the tell-tale signs such as sub-standard service and unacceptable practices and that’s just the start of what’s to come—and what has come. This isn’t simply my opinion. It is unfortunate truth based on some of the horror stories that I’ve verified via my clients. And in all seriousness, it’s a shame to the profession.
With so many web designers to choose from how do you know where to begin or what to be aware of prior to hiring a website designer or graphic designer? If you know nothing about how a website is built, how then will you recognize the difference between a good website designer and a bad one? Aren’t they all the same? Again, let’s compare this to the hiring of a Realtor. Not all Realtors offer the same level of service (even though they should) to reach the same end result for their clients. In both industries some people have more or less experience, some charge more or less, some will provide more service for you and some may do “just enough to get by on.” Some have a big name and are high profile… some of the best in the industry who aren’t highly exposed— will work harder for you. Depending on who you hire, you may pay for actual services rendered or you may be paying more to cover the overhead of your fancy firm’s fancy stuff only to be rendered a “just barely-okay service.” Some web design firms or independent designers may have too much business to manage and cannot give you the desired attention; or worse, they may not be there for you the week after next because they only design websites “part-time.”
Let’s get down to business. When purchasing a service, consumers look first and foremost for the most affordable service —regardless of the type of service they’re seeking. Yet, others prefer to obtain their services from the company that has the most amenities. (Big corporate office, big corporate company cars, big honking payroll, etc., etc.) Folks that fall into that category don’t mind absorbing the cost of their website design firm’s luxurious habits. That’s not a bad thing– just a preference. My mother once said, “You can fall in love with a rich attorney just as easily as you might a general laborer,” and yes, she was probably right. But, she always did choose nearly everything based on “appearances,” as do many other people. Again, it’s not a bad thing, it’s simply a choice.
But, to do so believing that it is a sure fire way to ensure quality service, is simply nonsense. It’s equal to choosing a Realtor based on the fact that she’s adorned both hands with giant diamond rings and drives the car that costs more than your house, who lets the teeny-weenie, million -dollar pooch with hot pink poochie-dog toenails (you know the one— who attends poochie palates with her purse pup twice weekly— simply because “that is” what really successful brokers do, right?) (Pheewww that was a mouthful!) Don’t laugh, it happens! Choosing a designer, graphics or otherwise, shouldn’t be based on appearances alone or talent, alone. Many things come into play and I can’t imagine how frustrating and difficult it must be to have to make that choice.
It apparent that for Tampa’s small business community, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult task, again not for lack of designers or web and graphic design firms—but because there are so many to choose from. Narrowing it down to an intelligent choice is difficult, so if you’re a designer, keep that in mind when you’re speaking with a prospect. Help them along and be honest and forthcoming. I encourage my prospective clients to speak with other Tampa website design firms or designers prior to committing to Bay Area Graphics & Marketing for their business services. I give them a gauge to go by, and suggest to them certain things they should do prior to hiring a website designer. First I suggest that they ask specific questions of their web designer or web design company. I then show them how to obtain information about their designer. I recommend the right way to calculate a cost comparison and how and what to look for in the “boilerplate” should the company offer a contract— which they should. I advise them to have the designer spell everything out in clear terms, terms during the construction of their webiste as well as after the site is launched. Unfortunately, it’s tough to gauge what type of service will be offered to a client once they’ve signed on the dotted line, yet, if a person does a bit of research prior to making a decision, they will at the very least, know that they did everything they could should their business relationship and quality of service with that designer “go south.”
And it does…and they do…and that’s when my phone starts to ring.
But— is service more important than talent? You would be surprised to know that most small business owners would rather trade a little less talent for a website design company that goes above and beyond in service. That company will always get it right; always make it right for their client—one way or the other.
With all of the many web designers to choose from in the Tampa area , to the small business owner choosing a website or graphic designer usually boils down to making one or two phone calls—then, selecting someone based on one of two things. Money and money. Why? Most small business owners know nothing about the website design and/or marketing process— so, out of frustration most will decide based on what they know for sure—Which is generally their bank account balance and considering the talent, knowledge, reputation, loyalty, availability and flexibility of the designer is to some, a moot point—A responsible designer will make it important to their client by reiterating the significance of those qualities and how it will affect the client, long term, and to solidify the overall integrity of their profession.
Most small business owners don’t know what questions to ask their website or graphic designer or how to ask them. They have a vision of what they want and some can even explain it quite well , actually. They just don’t know how to make sure the person they are speaking to can firmly be entrusted with that vision. Still, many end up hiring “on the fly” and then must look forward to initiating some level of damage control six months later. Once they get over the shame of it, they come to my company (or another company) for assistance in re-designing or fixing their website. I tell them it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I admit to my clients that I know nothing about many things so when it comes time for me to “consume” something that I know nothing about—I educate myself and investigate the companies who could provide the product or service first. I further admit that there have been times that I’ve thrown caution to the wind and against all better judgment —have jumped headfirst and blindfolded into a purchase. On more than one occasion I’ve been hopelessly disappointed after making such reckless decisions. Hey…It happens to the best of us.
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