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Thread: What is the state of web design biz going forward?

  1. #21
    root Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen View Post

    The website management game is dying, I can see about 25% of the amount of freelancers currently on the market now in 5 years. It's the same way with everything for small companies. Want a logo? Fiverr exists or some logo maker website. Need a website managed? Well for an extra fee your web host will do it. The ONLY market that I could ever see still staying alive is backend development (PHP, Ruby on Rails, etc.) and that's of course if no one figures out how to make that a service too.
    .
    When I first started out I checked out competitors to see what people were offering, charging and how they had things set up. None of those people are around anymore. Can't find their sites anywhere.

    Backend development will still be viable, but that's not small businesses. Freelancers doing that also get priced out by overseas freelancers who will work cheaper.

    If you ever go on some of the freelance boards or like the WordPress jobs board, it's laughable. People are asking for things that are simple, yet want you to have a ton of degrees and certifications and their budget is $50. Why would anyone with all of the degrees they're asking for work for $50? and why do I need a BA in Computer Science to troubleshoot a plug in or make CSS changes?

    Or they want the world, full stack, for a few hundred. Then there's the people looking for volunteers and interns to run their entire web project. Supposedly those are great opportunities for struggling freelancers looking to build a portfolio

    It's crazy out there. Sometimes I feel like Rodney Dangerfield.
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  2. #22
    Discount Prodigy Array Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    When I first started out I checked out competitors to see what people were offering, charging and how they had things set up. None of those people are around anymore. Can't find their sites anywhere.

    Backend development will still be viable, but that's not small businesses. Freelancers doing that also get priced out by overseas freelancers who will work cheaper.

    If you ever go on some of the freelance boards or like the WordPress jobs board, it's laughable. People are asking for things that are simple, yet want you to have a ton of degrees and certifications and their budget is $50. Why would anyone with all of the degrees they're asking for work for $50?

    Or they want the world, full stack, for a few hundred. Then there's the people looking for volunteers and interns to run their entire web project. Supposedly those are great opportunities for struggling freelancers looking to build a portfolio.

    It's crazy out there.
    it's get rich for as little as possible. The only reason people still do it is because it works. People overseas will do that type of work for almost nothing. My project would easily cost $30k if I went American.

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    root Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen View Post
    My project would easily cost $30k if I went American.
    That's why I'm just buckling down and learning on my own. I JUST lost a job because one of the partners quit, and the other guy didn't know how to code so the entire thing was dead immediately. They were in the middle of an ad campaign and everything. I was supposed to help stop the bleeding and correct the ad mistakes. Then just like that I get a call that the only guy who could code quit. Full stop.

    Just reaffirmed my stance against partners. Finding a good fit for a partnership is rare, and I'm sure good ones exist. It's easier for me to be involved in a partnership for a side project or joint development, than it would be to be in a partnership for my main source of income. For my main thing I want/need to be completely in control up to the point I have at least a proof of concept built, and everything protected.

    Being dependent on someone else being the only person who knows the core of the tech side of the business scares the bejeezus out of me and I don't think I could do it.

    Even if I had the money to get it built, how would I manage it? How would I keep it updated? How would I be able to put out fires on the fly?
    I just can't be in that position and have things go south if my developer becomes undependable and now I'm out my only $30k and can't hire someone else.

    Understanding that myself, I've always been adamant that my clients learn something from me. So that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow they wouldn't be completely lost. They at least knew enough to keep the basics going until they could find someone else, and know what to look for when doing so.
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    Discount Prodigy Array Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    That's why I'm just buckling down and learning on my own. I JUST lost a job because one of the partners quit, and the other guy didn't know how to code so the entire thing was dead immediately. They were in the middle of an ad campaign and everything. I was supposed to help stop the bleeding and correct the ad mistakes. Then just like that I get a call that the only guy who could code quit. Full stop.

    Just reaffirmed my stance against partners, and being dependent on someone else being the only person who knows the core of the tech side of the business.

    Even if I had the money to get it built, how would I manage it? How would I keep it updated? How would I be able to put out fires on the fly?
    I just can't be in that position and have things go south if my developer becomes undependable and now I'm out my only $30k and can't hire someone else.

    Understanding that myself, I've always been adamant that my clients learn something from me. So that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow they wouldn't be completely lost. They at least knew enough to keep the basics going until they could find someone else, and know what to look for when doing so.
    For what I'm doing it would take too long to learn. I'm scared that if I wait and learn that it will already become a thing.

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Brian Altenhofel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    Freelancers doing that also get priced out by overseas freelancers who will work cheaper.
    That's why several of my clients are just for consulting and some for code review. I'll meet with their stakeholders and translate their business-speak into a specification for the programmers to follow. They're welcome to hire me to write the code, too, but often they'll find someone who charges 1/4 my rate or ship it overseas (if it's not barred by regulations). Some of those who have me build a specification will then retain me for code review to ensure that it is being done right before it gets deployed to production.

    What most learn about going overseas is that it costs pretty close to the same as keeping it here (especially when hiring someone from the flyover states) when all of the overhead (management, language and cultural barriers, etc) are factored in.
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    What most learn about going overseas is that it costs pretty close to the same as keeping it here (especially when hiring someone from the flyover states) when all of the overhead (management, language and cultural barriers, etc) are factored in.
    That's been one of my value propositions for the past 15 years: that overseas development will end up costing the client more than it will keeping it with my team.

    The real-life example I use: I was managing an overseas project for a client. The spec was pretty clean, but we came to a spot in the spec where the developers decided they needed an answer to a question: Do A or do B, basically. They sent me this question at 8 pm my time, I was gone for the evening, got it in the morning at 9 am. So 11 hours went by with NO activity on the project. I chose A. They said "That will cost $3000 more." I said, ok, then let's do B. "That will cost $4000 more." WAIT! Shouldn't ONE of the options have been included in their original quote? How is it that it wasn't?? By the time we negotiated the next step, no activity for 72 hours. They wouldn't even go around the question and work on something else.

    I landed a client last year who had been working with a local guy who had a "team" in India. That guy charged my client over $100K and then abandoned the project without completing it. He really had no idea how to do it and had gone down a blind alley with Microsoft Office running on a server (which has been a known "no-no!" since 2001). So we took it over, took a look at his code and I estimate that about $25K of my time would have created the same code.

    But clients will still compare their low per-hour charge to my high per-hour charge and think they're getting a deal.

    I have a friend who is having an overseas team create a web-based application site, matching IOS app, and matching Android app. The quote was for $70K. I told him he should expect to spend at least $125K for all the features he wanted and I'll be shocked if they don't try to renegotiate about halfway through. Their project timelines and deliverables were so vague as to be unmanageable, so I got him to get them to focus on cleaning that up. Still waiting to see if that ever happened.
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    root Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen View Post
    For what I'm doing it would take too long to learn. I'm scared that if I wait and learn that it will already become a thing.
    I used to think like that, but the more time I waste NOT learning, and waiting to miraculously "Find" the money, the more those odds increase.
    Besides, it's probable that more than one person can come up with the same general idea. Happens all of the time. But the odds of it being the exact same thing, and them executing it the same way are really, really slim.

    As you've heard here over and over, execution is everything. So what if someone else comes up with something similar?
    Doesn't mean yours, doing it your way still won't work.
    Doesn't mean they'll be any good at marketing it.
    Doesn't mean that your specific spin on it won't be a better idea.
    Maybe they do and you learn or get a better idea of how to fine tune it in a way that they failed.
    Maybe you let them test the market, see if it's viable, and then come out with a better version.

    Don't let that cripple you. The sooner you get started, the less time you're sitting around worrying about someone else doing it.
    You can find all kinds of reasons to talk yourself out of it, but instead of asking yourself "What if they do?", you should be asking "What if no one does?", and now a year later your still no closer to it than before because you talked yourself out of it because it would take a long time. Do you know how much you can learn in 6 weeks? 6 months? A year?

    Especially now, for you. Living at home, no crushing bills, nothing but time. You'll never have this kind of time, and lack of responsibility ever again. Use it.
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    root Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Altenhofel View Post
    That's why several of my clients are just for consulting and some for code review. .
    I've kind of pivoted to kind of the same strategy. I never bid on projects because I'll never be the lowest bid and price shoppers usually are looking to gather all the best ideas, and then will give them to the lowest bidder to complete. Consulting has been a better business model because you can't fake or mass produce knowledge. Especially when it comes to marketing.

    Many times I'll do a prelim consulting call, give a few ideas out, and check back and watch people try to implement them themselves. It's laughable because they end up just making things worse. Or people will call me back with, "Hey, we're still investigating options, but what was that thing you said about how to...".

    People can be very crafty. Hence why deposits and up front payments are pretty standard these days.
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    Hi Harold,

    I think the majority of small businesses don't value web design at all. This is regardless of the fact that a well designed, well optimized site can significantly increase their revenue and significantly increase their profits. I used to own a small web design business however scaled it back significantly last year because the lack of understanding from small businesses and the competition from Asia made it really quite unprofitable to run. I now focus on my own web businesses and am applying all of the skills that I learned during those web design years to grow those businesses.

    I still think that there is money to be made in the Web space however I think it is more in the SEO (decent SEO that is) and conversion rate optimization space. If people can clearly see a direct relationship between the money being spent and increased profits then they are likely to commit. This however is probably more in the medium sized business market than the small business market as the medium sized guys are usually more willing to spend a bit of cash.
    Neil

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    I think the majority of small businesses don't value web design at all. This is regardless of the fact that a well designed, well optimized site can significantly increase their revenue and significantly increase their profits.
    This is what I'm talking about. I think small businesses do value web design appropriately, it's the people doing web design who are inflating their worth to a small business by claiming that it'll significantly increase revenue and profits. When you do that, you'd better be able to back it up with actual numbers and explain why your web design is going to somehow be 50x - 100x better than a well-designed $50 template. That's a tough sell to anyone on a tight budget.

    Added: it's NOT up to the business to figure out your value. It's up to you to do a good job of demonstrating your value. And web designers used to be able to do that, but -- like many professions -- lately that value proposition isn't as certain as it used to be.
    Last edited by Freelancier; 09-04-2016 at 04:25 PM.
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