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Author Topic: Outsourcing web design  (Read 5123 times)

Ampa

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Outsourcing web design
« on: April 28, 2007, 04:55:26 PM »
I have recently moved from my job in education, back to a spot of graphic / web design (sadly you can't make a living in education in the UK).

Whilst brushing up on some of the latest HTML / CSS techniques I have noticed a new type of advert appearing on the web...

A number of companies are now offering to take your site design as a flat file (psd, png, ai - they don't seem to fussed on the format), and return it to you as a working template. Not only that - it will also be xhtml and CSS compliant, cross browser compatible, and their turn around is, in some cases, less that 8 hours. AND it is 'dirt cheap'!

I have sought out, and read, a number of reviews, all of which extol the virtues of the services, showering praise on the companies for great results, excellent communication, and lightning speed.

So here are the questions...

1. Why on earth would I code my own design if I can truly outsource it so cheaply?
2. How can an independent designer, like me, compete with a machine like this?
3. Is this the way the design industry is set to go, with designers who design, and coders who code?
4. Has anyone at DC tried one of these services? How did it go?

A few example companies... psd2html | xHTMLslicer | xhtmlized

Dirhael

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2007, 05:40:51 PM »
I haven't tried it, but I look upon it like I do with food. Yes, you can get your food dirt cheap and fast in your local supermarket or fast-food chain. While this is enough most of the time, sometimes you'd love nothing more than a exquisite meal perpared by a really good chef. A meal where everything just fits together perfectly, leaving a lasting impression :)
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

justice

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2007, 06:55:33 PM »
You can compete because people don't just want a working template. Also if they do they will always think of things to add / change afterwards or in the mean-time and then have noone that can do it for them.

Getting the template is the easy part, getting done what the client wants is the hard part, doing better then the needs of the client is why you're doing the job and not the machine.

Instead of wasting $989 on a sliced template for 13 pages, they better go to http://www.wordpress.com and sign up in 5 minutes for free.

Or buy any suit in Walmart /ASDA instead of going to a tailor with needs and a goal. ;)
« Last Edit: April 28, 2007, 06:57:48 PM by justice »

2stepsback

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2007, 03:30:35 PM »
I have sought out, and read, a number of reviews, all of which extol the virtues of the services, showering praise on the companies for great results, excellent communication, and lightning speed.
Unbiased reviews at third party websites?
Quote
1. Why on earth would I code my own design if I can truly outsource it so cheaply?
Because most customers who pay in USD and GBP will want to get exactly what they want, and not a general template.
Images, graphics, flash, stuff.
Quote
2. How can an independent designer, like me, compete with a machine like this?
As above. Plus the all-important S-word: support
Quote
3. Is this the way the design industry is set to go, with designers who design, and coders who code?
Partly. Not across geographies. Not global, even if you *want* to get panicky about the fact that it is a *web* based service.
Quote
4. Has anyone at DC tried one of these services? How did it go?
Webdeveloper myself. (Not into this automated thing) So I haven't. But they can easily do a good job.
BUT, I'm not the least bit worried, because I know a huuuuuuuuuuuuge market here that does not know of those sites out there. They are not computer savvy (Where's that letter-printing thing?) and they have a lot of money (Not that I charge looking at their pockets - I charge looking at my watch) and they need a human throat to catch when they feel stuck. And they like the idea of having a website for themselves. So, relax.

IIRC, ESR has gone on record saying that due to FOSS, software will change from the product+license model to the (free product)+(paid services) model eventually.
YMMV. But surely thereabouts.

Meanwhile, it would also be very useful if you keep upgrading your skillset in diverse stuff like adding more *channels* to your website - more value than just (X)HTML, CSS - mainly:
1. AJAX,
2. Flash, now Flex,
3. VOIP (yes, VOIP - place an order now! using not your phone, but *this website* ) - type - who wants to type, I'll rather *speak*.
4. Have my favourite items emailed to me in a nice printable list format.
5. Email me this and that - newsletters, offers, etc.
6. Social bookmark this site
7. Mobile access, SMS, VoiceMail

These + above = much better value than machines.

HTH
2stepsback
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app103

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2007, 07:52:34 PM »
A number of companies are now offering to take your site design as a flat file (psd, png, ai - they don't seem to fussed on the format), and return it to you as a working template. Not only that - it will also be xhtml and CSS compliant, cross browser compatible, and their turn around is, in some cases, less that 8 hours. AND it is 'dirt cheap'!


1. Why on earth would I code my own design if I can truly outsource it so cheaply?
2. How can an independent designer, like me, compete with a machine like this?
3. Is this the way the design industry is set to go, with designers who design, and coders who code?

The majority of people in this world have no artistic talent...and no design talent...and can't even make the psd, png, etc they would need to start with.

Not only that, but even with a template, many have no clue how to add their own content to it or maintain it....or even how to upload it.

That's what makes you valuable. ;)

If getting a template cheap & easy was going to put you out of business, it would have been done already. There are plenty of sites you can go to and get a free ready made template to use right now. But that hasn't put the web designer out of business. Ask yourself 'why?'.  :D

nudone

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2007, 01:45:53 AM »
ampa's original question of "Why on earth would I code my own design if I can truly outsource it so cheaply?" appears to be being ignored.

it's not about the threat of losing business to these online conversion services. it's more a question of what is the quality of the product they return, i.e. why waste your own valuable time creating the page when someone will do a perfect job and for less than you would charge yourself. the key word being to "outsource".
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 01:54:29 AM by nudone »

Ampa

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2007, 03:58:49 AM »
Although the replies so far are interesting, Nudone is indeed correct: my main point concerns the outsourcing of part of my work as a webdesigner...

I am perfectly capable of coding a website myself, but that is probably not where my real skill lies. I am better at almost all the other roles a one-man web design company has to take on...

  • Salesman
  • Real-world troubleshooter
  • Graphic designer
  • Interface designer
  • Database designer
  • Content editor
  • Mentor and Teacher
  • After-sales support

...all of which are skills that the coding services will lack.

But if an expert in xHTML and CSS can whip up a prototype of my design solution, in less time than it would take me to do the same; if the quality of the work is good, and their hourly rate is less than mine, why would I not outsource this part of the process to someone else?

Does it matter that they have no design skill, since the design would be mine?

Does it matter that they are only providing a template, since this is only an early part of the process, designed to save me time and money?

All of this, of course, assumes that they really are an expert at what they do. That the code really is well structured, standards compliant, cross browser compatible. If it is not, then I would spend so much time rewriting it, that the outsourcing becomes pointless.

So to rephrase the question slightly...

Is outsourcing the HTML and CSS coding of one of my designs, a cost effective way for a web designer to prototype a website?

nudone

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2007, 04:13:42 AM »
i've been looking at some of the examples provided by the services above.

many of them look like templates found at 'template' sites. i guess this is just the way things look nowadays. i wonder if it's worth considering going straight for a ready made template, i.e. if the customers are happy with sites that look almost identical to a template even though it is an original design, then why not just give them a template design.

i personally wouldn't go the template way but it seems odd that everyone is aspiring to look exactly like a template layout. i suppose that demonstrates the quality of the templates now available - they are actually a lot better in appearance than many 'original' designs.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 04:16:02 AM by nudone »

butterflyhtml

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 10:31:42 AM »
While this is an old debate, it has become more prominent today, considering that many designers outsource web designs to specialized companies. Finding a reliable long term partner is of key importance here, one who can understand how you want the designs to appear and what kind of features you want. I feel that the question has now started shifting from "whether to outsource" to "how to outsource".

We offer similar service - ButterflyHTML - PSD to HTML Service. Here we are focussed on creating long term relationships with customers. Note that pricing is quite reasonable and we pay a lot of attention on delivering high quality code as per the requirements. 

40hz

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Re: Outsourcing web design
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2009, 12:45:46 AM »
I am perfectly capable of coding a website myself, but that is probably not where my real skill lies.

If that's the case, then maybe it's better to partner with (or hire) somebody whose real skill is in coding rather than trying to be a one-person shop. I don't know how it works in the UK, but where I live, most corporations are extremely skittish about trusting something as important as a web design project to a one-person operation. And that's because most will not risk the exposure of being "single sourced." Nor are such fears groundless. What would happen to their project if you happened to be run over by the proverbial lorry?

The only solo designers (ok, one actually) I know who managed to successfully market herself as a one-person business did so because she had a brilliant portfolio combined with a stellar reputation in the web design industry several years before she went off on her own.

But even with all that going for her, she still 'hedged' her bet. First, she made it a point to part with her employer on extremely friendly terms. That alone netted her a deal of assignments from her former employer, thereby reducing her exposure once she hung out her own sign. Secondly, she banked a significant amount of money prior to leaving her corporate crib. But these are probably discussion points best left for another day.

The real problem with outsourcing is that there is an inevitable loss of control during critical stages in the production cycle. If you're comfortable taking that risk - or you're fortunate enough to have someone you can completely trust to deliver to spec, on schedule, and on budget 100% of the time - then outsource away. Otherwise, weigh the risks. It's your reputation that will take the hit for any failures, cost overruns or delays on the part of your suppliers. My sister (who is a graphic designer) often reminds her staff that a design agency's reputation is based on everything that goes out its doors, regardless of who did the actual work.

Quote
Is outsourcing the HTML and CSS coding of one of my designs, a cost effective way for a web designer to prototype a website?

Yes, but again I'd suggest you do it by partnering with someone with the requisite coding skills rather than project shopping the work on the open market.

Please note there's also a lot more to webpage coding than simple XHTML and CSS. A good web coder will also be handling things like SEO and related e-commerce related technologies that go beyond what's needed for the the visual display of a webpage. Today, if you're seriously thinking of getting into web design for businesses, you'll need a lot more than graphic design skills to be competitive. In many respects, the e-commerce part of the equation is even more important than the website's design or 'internal' technology. What's the point of producing a beautiful and functional website if the world has trouble finding it?

Hope this was of some help.

Best luck in your new endeavor! :Thmbsup: