What’s the difference between an Agency, & a freelance developer?

And more importantly, how do you know when you need one or the other?

So you’re trying to save costs, but you really don’t want to end up with a budget garage-looking job for your company’s website. But you’ve spoken to a few agencies, and they’re charging upwards of five figures and your toes are curling… what are you going to do?! You’ve tried doing it yourself. The free websites have annoying “powered by Weebly” tags on the footers or the headers, or “Make your own, with Wix!” and that just doesn’t look right. I get it! You’re at the end of your tether, and about to give up and just have a FaceBook page on its own instead.

Well, let me help you out!

How much does a website cost?

Well, how long is a piece of string?

Just kidding! First of all, there are costs that you can’t avoid, regardless of who you get to build your website (or even if you do it yourself). Chances are, you know you need a host. And a domain name. Plus, if you don’t want to be cold-called and sent a tonne of random emails about Russian brides, you may need to pay a bit extra for “domain privacy”. These costs are unavoidable, and range between $200 – 500 per year for the average small-business website. This is the bare-bones cost, with no administration or setup included. That’s just what you need to run the site.

What kind of website do I need to have built?

Agency/Company

  • Team of developers, designer, sales marketers, admins & techies, etc.
  • More technical ability and range.
  • Fully customised websites with unique integration & abilities.
  • Far more expensive.
  • Ongoing costs for maintenance are higher.
  • Professional, usually guaranteed work.

Suitable for:

  • Complex websites requiring unique functions (staff able to communicate separately or order from other stores on a closed network)
  • Large corporate companies who don’t want the hassle of managing in-house web administration and design.

Developer/Freelancer

  • Single person cost.
  • Perhaps less scope but more focused.
  • Less range of customisability.
  • Usually more transparent.
  • Ongoing costs are less and can also be self-managed.
  • Usually works with well-known CMS such as Drupal, WordPress, Shopify.

Suitable for:

  • Small-medium business websites requiring standard info
  • Small-medium online shops
  • Portfolios & related online displays

Finding Suitable Agencies/Freelancers

So, how do you vet either an agency or a freelancer? It’s not always as clear-cut as it seems. First of all, they need to have a portfolio that shows they have worked with similar projects to yours (you can see mine here). This doesn’t always mean it’s technically a “good” website though. Using tools like PingDom and Google PageSpeed Insights can let you see how their website or their clients websites are performing.

Another tool that’s good to use on a website of an agency or freelancer is the seositecheckup website. The website itself might look clean, but a quick SEO check will tell you whether the company or person in question is able to deliver results that Google and other search engines are going to index and rank for you. Organic rankings will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on advertising, so an effective website needs to not only be clean, responsive, but Search Engine Optimised as well.