I’ve been designing web sites for almost a decade. I love web design. I stay up late designing web sites. I thrive on learning cool new techniques and get a rush every time I update a page’s source code and click refresh.
It’s an addiction. (Maybe you’re addicted too?)
So, strictly from a passion perspective, I would never outsource the coding of a web site.
Plus, I’ve written about outsourcing design services here at the blog before.
Frankly, there were a lot of people really frustrated that I would even recommend outsourcing anything in your design company.
So when Rick from HTML Guys reached out to me asking if I would use and review their services here at Design Blender, I was hesitant.
I mean come on! I’m a web designer.
What kind of web designer doesn’t actually code up his own web sites, right?
Wouldn’t letting someone else code my web design throw me into some existential crisis? Or at a minimum it surely wouldn’t be as good as the work I would have done myself.
But I decided to give it a shot. Why? Because many of you have written in asking how you can take the next step from graphic design to web design.
And I actually think this is a great way to bridge that gap.
But don’t let me make the call for you. Should you outsource your HTML?
Here’s what happened to me.
You decide for yourself.
(PS: if you think this post could help other designers, please do me a favor and tweet about it.)
I’m web designer. I outsourced my PSD to HTML. Here’s what I learned.
Before I can relate the full story to you, I need to give you a little background.
Years ago, when I was just getting my business going, I started a company (a brand, really) called Mighty Media.
My URL was something long and hard to remember. My designs (in retrospect) were probably not that good and I eventually ditched the brand and started just freelancing under my own name.
But about a year ago, I decided I was ready to grow beyond myself (hire more people, get more done, build a bigger business) and realized I wanted to revive my old web design brand.
This time, I would pair it with web marketing (something I’ve excelled at over the last half-decade) and offer web design consultancy.
Through Mighty Media Co., customers could receive spectacular web design services or, more commonly, be advised on what design changes their site needed in order to be more successful.
I mapped out a small business plan and got started.
It was about that time that Rick from HTML Guys contacted me asking if I would review their services on this blog.
I almost never review services or products here at Design Blender because I just don’t think that’s what the site is about.
But when Rick’s email was surrounded in my inbox with emails from readers with questions like “how do I start transitioning from graphics to web design?” or “what do I do if my client wants web design services and I’m not that good at HTML?” it seemed like I great opportunity to help out a bunch of people who felt stuck.
Maybe you’re there.
Maybe you feel stuck due to your lack of HTML/CSS/PHP/etc. knowledge.
Or maybe you’re like me and you’re ready to grow beyond yourself, but can’t seem to find enough hours in the day.
Either way, I think what happened next in my story may help you.
So here’s what I proposed to the HTML Guys:
I’ll review your service if you let me submit a one-page sales page PSD which you then code for free. I will be honest about the quality of service and won’t sugar-coat anything in my post.
“There’s no way this is going to turn out like I want it to,” I thought to myself.
And I mocked up a page in 24 hours and sent it in.
It looked something like this.
You should know that, in order to be able to write about the experience in the most genuine way possible, I asked them to give me the full experience as if I was a paying customer.
So they did.
Before they ever started work on my design, they sent me a bid. They let me know how much standard pricing was for a one-page design and then added in each line item individually for customization work (parallax background, sticky header, responsive design, etc.).
The bid was pretty reasonable as you can see below (I can’t promise a price-match, but this is what mine came in at):
HTML Templates: $264.00
Sticky Header: $25.00
Responsive Layout: $205.00
Estimated Delivery Time: 2 – 3 days
Three days and about $500 bucks?
It was a done deal.
They then spent the next few days working on my site. Less-than three days later (as promised), I got a link to a testing site where I was able to view the first draft of my landing page.
It was amazing. Seriously.
If I had to grade it, I would have given it a 90%…and I’m a picky son of a gun.
Aside from a few small tweaks, it was done. And I was impressed.
As someone who has worked on both sides of the designer/client relationship, I was quite hesitant about requesting revisions. Sometimes, it’s easier to just do it yourself than to ask your designer to make the changes you feel like you need. And, as a designer, I understand why of course.
But, I wanted to see if these guys were really as great as they were claiming to be, so I asked for a few key revisions to be made.
Less than 24 hours later, they got back to me with all the changes made and a wonderfully polished and top-of-the-line landing page for my new business.
The final product
Once I approved and was pleased with their work, they sent me a .zip file with all of the files I needed in order to install my site on my server.
You can view the test version (contact form not working yet) here.
I think they did a pretty great job with it.
(The only thing I would have liked to see that I didn’t has to do with the contact form. Now, I can program my own contact form, so it’s no big deal, but I imagine if a non-coder were to send in their PSD and ask for HTML in return, they would expect to see a working contact form.
I know, I know, contact forms require PHP and this an HTML job. I get it.
But they already used PHP to generate my captcha, so why not just finish it out and get my contact form working?
A little calculating. Still a good business decision?
Okay, so they could code a web site.
But was this still a good business decision?
Here’s how it broke down for me:
About 3 hours total design time = cost of ~$240-$360
PSD to HTML cost = $494
Since I could turn this one-page design into a multiple-page website with probably less than one more hour of work on my own dime, I’ll add that in as well.
Adaptation to multi-page site (1hr) = cost of ~$80-$120
Total project cost = $974 (max)
Once I add in the extra pages, I could probably sell a site like this one for anywhere from $1,500-$3,200. Leaving me a maximum profit (in a perfect world with no hiccups) of:
Best-case scenario project net profit = $2,226
Bad scenario project net profit = $526
Divide each by the estimated 6 hours of total work this project required (including revision time and other odds and ends) and you get:
Best-case scenario hourly rate = $371/hr
Bad scenario hourly rate = $87/hr
Since my usual going rate fluctuates between $80 and $120 USD, in either scenario, I’ve come out ahead.
Plus, if you add in the extra time I had while the HTML Guys were working on my site (probably another 5-7 hours of coding, testing, etc.), I come out way on top.
In my mind, this was a good business decision. (In fact, to be completely honest, I’ve already since used HTML Guys on a project that I hired them and paid them for. So I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I think it’s worth the investment.)
I can’t tell you what will be best for your business in the long-run.
But this particular venture was a success. My verdict? In certain cases, it’s worth outsourcing the HTML of your site design to someone like HTML Guys.
It’s not necessarily always the best route but sometimes it pays off. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.
Here are a scenarios you might want to go with someone like HTML Guys for your next web design project:
5 Good reasons to outsource your HTML
1. You’re new to web design.
If you’re not sure what you’re doing in the world of web design it could be good to rely on outsourcing to bring a level of quality to your work that you just can’t bring yet. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to start a business.
2. You’re trying to grow without hiring.
If you’re overbooked and short on time, but want to keep growing your design business, outsourcing could be a good first step. Use a service like HTML Guys to test the waters and see if you can handle more clients, more projects and a little more stress.
3. You’re real passion is strictly in the visual.
If you stay up late at night designing the PSD document (or whatever you design in) and then dread the moment when you have to convert it to HTML, why stress? It’s your business. Do the stuff you love and outsource the rest.
4. Your project is for a sales page, event page, or short-term need.
If you’re designing a web site for a large company, it’s worth spending lots of time on making it perfect. But if your project is for a short-term goal (think sales page, event page, promotion page, etc.) it may be worth getting it done quickly. In that case, outsourcing may be a good idea.
5. You simply can’t do it.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re in over your head on a project. But before you just throw in the towel on a web design project and tell your client to take their business elsewhere, give this option a shot. You may come out surprised.
PS: Since I enjoyed my experience in working with the HTML Guys so much, I negotiated a deal with them exclusively for Design Blender readers.
If you’re interested in trying out their services, they’re willing to wave the downpayment on your first project. This means, if you’re waiting to get paid from your client before you can pay the folks you outsource to, this is a great option. Just enter promo code GDBZERO during your bid request and you’ll get your down payment waved entirely. You don’t pay a penny until the job is finished to your satisfaction.
I’m not getting any money back for this promotion. I just wanted to help you out if I could. I hope it does some good for someone out there.
Any last words?
Ok, that subheadline makes it sound like I’m about to best you in a jousting duel or something. But really, I’m just bringing this post to a close. I hope it was helpful. Do you have anything to add? Should you outsource your HTML as a web designer? Why or why not? Share in the comments.