At the very first stages of starting a web design agency, it might seem like a rather good idea to try and handle most – if not all – of the work on your own or with the help of just a small team. The logic behind such an attitude is simple: the more you manage to do on your own, the more earnings you get to keep.
However, this approach has a downside often overlooked by industry newbies: if you handle most of the work individually, the chances are high that you will spend almost all of your time just doing the work. Unavoidably this will lead to sleepless nights, gallons of energy drinks, and countless pizza deliveries. Not scared yet? Well, then, prepare for red eyes, exhaustion and a bloated stomach. That’s not exactly what you imagined when you decided to start a company, now is it?
Also, you probably won’t make nearly as much money, since if you’re deeply involved with coding and are dealing with customers, you cannot dedicate as much attention and strength to creating new design concepts. And before you know it, you like others committed to doing it all themselves are burnt out and broke. Just take a look at some of the top web design agencies – none of them are run by a single person. All of the reputable web design companies have teams and departments that handle their particular tasks in their respective domains.
Luckily, you don’t have to walk the lone wolf path, because if you’re able to see the good of team-building, appointment, and the shared success of collective work, then your chances of building a prosperous company are already rather high. The only thing you have to take care of at this point is finding the right people to join your team and then make it all work properly.
You Need People with Skills for Your Team
If you’ve ever seen a great web design project that felt coherent and well-constructed, in almost every case the team that worked on it has had either most or all of the following specialists:
- Salesperson that helped generate new customers for the web design firm;
- Project architect that developed the general idea of the site (not the design itself);
- Project manager that managed the project and made sure that everything is clear
- Website designer (one or more) that designed the site’s appearance and functionality;
- Front-end developer that created the site’s interface components and implemented them;
- Back-end developer that developed the framework for the website’s interface;
- A tester that did everything possible to try and break the site until there was no longer anything to break.
Along with the core specialists mentioned above, companies also occasionally need experts such as:
- UI specialist that cooperates with front-end developers to develop greater user interfaces;
- UX specialist that conducts extensive research of website’s human factors to secure fantastic user experience;
- SEO specialist that defines – and implements, if needed – a search engine optimization strategy;
- Graphic designer that creates unique graphics;
- A copywriter that creates high-end textual content.
Let’s be clear here: just because you’re assembling a team, it doesn’t mean no one can handle multiple tasks. Therefore, your team doesn’t need to be that big. Moreover, having a team that is too large has downsides.
In general, the more important and bigger your project, the more specialized your staff needs to be. Less important and smaller projects allow employees the flexibility to handle several roles at once in the process.
Logically, the very first step is to define your role in your web design team. At this point, since you’re the boss, you might think that you should automatically assume the roles of project manager and project architect because these roles imply leadership.
But you should hold on and think for a moment. Is this really what you do best? In case you see yourself as more of an illustrator or a coder, it might be better to pass the management functions on to a member with more expertise or qualification in these particular roles. This way, you can accept responsibility for your immediate area of expertise, where you can confidently produce excellent results.
And this is where the fun part – and the most difficult part yet – begins. It is when you choose your teammates. The first thing you should know about this process is that it is normally better to keep a constant core staff that carries out the same functions in every project. When needed, you may consider temporarily hiring some extra freelancers to handle some particular project tasks.
If you find yourself building new teams for each web design project, time and money will be wasted and disappointing results are inevitable. It may even cost you customers and reputation. Therefore, find employees that you trust and enjoy working with. Assemble a permanent team with them.
Getting a Hold of Good Team Members
The error often made by companies, when they hire personnel, is that they create skill lists that are too limiting and complex. At times, HR managers don’t even understand a particular function. For instance, here’s an average list of skills that a newly hired front-end developer has:
- At least three years of experience in PHP development;
- At least three years of experience in SQL/MySQL;
- Proficiency in WordPress, customized themes, plugins, widgets, HTML, CSS, JS, JQuery;
- Basic understanding of Unix CLI;
- Experience working with GIT;
- Unit testing and QA experience;
- Strong knowledge of Unix Administration;
- Solid UI design knowledge;
- Experience with Agile Scrum methodology;
- Solid documentation skills;
- Experience in SEO, social media marketing, and email marketing.
If you don’t see any issues in the list above, then perhaps you are the part of the issue. Very few of the skills listed have something to do with front-end development. Most of them are related to administration, back-end development, and marketing. There’s no sense in requiring these skills for a front-end developer. If this is what your skills list looks like, you may scare off some valuable and capable candidates.
Also, the requirement for agile methodology experience is absurd, too. Agile development is just effective in software development with large projects that require months of high-level investment of time and money. Websites are different, and applying agile methods is simply a waste of money in most web design environments because you will have to employ additional coders that you don’t need.
A better skill list for a front-end developer would look like this:
- CSS knowledge;
- Ability to think on the go.
Grow Your Company and the Team at a Feasible Pace
Most small web design agencies must be able to fill all the critical central roles with up to 4 employees, and sometimes hire freelancers, if needed. As your business grows, you should begin to consider limiting the tasks that each employee has to handle and broaden the team.
You shouldn’t focus on corporate hierarchy and culture. If you focus on corporate culture instead, it may lead to the stagnation and collapse of your company. The thing is that a hierarchical structure creates competition within your team, which is never good for business in the long run.
It would help if you focused on creating a trusting and friendly environment where everyone feels they are making an impact on the company’s success. This ensures high productivity levels and quick turnarounds (depending on the project, of course). A close-knit web design team will help you outpace your competitors and establish your brand as a force to reckon with on the market.