Let’s start with some definitions:
Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardized code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization.
Web development is a broad term for the work involved in developing a web site for the Internet (World Wide Web) or an intranet (a private network). Web development can range from developing the simplest static single page of plain text to the most complex web-based internet applications, electronic businesses, and social network services. A more comprehensive list of tasks to which web development commonly refers, may include web design, web content development, client liaison, client-side/server-side scripting, web server and network security configuration, and e-commerce development. Among web professionals, “web development” usually refers to the main non-design aspects of building web sites: writing markup and coding.
A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
What does all this mean? In layman’s terms, basically the website developer builds the house, the website designer decorates the interior of the house and the virtual assistant creates the open house party. Now if your foundation cracks, typically you would not call the person who created your open house party, you would call the person who built the house.
What I see happening in the market place is that in a rush to make some money, folks are advertising that they are some sort of web/virtual guru who have no business even attempting much less getting paid high dollars until they have some training, certification, degree, sizable portfolio or massive experience. But they’ll only charge me $2.00 per hour! That’s great! How do you know they’ll finish the job? On time? With quality workmanship? It seems the entrepreneur is now learning exactly what the Fortune 500 companies had to learn and that is that not everyone has a great work ethic, experience and commitment and it doesn’t matter how much you saved on the job if those ingredients are not included because what you’re really losing is the time that you could’ve been pursuing income generating opportunities. You’ll never recover that time.
Technically what I see happening as a result of the blur between these terms is half built websites, websites that look like a 13-year old built them, hacked websites due to non-existent security, angry entrepreneurs who are dazzled by the buzz words but don’t really know what they want beyond they want a professional looking website that brings them money every month.
To help bring clarity to the intimidating task of hiring your technical team, here are 7 basic questions that you can start with to get you closer to what you really want:
1. How long have you been doing web design, web development, virtual assistance? 2-3 years is a good starting point
2. Do you offer a guarantee? If they won’t even guarantee that they will honor their word and deliver what is promised, RUN AWAY!
3. May I have a link to your online portfolio? Even someone who is just starting out will have done some practice work and will have digital portfolio.
4. May I see your testimonials? If they haven’t started collecting testimonials, ask for references who can speak about their quality of work.
5. Do you maintain the solutions that you build? If they’re not willing to maintain the solutions they build, again RUN AWAY!
6. Do you have any degrees or certifications? Degrees and certifications tell you that this individual has spent some time, money and effort to advance their knowledge. Yes, there are some who choose to teach themselves and that’s where the portfolio comes into play.
7. Who are you currently being professionally coached by? A true professional is always learning new techniques, expanding their pool of knowledge!
When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, don’t be afraid to work with a true professional who has experience and produces quality work. If that little voice in your head says, “But you can’t afford it!” acknowledge the little voice by saying “Thank you for sharing” and ask the professional how you can work together to make this more affordable for you. You may need to sell some of your products and services before you can contract the professional or perhaps they have a payment plan that you can take advantage of that is not advertised up front.