As a web designer, I have done built quite a lot of sites, and designed many more, yet I still find it more time consuming and difficult to design and build my own web site than any other sites I design and/or build. Which begs the question: should web designers design their own web sites? I can crank out a small Flash site in just a few days if I have all the parts up front, and a clear target to aim for. I recently built a very small flash site, it was a page really, but I built in 3 days. From the preloader to the content. Realizing full well this is far less complicated than an actual content rich web site; I would still think that I could place some of well focused effort into getting my new web site from the dev phases to production in less than 3 months. Yeah, not likely. I have been working on this for the last 3.5 months, changed the portfolio section 3 times, the contact form 2 times and the layout of some of the sections probably 2 times apiece. I know I can't dedicate 24 hours of dev to it in a row, as in 3 full days, but I should be able to crank it out and pretend to be at least moderately decisive. The problem is, as a designer I want to do something cool and creative as a portfolio site, but I also want it to not get in the way of the showcased work, but also be a site worthy of showcasing. I'm just too close to it, which is ultimately what this whole post is about.
On many levels it would make more sense for me to just pay another designer, or reciprocate with another like-minded designer, to get my site designed. This would allow me to not get tied up in all of the aspects of my own site, and have something that could potentially be outside of what I would normally design for myself. On the other hand, what does this say about me? I'm a web designer who didn't design his own web site, I suppose the skeptical mind could start down the road wondering if I designed any of what I claim to have designed, but I really don't think that would be an issue. Simply giving credit to the other designer in the footer would be adequate to dispel that in any likely clients – plus the linkage of having done this for someone else could tend add credibility to both designers and illustrate the willingness to step outside the box. It also would free me up to work on paying projects, since it designing someone else's website would be essentially just another job.
So why do agencies and designers not do this? Ego. When designing your own web site there are many competing desires for the primary goal of the site. The desire to have be award winning, cutting edge, use some new technology, illustrate how super-cool you are; etc…. Again, in most cases, you are just too close to the project. The site should have a clear purpose, and if you are designer or an agency it is really to get more work, and to showcase what you have done in the past. All of those other things are just freeloaders getting in the way of development. Which in many cases can kill the project totally, and then you are left with an outdated web site, and possibly a poorly designed on that you just slapped together to get something up. If it is one thing that a lot of agencies and dev companies are guilty of is the mindset that of something is better than nothing, which is not always true.
Don't wait for me…. I'm too far gone… go on without me! Yeah I know, this could be a do as I say, not as I do sort of thing. The merit here is that it makes sense. If you have enough business, you probably outsource some of it to other developers who are experts in a given field, so why not outsource your portfolio site design to another expert? Your results will most likely be far different than what you would have come up with, and it will most certainly be faster.