What clients want: New survey data from GoDaddy shows how web designers & developers get hired 

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Marketing for web designers and developers can feel like dropping coins down a well — as your monies tumble into the ether, you wonder if your efforts reach anyone. Wouldn’t it be great to know what clients want?

We thought so, too.

We tracked down 18 small-business owners who in the last 12 months hired a web designer or developer to work on their site. During in-depth, hourlong interviews, we covered a range of topics related to getting help from a pro, including:

  • What triggered their search for help
  • Choosing one provider over another
  • The best characteristics in a pro

We hope our findings help with your marketing efforts.

What triggered their search for help

Effective marketing should likely address the dilemma created when someone must split their time between DIY web design and running a business. With that in mind, it never hurts to showcase abilities that make you a single source for multiple services.

Of the clients we interviewed, 76% started looking for professional help to increase their web presence, either to create a new website or improve what they already had. They placed a premium on service providers who also possessed rebranding, SEO and marketing skills.

It would take me quite a bit of time to get the business put together, and then I would’ve had to also build a website. We decided, okay, it makes more sense to just hire someone.

— V.S., 33, fashion sales

While some clients indicated they had the skills to handle website-related work, they inevitably became frustrated by constraints — with the time required, the limits of their own skills, or both. Of these clients, 88% had already build a website themselves and 76% indicated limited time or skills made the project a no-go.

Throughout these interviews, we discovered the most common triggers for seeking help:

  • Inability to realize their vision for the site due to lack of skills
  • Need to focus on their business, rather than building a website
  • Noticing the success of other SMBs after website redesigns
  • Recognition that the current web design doesn’t accurately reflect their business
  • Business needs for related services (e.g. marketing, SEO)

Choosing one provider over another

Perhaps unsurprisingly, proven expertise is the main consideration during the hunt for a service provider. Reviews and a portfolio were top priorities for 71% of clients we interviewed. Discounts or low pricing, while important to clients, weren’t a deciding factor for anyone interviewed.

“I wouldn’t even start the conversation if they didn’t have a good resume.”

— B.G., 35, hospitality

The clients we interviewed also placed a high value trust, with a significant majority preferring to hire a personal acquaintance — even one without a portfolio of work samples — over another relying only on a portfolio. They also noted that not every review needed to have five stars.

In fact, service providers with that personal relationship were 2.5 times more likely to get hired over someone recommended through an online platform. Here are more key insights from the data:

  • 59% — Would choose a personal acquaintance over anyone else, with or without a portfolio
  • 24% — Would choose a service provider backed by online recommendations and a portfolio
  • 0% — Would choose a service provider without online recommendations or a portfolio

The best characteristics in a pro

When we asked clients what contributed to giving service providers a five-star review, all the factors previously explored contributed a perfect score. It seems that while trust is crucial in hiring a service provider, vision and value also weigh heavily in evaluations.

“It was worth the money, because what they were doing would significantly increase our workflows and our efficiencies.”

— B.G., 35, hospitality

In your own interactions with clients and leads, it’s important to explore how clients define those factors — we found it wasn’t always black and white. For example, we might define value as a lower payment delivered for services rendered. However, a recurring theme we uncovered was that, to clients, value meant the ability to retain focus on their businesses.

Closing thoughts on what clients want

It appears expectations are high when clients seek a five-star service provider. It’s what drives us to continue improving every aspect of GoDaddy Pro, empowering web designers and developers to efficiently deliver better results for their clients.

This program is free to join and includes a number of benefits, such as a discount on all GoDaddy products and services, as well as access to The Hub. This platform is optimized not only for managing clients’ websites, but other key aspects of running a business.

On average, our members report saving three hours each month for every client website they manage with The Hub. This is a competitive business we’re in. Couldn’t you use that kind of advantage?

Art Martori thinks words are like chess pieces. While checkers might be more appropriate for the analogy, he’s aided by years of professional writing experience via mediums including content strategy, journalism and fiction. When he’s not typing on a keyboard, find Art strumming the 12-bar blues.