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I've been noticing a lot of ads for website "designers" (like on Craigslist) who mainly do the front-end type of work and use CMS systems like Wordpress and Joomla for light website work. I'm a "real programmer", for lack of a better way to put it, not that I'm bragging but I mean that I spend all of my time working with code on custom web apps, etc and don't do graphic design, but I find it somewhat difficult to be as entrepreneurial as I would like to take on freelance projects from time to time but the clients are often concerned with the design.

I'm wondering if any programmers have had success partnering with designers to agree to take on projects that go outside of their scope as far as developing more custom apps than they would be able to with their CMS systems, etc. I can already see a lot of potential pitfalls in this but I think it could be a good way to be more in business for myself. I would appreciate anyone's input on this who has experience with this.

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"Web Designers" are technical artists. You are a programmer interested in how the site peforms while they are interested in how it looks and interacts with the user. I suggest looking at their portfolios. Do you like how they make sites look? Do they have a style that fits what you are looking for? If they don't have one. It may be a sign they aren't very seasoned. Also, many web designers have little knowledge of the time that is required in programming. I have found them very flakey and they often concieve of things well beyond what can be delivered because it isn't them who have to make the stuff work. However, you should pay some attention to what they say as they are closest to your target audience and the manner in which people percieve your site carries a lot of weight.

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Good answer, I basically feel that partnering with them is the only way to get into some possible markets as I can't stand getting a bunch of lowball offers for my services (such as when I advertise that I can "build websites" and get people wanting a site for $150). I think it would be better if I had a designer partner who did all the cookie cutter stuff that came their way but then if, through the course of their interaction with the "masses" had a client that needed a larger scale app then they could cut me in on the deal –  programmx10 Dec 18 '10 at 6:44
    
continuing my thought above, I mean mainly that when I look for contract work now I'm very quick to dismiss people that contact me if they so much as mention words like "wordpress, joomla" etc in their initial communication with me as I want clients that are looking to get real tech work done but then again some of these people are just uninformed and, through the right process, could come to realize the value in spending more on some custom development services –  programmx10 Dec 18 '10 at 6:46
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When you develop websites, most customers want those to look good. Many of them want more than their logo on to be happy. Most programmers are crappy designers, so yes, then you should partner with a designer whose work you like and whom you can communicate with. It's not harder or different that cooperating with any other non-programmer.

And don't stop there. If you are designing a UI from scratch, find a usability expert early in the project to help you make the web application user-friendly. That's also something programmers are bad at.

It's also not a bad idea to find a technical write to write the documentation, if you have that. Not all customers care about getting manuals.

In short: Let the experts be experts in their fields, and you can concentrate on programming. The end result gets better that way.

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Yeah, all those roles are good to have for a large project or within a company but for smaller projects I think the work needs to be divided between less people, a programmer should be able to write technical documentation, at least to some extent –  programmx10 Dec 18 '10 at 18:09
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