Working with someone local is best, whether you are the client or the web designer. Even if you can’t find a local web designer that meets your requirements, there are plenty of web designers who work long distance. However, it’s a bigger risk to engage long-distance, so know your options and get references from other long-distance clients working with this web designer.
A local web designer knows the local landscape. If your marketing success is heavily dependent on local details and recognition, you want to work with someone who is familiar with your community and customer base. A local web designer will have a better understanding of your potential clients, local competition, likely marketing venues, and the subtleties of the geographic region (including local terminology). For example, my hometown is included in a group of three cities known collectively as the Tri-City area. Just up the freeway a few miles is a group of three cities known as the Tri-Valley area. Clearly, advertising as one or the other will attract different clients. Anyone who does not live near here would not know about this nomenclature distinction.
A local web designer has the potential to be a great networking tool. A local web designer can bring you new clients, recommend relevant resources, and facilitate networking with possible business partners. If you’re a nonprofit organization, your local web designer might also be a good connection to donors, volunteers, and contributors of auction prizes for your events.
A local web designer can meet with you in person. While it’s not a requirement, it’s a bonus if your web designer can visit your office or store, see your organization, meet with you to discuss plans or projects, and attend your events.
A local web designer is in your time zone, which allows the maximum overlap of typical working hours. I’m in California and try to stick with only west coast clients, but when I had clients on the east coast, they would occasionally forget about the time difference, and I’d hear my cell phone ringing at 6:00 am. On the other end of the workday, I’d be hard at work at 3:00 pm, have a question, and realize that I could not reach them for an answer until the following day. While only mildly frustrating, it did impact productivity.
A local web designer can more easily be held accountable. If work is not delivered to your satisfaction, and the web designer is not geographically close, you may have a challenge chasing him or her down for resolution. When the person chasing you is thousands of miles away, there’s very little risk that he or she will pursue you to your home turf.
There’s even a corollary for web designers
A local client can be held accountable if they do not pay their bills. It does not happen often, but when I have to chase clients for payment, it certainly helps when I am physically able to confront them. In addition, since we generally know people in common, I have the leverage of embarrassing them in front of other clients or friends. While I really don’t want to resort to such tactics, it does give me the leverage needed. Local reputation can be a powerful motivator for some people who might otherwise not care that a client is unhappy.