To borrow a Forrest Gump-ism, choosing an independent web designer is a lot like plucking a bon-bon from a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. And quite often, you end up with a nut. Here’s a picture that comes to mind: You need a website, and your spouse’s second cousin from Arkansas, who just graduated from a technical art institute hidden somewhere in the Ozarks, is available at a dirt-cheap rate. You don’t want to “overpay” for your website. You just want something clean and functional. So, considering the kid is working to build his portfolio, you decide to throw him a bone and invite him in to discuss your project. The day of the meeting, you have all of your project team members assembled at the appropriately slated meeting time when, after 45 minutes of waiting, you finally call the kid and discover he’s decided to sleep in. “Dude, I’m soooo sorry. I can be there in about an hour!” Sorry. Well. Okay. Everyone deserves a second chance. So, you reschedule the meeting. The day of the second meeting, you call the kid two hours in advance to ensure he’s up and ready to go. Your people are assembled again and, after about 15 minutes of dramatic silence, the kid finally shows up. Late. Wearing a backwards ball cap, a tee-shirt emblazoned with the message, “It’s not a party until the kielbasa comes out,” the most ragged, high-water cargo pants you’ve ever seen and about six days of scraggly facial hair to go with his greasy, unwashed dreadlocks (hence, the ball cap)! The aroma of “wet dog” follows him to his seat. Of course, he has nothing to write with, so you supply a pen and paper. Your team goes over the objectives for the site. The kid asks a few surprisingly good questions, such as, “do you need a CMS to handle your own updates?” and “do you have an FTP site to review the work?” But he doesn’t take notes. Midway through the meeting, his phone goes off. He takes the call. You discern from his side of the conversation, his roommate is locked out. He assures him he’ll be “back in a few” and the meeting resumes. The final agreement is that you’ll see something “in about two weeks.” Then, he asks for his check. You end up negotiating a one-third down payment on the spot, and he waits in your lobby until the check is cut. After he leaves, his sour aroma lingers in the reception area for another hour and a half. Two weeks come and go without a phone call or email. You finally track him down. He’s in Port Aransas on the beach with his girlfriend. “Dude, I’m sooooo sorry. I forgot to tell you. I’m on vacation!” Don’t laugh. This composite portrait was based on actual encounters I’ve had with independent web designers over the years. Sure, I’ve had some good ones in between, but my point is this: If you want a professionally designed website, get a professional web design company to do the work. Your deadlines will be met. Your site will operate as promised. The work will be completed on time, in budget. And you won’t look bad in front of your peers, customers or competition. And, oh yeah, your lobby will be left smelling clean and fresh. For a positive, professional experience in website design, think Einstein’s Eyes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project today, and we’ll be there. On time. Ready for business.