Designing in the "New" Naperville
While many in the City of Naperville jokingly refer to themselves as “Napervillians”, the area is considered one of the finest to live and raise a family. The area is filled with entrepreneurs and families from the population boom of the 90’s. They are gifted with one of the lowest crime rates and highest public education systems in the entire country. Because of the, and many more positive aspects of the area, Naperville has become a thriving market for capital investment and small businesses to make their marks.
Along with business headquarters moving to Naperville, marketing firms have grown by leaps with the surrounding area. For many years, there were only a handful of graphic and web designers in the area. Web design in Naperville was a decision made on lack of options. Even recently, independent web designers just began to make a name for themselves in the area. Most of the web design and development for all of Illinois was being maintained out of Chicago or Oswego. Five agencies did 95% of all design and maintenance for the businesses who are now part of the community.
It shouldn’t be shocking that most businesses who have been here for some time, have websites that look alike and have no real distinguishing characteristics. With a lack of major competition, the web designers and developers that were here, got complacent and would typically make sites that mirrored even the clients competitor.
As a result, Naperville has now opened up as one of the best markets for the design and develop of website services. Although there are still a lot of “basement hosting groups” here, it has gotten considerably better with the infusion of hard working Freelancers in the area. The hosting companies with “Auto Builders” are becoming less trusted because of their obvious attempts and successes at preying on their customers; Freelancers have made a difference here as well. At last count, there were over 100 freelance web designers just within the city boundaries of Naperville and another 150 in Aurora. This added amount of competition has enabled the area to introduce higher quality websites than were previously available. The price for high quality design has also normalized from the days here a select few ran the books.
The recent changes in the market have evened the playing field. Web Design companies that had massive overhead at their clients expense are going under. The freelancers and small businesses are surviving and becoming more trusted due to their ability to survive on their humble status. The prices for a good site have become realistic. Instead of a local Steel Company that paid $15,000 for a pitiful 8 page HTML site, now designers locally are charging based on work and experience.
I hope that it doesn’t come across as though I’m excited about the way the markets have fallen. I understand a lot of people, including myself, have lived through a lot of suffering this economy has left us with. It is on the way to recovery, but it is coming slowly and there will be more to weather. The economic downturn has hurt business, but maybe it can be a functional way of resetting the clock. Even in these tougher times, it’s becoming a better experience to be a web designer in the city of Naperville.