With services like Wix, Squarespace and many others offering “stunning” and “easy” do-it-yourself website builder options, do you need to hire a professional web designer?
That largely depends on your business, budget, and your own eye for design. Before we dig into that, let’s first talk a little about what a website builder is.
Essentially, it is a tool that makes it possible for anyone to create a website because it integrates all the design and coding. You essentially pick from templates and rely on pre-set functions and code to choose design styles, color and font schemes, and more. You don’t need to know CSS, HTML and other coding. Building a website can be as easy as pointing and clicking or dragging and dropping.
On the other hand, web designers do all the heavy lifting for you. A strong designer needs nothing more than a description of what you want, to bring a concept to life.
So how do you choose between the two? Consider the following.
Web builders do offer professional-looking templates and design options, but you are still choosing those elements. Maybe you have an eye for design, but if you don’t, you could end up with an ugly website, or maybe even worse, one that is standard and boring.
Web designers bring a whole host of skills to the picture. They follow web design trends. They know how to design pages so that they stand out and generate more sales. They understand color theory and how it impacts visitors. They can create beautiful images and videos that you won’t be able to find online. The best ones can offer you guidance on functionality and user-friendliness.
How much time you have
You can use a web building software and literally create your website within hours. That is especially appealing to small business owners, bloggers and individuals looking to build thought leadership sites.
You need much more lead time with web designers, and your website may not be ready to go “live” for weeks. You’ll work with them to build the concept and go through several rounds of review and revision. The result is that you end up with a website that looks and functions exactly as you need it to.
An added component to this is how much time you want to invest after the website goes live. If you build your own website, you are responsible for dealing with issues, like broken links and outdated content. You must monitor security certifications and make sure the site continues to function as it did on Day 1.
Designers often offer web maintenance packages and will handle all those tasks for you, so you can focus on the business.
Whether you want to differentiate your website and business
With web builders, you are using templates. You may not have that much flexibility with design elements and functionality, so your website will look generic. People may even be able to tell you used a template.
Web designers will create something completely custom and unique to your business, so you stand out from competitors. Beyond that, they can help to ensure you’re found in a sea of websites though keyword research and targeting, title optimization, local optimization, image optimization, meta description optimization, sitemap creation and more. Most web builders aren’t going to offer those SEO features.
No doubt, money plays a critical role in your decision. Web builders are low-cost; some are even free. Web designers aren’t. If an expert designer isn’t in your budget, you have your answer.
However, remember that your website is literally the face of your business. It is how people will find you online. It offers them a critical first impression of how successful and professional you are, so it’s not the best place to cut corners.
Rather than thinking about the overall cost, think about how quickly the website will pay for itself. If you aren’t selling anything, a web designer probably isn’t your best bet. However, if the purpose of your website is to sell products or services, it’s highly likely it will pay for itself pretty quickly—especially if it’s done right.