Hiring a Website Designer vs Free Online Tools
If you are reading this post right now, I have a hunch that you are trying to decide whether to hire a web designer or use a website builder for your next project. Although I used a website builder while starting up, you might be surprised to hear that I think sometimes hiring a website designer is the best choice.
Here is why!
If you own a small or medium sized business, then using a ‘free’ website builder could cost your company many tens of thousands of dollars in wasted man hours and even more money in the opportunity cost of lost potential revenue.
Other people might disagree with me on this point, and that’s OK. But what you should get straight is that hiring a professional web designer or design firm is not for everyone.
For example; if you’re a new business without much revenue, then using an affordable website builder is exactly what you should be doing.
Web builders are basically a magic toolbox for non-web designers. Web builders like Wix, IMCreator, Weebly, and Jigsy have helped millions of people create websites easily, even without Photoshop or coding experience. There are many web builders that have popped up in the last couple of years and people can just drag and drop and launch their sites within a day. In the same fashion, there are literally millions of talented web designers out there, and their numbers are growing by the day.
Still, it can be confusing, especially when you are new to owning websites. To understand both, let’s take a look at the beauty of web builders and why hiring a web designer is the best.
THE BEAUTY OF FREE WEBSITE TOOLS
DRAG AND DROP FEATURES
The web building site’s main attraction is their ability to enable regular users to create websites with just a few mouse clicks. By simply dragging elements to a canvas, users have control over how they want their websites to look like.
Editing a website is easy too. If users want to change fonts, colours, and even images, all they need to do is click and apply the necessary changes. No editing of HTML and CSS files. Another note-worthy thing about web builders is that they are built in a way that is easily understood by people of all ages. Take Weebly as an example. Once users sign up, they will be greeted by a step-by-step website creation guide. All they have to do is choose from a wide range of options. This user-friendly guide can be found at most web building sites.
IN-HOUSE FEATURES AND SUPPORT
Web builder companies understand that many of their users aren’t technical people, so they all have a team of people who are on stand-by just to answer people’s questions and help them with their troubles.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A WEB DESIGNER
While web building sites appear to be all sunshine and rainbows, they can easily lead to a big mess when not enough preparation is made. Problems like transferring websites to a different host, limited features, and design redundancy are just some of the common problems that you might experience in the long run.
So, what does a website designer actually do and how is it different?
The short answer is it depends on who you hire. But assuming you hire someone good, what a web designer or design agency brings to the table can be a lot. First, a good web designer can take your vision and bring it into reality. They can take the concept that is stuck in your head or heart and turn it into a living breathing design that you can see.
If they’re really good, they can get an understanding of your business and your customers and tailor the design and structure of your site to facilitate conversions to help generate more sales. A good web designer can also help you have a unique and interesting design that sets you apart from your competitors. Nowadays all websites are beginning to look the same and having a custom designed website can help your business get noticed in a crowded space.
Let’s imagine that you were planning your wedding day and wanted to have pictures taken to capture this momentous event. One option could be handing your friend a DSLR camera and have them take pictures of the big day. Hiring a web designer would be the equivalent of engaging a professional wedding photographer to take artistic and beautiful photos that you could treasure for the rest of your life.
Still not sure whether or not to hire a professional website designer? Let’s look at the below;
The Beauty of Hiring a Website Designer
- PROFESSIONAL DESIGN
When you hire a website designer, you are hiring a professional. Someone whose job it is to understand design best practices, fonts, colours, harmony and balance. They also have an understanding of user interface, information architecture and how design impacts visitor flow. All of these skills are brought to the table when you hire a professional.
- UNIQUE DESIGN
Remember the Matrix Reloaded? Yes, it was a terrible movie. But remember when Agent Smith started cloning himself that the matrix was overrun by a sea of Agent Smiths? Well, that’s how things are beginning to feel regarding design. All websites are starting to look the same because they all use the same templates. Hiring a website designer allows you to have a unique and original design.
- Optimized for conversion
Most templates are not optimized for visitor conversions. They really can’t be because they are trying to appeal to a broad number of user types and can’t be designed to create a clear conversion path tailored to your specific user path. When hiring a web designer, at least when hiring a good one, they will help structure the design in such a way that it is designed to optimize conversions – which means more leads and more sales.
- SEO optimized
A good website designer or firm should have knowledge of Search Engine Optimization and be able to do keyword research, help identify the best keywords to rank for and make sure your site is tagged and structured to be optimized for those keywords. Most website builder platforms have minimal SEO tools.
- Ongoing support
Ever been on a live chat with tech support talking about how you need to update your DNS when you don’t even know what the heck a DNS is? Not fun. When you hire a professional, those problems go away, and you get to pick up the phone and talk to a human being who will solve those problems for you without being made to feel like a simpleton because you don’t understand tech jargon.
- Saved time
Is your time worth anything to you? When you hire a web designer you are buying your life back, or at least many hours of it, by paying a professional to deliver results rather than spending countless hours banging your head against a wall or teaching yourself a new skill that has nothing to do with your profession.
If your needs are simple and will most likely be so for years to come, then spending a few hours building your own website via a web builder is practical. That is because usually catalogue websites don’t need a lot of fancy features – just a gallery, a place to include text, and other simple stuff. The same is also true for restaurant websites.
But if you need to open an online store, a news website, membership sites, forums, and similar heavy-featured websites, I highly recommend looking for professional services. This way you will save time, money, and energy.