I’m a web designer and I don’t think you should necessarily hire a web designer to create your website. Don’t get me wrong: web designers have a vast amount of knowledge, not only about how to make websites pretty but also about how people interact with them. That said, investing in a professional web designer isn’t the right choice for everyone. What should you do?
Making your own website
…is waaaaay cheaper than hiring professionals.
You’ll still need to pay for hosting, a domain name, as well as additional fees for a theme or plug-ins, but there is no denying that making your own site will save you money—at least up front.
You can get lost in a quagmire of code.
If you have no inclination towards coding, setting up a host, or figuring out what button should go where, making your own website will be hell. If you don’t mind chatting with a friendly tech support person at your hosting company and you love tweaking fonts, colours, and layouts, it could be fun!
It takes time.
And if it’s not your area of expertise, it could take lots of time—which you could be spending making or marketing or merchandising.
Who should DIY?
DIY websites are ideal for hobbyists and some brand new businesses.
If you’re just beginning and know you’ll be going through lots of growth and changes in the next year or two, hold off on investing in a professionally designed website until you have a better understanding of your business.
You know your way around CSS and have an eye for design.
If you’re happy mucking about in code, you can go far with a DIY website. Armed with a high-quality pre-existing theme, you can customize it and fix the simple issues that come up every now and then.
If you’re going to DIY it, avoid using platforms like Wix or Weebly or the website builder that comes with your hosting service. Instead, opt for user-friendly and professional-approved platforms like WordPress or Squarespace.
Hiring a web designer
You get access to their wealth of knowledge.
It is a web designer’s job to know how people move through websites and how to arrange content and buttons to get the most out of each visitor. A web designer is also aware of current best practices. Every so often Google announces that it will start ranking websites lower in search results if they do (or don’t do) certain things, like if they aren’t mobile friendly or if they have pop-ups.
They’ll make it look GOOD.
I keep saying “they don’t just make it look pretty!” But a web designer will make your website look pretty! A modern-looking website is one of the many ways that your business establishes trust with customers. If your website looks like it hasn’t been updated in ten years, potential customers may feel wary about giving their credit card info.
The only downside to hiring a web designer is the cost.
And here’s where we get two conflicting thoughts: the cost is totally worth it…but it is also a completely valid reason to hold off on getting a professionally designed site. A completely custom website will probably start around $2500 and go up from there. It is a worthwhile investment to make in your business—but buy your groceries first.
Who should hire a designer?
Your second website.
You’ve done the DIY route and that worked for you for awhile, but now you’re frustrated that it doesn’t do certain things that you want and you just get angry when you try to figure it out for yourself.
You’re making the leap from hobbyist to professional.
For the last few years you’ve been making pottery or clothing or jewelry and selling it on Etsy, but now you’ve quit your job and you’re going to be a full-time maker. You want full control over your selling platform and a beautiful place to showcase your wares to wholesale buyers.
You’re setting up an e-commerce site.
Platforms like Shopify can help you make your own e-commerce site, but even so, setting up a site with all the requirements to accept credit card payments is an extra challenge that you should be wary of, especially if you’re not particularly tech savvy.
See yourself in this camp? Let’s get started on your new website.