So why would a small business, who maybe only require a brochure site of a few pages, choose to pay a web designer? First of all I will take you through the pros and cons of a couple of alternative ways to get a website up and running and then I’ll offer my opinion as to why I think hiring a web designer is still the way to go in most cases.
Services such as GoDaddy and Wix offer a quick way to get a website up and running. If you are computer literate and have all the content required for your site, you can have one of these online with your own web address (www.) in one evening. The cost is relatively cheap to, £5-15 per month ongoing cost. This will give you a wide range of colour schemes and page themes to choose from. They allow you to upload your logo and place all of your content within the editable sections defined by the template. If you do it right, this will give you a nice looking brochure site, however there are down sides…
As you do not have full control over the template, you have to work with what you are given. This means that should you want to change the layout of the website, you will not be able to, which is a big restriction. Once you have chosen a theme it is set for good and you would have to re-enter all of your content again into the new template. Wix does provide a lot of guidance to help you through the process and their interface looks clean and easy to use, but it still requires a bit of time and effort, especially if you are not very computer savvy, to get it looking like a proper eye catching website that gets your message across effectively.
The websites that you create are also not that well optimized for mobile devices. What the Wix builder will do is strip out any content that it deems unnecessary in order for the website to fit a mobile device and therefore you might lose a feature (such as an image or graphic) that you would otherwise want to keep. This may not me a game breaker but it’s just another example of the lack of control and won’t look as good as it could if a web designer had done it.
Finally, although they have improved vastly in the last couple of years, Wix websites still do suffer in Google search rankings compared to websites that are hand coded or build in Wordpress, something to bear in mind if you need to reply on good search engine rankings in order to gain more business.
Setting up a website in Wordpress is another way to get yourself online and this platform is also widely used by web design professionals as well, albeit at a more advanced level.
This is again based on choosing a ‘theme’ or a template for the overall layout of the website and then adding free or paid ‘plug-ins’ to it such as social media feeds or ecommerce solutions, some of which are more efficient and reliable than others and it will be hard for non-techies to sniff out the good ones from the bad. Choosing a bad plug-in can cause your website to load very slowly, can conflict with other plug-ins on your website and in rare cases actually crash the whole website. If you choose to set one up yourself it does not provide the guidance that Wix gives you and therefore it requires a bit of time to get it set up and learn how to use it to keep your website up to date. Of course this all depends on how tech savvy you are.
A big plus point is that Wordpress comes with a built in content management system, which allows you to add or edit elements such as text and images. You can even modify the layout of the entire website, but you should only do this if you really know what you are doing.
Wordpress websites also tend to be better for SEO (i.e. achieving a high ranking in search engines such as Google) than drag & drop builders as there are plug-ins you can add that will help to boost your rankings. In summary Wordpress is good to use if you have a good level of technological knowhow. Many web hosts give you the ability to install Wordpress easily with your hosting package and once you have it all set up, your website is completely customizable.
There are a lot of analogies I could use to explain the reasons for using a web design service over anything however. Make no mistake, drag and drop, Wordpress give you the tools to do the job, but in the same way that a Builders Merchant may provide all the materials necessary to build a house. Unless you know how to do it properly, you need to get the professionals in.
There is a great deal to think about when putting a website together from working out how best to structure all of the content, how to ensure you are targeting the correct keywords in order to be found in relevant search engine results, where best to place buttons and links to catch the users eye etc, etc. The list just goes on.
A web designer can take care of this and build you a completely bespoke website in order to represent your brand exactly how you wish. You get exactly what you and your business needs, there are no limitations. Most are fully versed in the technologies and programming languages required to build a website and it is this that ultimately determines the structure and functionality of a website amongst other things.
The process is completely hassle free as you leave everything up to the designer who knows exactly how to properly optimize your website in order for it to appear higher in search results through sites such as Google. They can also tackle situations such as optimizing images for the web so that they greatly increase page loading speeds, something that is easily overlooked but incredibly vital to the user experience and obtaining better search engine rankings.
Also vital to search engine rankings is ensuring that the website is properly optimized to work across all web browsers and all devices from desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones. Although some Wordpress and drag and drop templates have this facility built in, a designer will be able to customize this precisely in order to display and prioritise all the vital information on the website as neatly as possible.
So to wrap this up I would say there are cases when using a drag and drop/template based builder If you just want to get online quickly and cheaply, then go for this option.
If you perhaps don’t have the technological knowhow and want a professional website that will reflect your business’s personality and bring new clients/customers to your website then hire a web designer.
Why your business needs a website
Why you should hire a web designer to build your website