This is a question that I get asked more and more frequently as the number of self build options increases, and the price of the self builds falls.
It can often be quite hard for a professional web designer to justify his or her prices, which usually run into hundreds if not thousands of pounds, when faced with a template building site offering all in packages starting at under £3 a month.
So what do you get if you pay a professional web designer?
A website unique to you
If you decide to build your site using a template builder you’ll soon be able to spot others that have been built using the same template. Wouldn’t you much rather have a site built specifically to suit your needs and reflect your personality?
My first thought was that this goes without saying, but actually I don’t think it does. Design isn’t just about the look of a site, it’s also about the customer flow and user experience, both of which are critical if you’re going to convert site visits into actual sales.
Again, this almost goes without saying, but does it really? Do you know how to create a high quality but low resolution photo? Or how to create a filtered and sorted list of products on your site? And what about how to test your site? Have you ever tried (or even heard of) A/B testing? Regression testing? Or black box testing? It’s all important stuff if you want your website to work well and work properly.
Building your website is just the first step. The next one (and arguably the most important one) is getting people to visit the site, and this is where Search Engine Optimisation comes in. SEO is a subject too big for this post, but did you know that it covers (amongst many other things):
- writing relevant and searchable content
- making sure the site is accessible to people with disabilities
- getting your site to work in tandem with your social media presence
- designing a layout which not only appeals to your customers but which also easy for search engines to use
- building the site so that it looks good on each of the multitude of devices that we now use to access the web
- knowing what you shouldn’t do for the search engines as well as what you should.
I think I probably should have listed this first as it’s possibly the most important item, and certainly the one which is most frequently overlooked. Again, it’s too big a topic for this blog, but it covers things like:
- keeping your site safe from hackers and brute force attacks
- if it does get hacked, knowing how to rebuild it quickly so that you lose as little online time as possible
- data protection – which customer data you can store, which you can’t, where you can store it and what you’re allowed to do with it.
So does that mean I think you should always pay a professional? Actually, no. If you’re time rich but money poor you should be able to build yourself a pretty good looking site that is at least good enough to dip your business’s toe in the internet waters. And once you decide it’s getting too complicated or taking up too much of your time, find yourself a good designer. I don’t think you’ll regret it.