Websites are an essential part of business and communication for the majority of people now. This article looks at some of the benefits and drawbacks of using web designers and website builders. As with many things in the world of digital marketing and modern business, there’s no perfect solution or any categorically right or wrong answers. The option that’s right for you will depend on your own needs and preferences.
Essentially tools like Squarespace, WordPress, Wix and the ever-growing list of website creation software allows people with little or no specific knowledge to build a site for themselves. There are more options to choose from than ever and many of the platforms are free to use.
What are the advantages of using website builders?
- Cheap and fast.
Though there is a caveat to this point, which I will mention later in the article, as a general rule, using web building software is generally much cheaper than working with a professional web designer or digital marketing agency. Users can take advantage of the numerous free plugins and themes that are available as standard in most software packages, which means they can create a professional looking site in a couple of hours or so. Even if you choose to pay for the more comprehensive options that include things like hosting, identity protection and other extras, it will almost always cost less than hiring a professional.
- Total Control
If you understand how to navigate your way around the back end of website builders, you can have total control over the content you share. Editing text for grammar and spelling errors, adding images or changing fine details such as colour schemes or backgrounds is usually fairly straightforward, especially after a little practice. This means you don’t have to email somebody at an agency to make changes for you, instead, you can fine-tune your site and make small changes as and when you need to.
Web designers specialize in creating sites from scratch. They can code and program pages to specifications you provide and as they generally charge a professional rate, you can be quite exacting and specific about the look, feel and style of your site.
What are the advantages of hiring Web Designers?
- Professional looking results
The old saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly true in this instance. Though most people can put together a basic WordPress site that will look fairly acceptable, sites that are coded from scratch generally look better and perform more effectively. Loading times, security, user interface and overall design will usually be of an excellent standard and professionals who do this for a living understand how to mix functionality with aesthetics. (If this isn’t the case, it’s highly recommended that you look elsewhere.)
- More time to focus on what your business does
The web designer’s job is to take the information you give them and create something that fits with your underlying concept, brand voice and marketing plan. If SEO optimisation and tasks like fixing broken links sound too time-consuming for you to manage, many web designers will offer a retainer package that includes regular maintenance. This means you can focus on managing the actual work your business does, rather than having to spend time worrying about your online presence.
What are the disadvantages of using website builders
- Poor SEO
Though you can potentially take a number of steps to combat this, as a general rule, most website builders only provide the user with very basic SEO tools. This is important because if people can find you easily, they are more likely to become customers.
- A poor quality website can cost you money in the long run
As I alluded to earlier, it’s generally cheaper to use a website builder than it is to hire a designer. However, in some cases, a website that looks generic or performs poorly can be extremely damaging to your business in the long term. If customers have to wait for pages to load or can’t find what they’re looking for in a few clicks, they will simply move on to one of your competitors.
- Time Consuming
Unless you happen to have a lot of experience or a qualification in I.T, the process of building and managing a website can take time. Even if each task is relatively straightforward to do, it can still eat into your working day when you have other things to focus on.
What are the disadvantages of using web designers?
Web designers aren’t cheap. Though you will usually get great results, which can potentially boost sales, in the long run, the initial outlay can be far too much for some small businesses to afford. If you are a sole trader or a new startup with very limited funds, a web designer may be totally out of your price range.
- Unnecessary for many types of business
Depending on your niche or industry, the importance of the aesthetic features on your site will vary. If you simply need an online platform to sell your product, communicate with your customers or advertise your services, a simple template based site will usually do. Similarly, if you provide a service such as plumbing, building, catering or anything else that takes place offline, you are more likely to be judged on the quality of the work you do, rather than the way your website performs.
- The standard varies between agencies and designers
There are some incredibly talented, hard-working web designers out there but there are also some unscrupulous people who will exploit those with no knowledge of how the online world works. Some designers charge high prices for very basic work that could be done in any number of free software packages. This is thankfully quite rare, but it does still happen, so ensure you shop around a little bit before making a choice.