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Should You Hire a Professional Website Designer or DIY?

Should You Hire a Professional Website Designer or DIY?

Websites are essential for businesses and organisations of all sizes. A good-looking and easy-to-use website lets you connect with your customers, give them information about what you sell or do, create a brand for yourself and get more leads and sales.

When you decide to make a website, one of the first questions that will come up is, should I hire someone or try to do it myself? Both choices have positives and negatives; however, before making any decision, weighing up the budget and timeline with capabilities such as internal technical skills is necessary.

This detailed handbook investigates when employing an expert web designer to build your site using DIY website builders is appropriate. Keep reading if you want all the differences explained in-depth, along with cost comparison and what suits best according to each case scenario.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Website Designer

What Do Test Designers Do

Specialised Skills and Experience

The main advantage of hiring an established web design firm or freelancer is tapping into their specialised skills and years of experience building successful sites. Some benefits this brings include:

Holistic Approach

Pro designers strategically consider how all the elements – layout, content, images and back-end coding – come together to create a polished website aligned with your business goals.

Technical Expertise

They have expertise with HTML, CSS, content management systems and other languages/platforms needed to build functional, optimised sites.

Design Training

Pros have formal training in design principles, aesthetics, typography and user experience (UX) best practices. This helps them create sites that appeal visually and are intuitive to navigate.

Saving You Time

You avoid the steep learning curve and frustration of learning web design from scratch and can instead focus on running your business.

Ongoing Support

Reputable agencies provide ongoing technical support, maintenance and advice whenever issues arise. This gives you peace of mind.

Conveys Credibility

A professionally designed site with great UX sends the message that yours is an established, reputable brand that cares about meeting customer needs. This helps build trust.

Customisation for Your Exact Needs

Another perk of hiring out is getting a completely customised website tailored to your specific business, brand, offerings and target customer profiles.

Design agencies take the time to understand your goals, values, industry space and ideal workflows. This allows them to make platform recommendations and craft sites with features that truly support your operations.

For example, an eCommerce company has very different functionality requirements than a non-profit organisation. Professional web designers account for these unique needs in their work.

SEO and Accessibility Best Practices Baked In

Reputable web design professionals stay up-to-date on the latest search engine optimisation (SEO) and accessibility best practices. They directly incorporate these elements into the sites they build.

For example, they use clean semantic markup and metadata, optimise page speed, include alt text for images, and add captions to video – all of which help with organic search visibility and access for those using assistive technologies like screen readers.

As a result, the sites they hand over have been primed for search engine and user-friendliness from day one. This saves you the hassle of having to optimise it later.

The Perks of DIY Website Builders

Best Website Builders

While hiring out has some clear advantages, creating your site allows you to reap the following benefits:

Lower Upfront Cost

The most obvious pro of using an affordable, beginner-friendly DIY website builder platform is it costs little to no money upfront. Wix, Squarespace and Weebly offer free basic packages to create simple sites. Their mid-tier premium plans with more features run under $30 a month.

This low barrier to entry appeals if funds are limited at the moment. It allows you to build an initial website while investing minimal dollars.

Complete Creative Control

Having total creative control can be both a pro and a con when tackling DIY web design. On the plus side, you don't have to compromise your vision or work within the stylistic constraints of another designer. You also avoid lengthy back-and-forths requiring revisions to match your preferences.

This unbridled creative freedom appeals to some business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. However, it requires having a solid grasp of design fundamentals and principles to execute well.

Convenience Factor

The convenience and simplicity of drag-and-drop site builders also attract DIYers. Options like Weebly and Squarespace make it easy for nearly anyone to choose a template, customise colours/fonts, upload content, add eCommerce functionality, and quickly get a primary site live.

This speed and simplicity appeal strongly to those lacking time to tackle a drawn-out development process. It empowers virtually anyone to create a polished-looking website on their timeline.

Critical Considerations for DIY Website Builders

While affordability and accessibility make do-it-yourself website builders tantalising, there are a few significant limitations to consider:

Template Restrictions Can Feel Constraining

Most DIY platforms provide templates and colour schemes from which to select. This helps guide the design process for newbies. However, having cookie-cutter templates can quickly start feeling bland and restrictive.

Since templates built on common frameworks are used across thousands of websites, it is hard to stand out with a unique look and feel.

Limited Customisation Capability

The limited customisation typically available with DIY platforms is related to the reliance on templates. You usually can't tweak underlying code or have complete control over layouts, branding, animations and other elements.

While DIY tools help you easily modify surface-level features like images, colours, and text, they don't provide the depth of personalisation possible when hiring a developer to build fully custom sites from the ground up.

Responsiveness and Accessibility Not Always Intuitive

Making sites mobile-responsive across device sizes and screen reader-friendly for those with visual impairments requires some technical know-how. Most DIY platforms attempt to bake responsiveness in, but accessibility is often an afterthought.

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As a result, business owners lacking proper training may launch sites with subpar user experiences. This hurts SEO and conversion rates.

Ongoing Management Can Be Challenging

The initial launch of an essential informational website may seem straightforward. However, optimising it can prove challenging as you add more pages, blog content, eCommerce products, and customisations over time.

Managing domains, securing hosting, ensuring speedy page loads, maximising conversions, avoiding downtime, and handling technical hiccups requires ongoing solid oversight. This quickly gets complex, even for more premium DIY tools.

Security Vulnerabilities

Unfortunately, the convenience of drag-and-drop site builders comes with some risks. Their broad accessibility means hackers can quickly access, replicate and exploit them. This leaves DIY sites more vulnerable to security threats than fully customised platforms.

Without rigorous testing and protection, losing valuable customer data and intellectual property to cyber attacks remains an ongoing danger for DIY sites.

Making the Best Choice for Your Needs and Goals

Website Design Software Options In 2023 2024

By this point, hiring a professional designer and leveraging DIY website builders come with their mix of pros, cons and limitations. So, how do you choose the best path forward?

Here are five key questions to ask yourself during the decision process:

1. What are your current business goals with the website?

Gaining clarity on your objectives is a logical starting point. Important goals might include:

  • Generating more leads
  • Expanding your audience reach
  • Launching an online store
  • Showcasing your brand identity and offerings
  • Publishing blog content
  • Gathering subscriber emails
  • Selling products/services directly

Specific goals align better with hiring help, while DIY works well for others. Map this out early on.

2. Do you have specialised functionality needs?

Bringing on web development pros is usually best if you want many custom features – like complex member portals, forums, apps and third-party integrations. They can build custom platforms with advanced functionality more smoothly.

For relatively basic sites, DIY often suffices. But remember, even if starting simple, you may eventually outgrow limited DIY capabilities as your needs evolve.

3. What level of technical skill do you and your team have?

Whoever manages the site day-to-day should possess a solid technical understanding. This ensures they can make updates, manage security protections, optimise speed and user experience, and handle issues.

If these skills don't exist internally, hiring help prevents you from getting stuck with an overwhelming, hard-to-manage site.

4. What does your startup budget allow for?

For young businesses and side hustles operating on very tight budgets, utilising an affordable DIY builder to launch an essential online presence makes practical sense. You can continually overhaul things down the road once funds allow.

On the other hand, for funded enterprises expecting rapid growth, hiring experts upfront creates more excellent long-term value and ROI despite the higher initial outlay.

Think holistically about total lifecycle cost, not just immediate expenses.

5. How much time can you realistically commit?

There's no sugarcoating it – launching a custom-designed site from scratch requires heavy involvement across months of planning, content creation, reviews and tests. Expect dozens of multi-hour meetings and long to-do lists. This pulls founders away from core business priorities for a significant period.

The plug-and-play simplicity of DIY systems holds strong appeal if you lack time for intense participation in a custom web project. Just be sure to carve out blocks for site management as it grows.

Should You Combine Both for a Hybrid Solution?

For some organisations, the best path involves finding opportunities to combine professional help and DIY self-service. Some examples of hybrid models include:

  • Using a DIY builder for setting up a simple initial website quickly while tapping an agency for targeted help boosting aspects like SEO and security
  • Bringing on expert support for overhauling outdated pages and implementing dynamic new functionality needed to support business growth after leveraging DIY solutions previously
  • Building a blog or community forum using DIY tools but designing the core company website via custom development
  • Launching fully custom sites focused on one niche or geography while leveraging DIY to replicate standardised templates across other regions easily

A hybrid approach allows balancing the pros of ownership and convenience with specialised expertise where it counts most. This helps keep costs reasonable while accessing pro skills for mission-critical elements.

Be sure to carefully map website goals, capabilities and roles upfront when blending responsibilities across parties. Without establishing apparent oversight, hybrid digital projects can quickly turn disorganised.

The Bottom Line

Whether to hire a professional website designer or use DIY website builders depends entirely on your specific scenario, capabilities, needs and constraints. Avoid knee-jerk reactions by carefully taking stock of critical factors using the above guideposts.

A hybrid model blending both allows striking an optimal balance in many cases. Seek opportunities to tap external skills to augment mission-critical elements while directly managing more straightforward functions possible via DIY tools. This balance helps maintain site quality and total cost control over the long haul.

Whatever path you pursue, the most important thing is ensuring alignment with your overarching digital presence goals, abilities and resources. Can your website become an invaluable business asset rather than a burden?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are typical price ranges for hiring professional web designers versus DIY options?

Hiring web design agencies usually starts around $5,000 – $15,000+ for fully custom sites, with monthly hosting/maintenance fees of $100+ per month on top. Individual freelancer rates often fall around $50 – $150 per hour.
DIY platforms offer free tiers for primary sites, then charge monthly subscription fees ranging from $10 – $50 for upgraded packages with more capability. Annual plans offering deeper discounts are also standard.

Can I easily switch from DIY platforms to custom-built sites later on?

Migrating content from leading DIY tools to custom-developed sites is generally straightforward. But you still often must start layouts and design from scratch. Recreating complex logic and functionality also proves more challenging. Plan this carefully.

Are DIY sites bad for SEO?

They can be – but they don't have to be. The restrictions around underlying code modifications on some DIY platforms limit advanced SEO customisations. However, if managed diligently, core technical best practices like site speed, mobile optimisation, and metadata still allow solid organic visibility.

How much web design knowledge is required for the DIY route?

Fundamentals like properly structuring content, basic SEO practices, keeping branding cohesive, managing site speed, and implementing calls-to-action can be quickly learned, especially with tutorial help. But gaining deep technical fluency around underlying code, security, cross-browser testing, CMS management and troubleshooting site issues requires years of focused training for most. Know your limits!

Who typically owns rights to the final website design files – me or the designer/developer?

With DIY platforms, you retain full ownership of site files. Intellectual property and licensing should be explicitly detailed in your services contract when hiring custom work. Reputable agencies usually provide license transfers granting you broad usage rights following final payments for their custom designs. However, specifics can vary widely in rare cases, so review the paperwork thoroughly.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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