Your website needs to have a high quality, industry-relevant design. Why? Because websites form the foundation of how your customers and visitors evaluate you. About half of all people state a website’s design is the most important factor they consider when determining business credibility. Despite this statistic, you might be considering redesigning your website yourself with a do-it-yourself tool, a premade template, or even having a non-designer employee or friend give your web design a try.
In this article, I’m going to share some important reasons why investing in the services of a professional website designer is the right choice. In a crowded online marketplace, the importance of uniqueness, authenticity, and successful technical implementation cannot be overstated.
Your Design Won’t Be Unique
Two of the main alternatives to working with a professional web designer are using purchasable website designs and website builder tools (like Wix, or Squarespace). Using one of these options means your website will be very similar, or nearly identical, to many other sites around the web in terms of layout and design. This lack of originality will make it hard for you to get a website that really matches your business’s true branding and style. As a result, you may never feel your website looks “just right.”
Purchasable Designs Provide You With a Familiar Looking Website (And That’s Not a Good Thing)
A purchasable website theme template is a product that your website platform (like Wordpress or Drupal) may have bundled with the platform, or that you can purchase from one of many online template shops. Purchasable theme templates that you can buy and download from an online store may be in use across hundreds or thousands of websites. If one of those websites belongs to a competitor, that could be embarrassing.
Website builders (like Wix, or Squarespace) provide an easy way for you to create customized designs for your websites. The makers of these website builders know that high quality web design requires special talent and a particular attention to detail that is not had by all. The value they provide is the ability for a non-designer or non-developer to build a website, so they provide a lot of preset layouts and ready-to-use designs. If you use these pre-made designs, you’ll end up in the same place as if you bought the purchasable theme, with a website that looks a lot like many other people’s websites.
Your Brand Will Lack Authenticity
Your website’s design is more than just a graphical layout for product text and clickable buttons. When done right, your website design will align with your brand and identity and help tell the story about who you are and what you are all about.
In a Competitive Marketplace, Authenticity Helps Potential Customers Choose You
With all else being equal, customers and clients will choose to work with somebody they trust, with somebody they like, and with somebody they most identify. If you don’t help them develop that trust, they may just go somewhere else to meet their needs. Pre-built templates and builder tools may make it cheaper and quicker for you to get your business online, but they don’t provide a direct path to providing an authentic web experience to your visitors.
By its very nature, any website service that is intended to be usable by vast amounts of people and companies will utilize any number of reusable components, and they’ll often place limitations on how much you can customize those features. When you’re trying to tell the story of your brand, you don’t want to be hampered by arbitrary limitations that are intended to extract more recurring revenue, or be stuck using somebody else’s building blocks.
You May Not Own Your Design
If you’re going to go through the effort of designing and building out your website, you better make sure that you do it in such a way that you retain ownership of all that work. Believe it or not, that isn’t always necessarily going to be the case.
Free or Cheap Often Means Giving Up Ownership On Some Level
Professional services are rarely cheap because by definition they’re being offered and performed by people with extensive experience in their respective fields. As a result, it can be attractive to seek out cheaper or free products that offer services of a similar nature. It’s worth noting, though, that any time you use a low-cost or free product there’s a chance that you won’t actually be entitled to the ownership of the resulting design or website.
I recall a friend of mine who had signed up for a low-cost website design and setup service that provided an all-inclusive type of service. The vendor took care of the hosting, helped with the setup of the design with some modifications, and even made sure that the necessary contact forms and social media widgets worked properly. Eventually though, as is sometimes the case, the relationship and service didn’t work out quite the way my friend hoped. He went to cancel his subscription and export his website files so he could find new hosting. Except, this company apparently had no intention of providing access to the hosting control panel and while they feigned an interest in trying to help them move the website, months went by with no resolution. What a nightmare. My friend ultimately had to rebuild the website from scratch meaning that they didn’t really save much money after all.
Critical Techniques Will Be Overlooked
Professional web design is an intensive and technical process even when you’re just dealing with the high level aspects of the graphic design process. When you incorporate some of the now critical and modern techniques, such as responsive design, it rises to an even higher level of complexity.
Implementing Techniques Like Mobile Responsiveness Are Critical to Modern Web Design
Somebody who creates professional web designs for a living is going to invest in their knowledge and capabilities. They’ll know how important it is to make your website friendly for mobile users and that the responsive design approach is the best way to achieve this goal. I wouldn’t expect a non-designer to realize the more esoteric aspects of web design, but that doesn’t change the fact that these implementation details can have very dramatic effects on the value of your website and your overall web strategy.
You’ll Waste Time and Money on Rework
If the person managing the design process doesn’t know about critical aspects of the design process, and you get too far along before realizing that, you’re going to have rework. Rework means redoing things that were supposedly already completed, which means more money spent finishing the design of your website.
Redoing Aspects of a Project is a Big Contributing Factor to Cost Overruns and Missed Deadlines
If you want your design project to successfully result in a great new design while also being completed on time and within your budget, you’re going to need to work with a professional designer that will get things right with little rework. Imagine the frustration of taking a “less expensive” route only to end up spending more money in the long run if you had worked with a professional in the first place.
For most web design projects, some amount of iteration on the overall look and feel of the design should be expected, and for very experienced designers this step will be planned for. However, these iterations should occur early in the project and be handled in a very deliberate way. One warning sign to watch for is when the designer is progressing to the final stages of the design process and hasn’t been including you throughout the process. Rather than relying entirely on their own instincts, a good web designer will be comfortable with getting your feedback throughout the project. Ultimately, this approach will prevent drastic changes and rework from being needed at the tail end of the web design project.
You Might Rely on Undependable Resources
Everybody has a family member or a friend who is a whiz at something that is normally in the realm of established professionals. I won’t deny that these people exist, I’m sure a lot of the leaders in the tech industry were that sort of person. There are also hundreds of companies with some do-it-yourself or quick start design templates, and agencies with teams overseas that offer extremely low price design services. It’s great that these cheap and easy resources exist, but when an ugly problem or small business crisis presents itself, will you be able to count on those people to go the distance and help you through those issues? If things go bad, what is your recourse?
When You Run Into Problems You Want to Be Working With Somebody Who Has Invested Their Reputation Into Your Success
You can’t pay for somebody to care. You also can’t always count on a kid who is juggling their homework, a freelancer who can only handle so many projects, or a theme template vendor who has a team overseas monitoring a web forum that poses for their support. If you work with somebody who has nothing on the line, you’re taking a big risk with your project because there’s likely very little motivating them to give you support.
When you’re working with a professional web designer and design team, you’re working with somebody who’s putting their reputation on the line every time they take on a project and send a client an invoice.
You’ll Risk Not Converting Visitors Into Customers
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, half of all people state a website’s design is the most important factor in deciding business credibility. Half. This statistic should really drive home how crucial it is that your web design communicates the credibility of your company.
Imagine If We Were Talking Instead About a New Restaurant on Its Opening Weekend
In our pretend town, retail businesses and restaurants are heavily dependent on foot traffic and visitors exploring the small downtown area. Like most entrepreneurs, our restaurant had limited funds to work with, so they developed a strategy to try and get around this issue. They decided to spend as little as possible on the exterior of their property and instead put their money into the food and an interior renovation. There are a lot of other eateries to compete with, many of which have much classier and well maintained properties. However, our new restaurateurs were confident that putting their limited capital into their kitchen staff, a great menu, and an enjoyable inside ambience would be the key to turning their first patrons into repeat customers.
As each group of people walked up to the restaurant on opening night, they took one look at the grimy and disheveled exterior and continued on to the next place to eat, leaving before ever getting inside and even checking out the menu. The folks that ignored their subconscious instincts and went inside to check out the new place, and then decided to stick around after reviewing the menu, were rewarded with a wonderful meal. The restaurant did “OK” on their opening night, but they could have done so much better.
Few People Will Know How Great Your Product or Service is If Most Don’t Think You’re Legit
It’s essential that you capture the attention of and make a great impression on your potential customers from the very first moment that they interact with your website. There are many aspects of user experience, but the overall design of your website is one that you can have total control over if you so choose.
At the end of the day, you may resign yourself into believing that you cannot afford to hire a professional web designer. I challenge you to reconsider if you can afford not to.