A website is a big step towards the growth of your business. But it can also be a large cost, both in time and money. By choosing the right direction when it comes to designing your website could save you some of both.
There are two options out there when it comes to setting up and designing your website. The first option is the Website builder. These are services such as Wix and Squarespace. The second option is a Web Designer. These are your design firms and generally, cost more.
Let’s look more into each one:
What is a Website Builder?
Most website builders are available free or for a little charge. The builders use pre-designed templates. They also generally give your site a cookie cutter feel. Builders need little or no coding knowledge to put together a site.
Because these sites are template based, there are few options that can be unique or custom. You can pick colors and sometimes the layout, but only with a limited number of choices. Using a builder can also limit the extra or special features your site can have.
Another factor to consider is this one. Most website builders do not allow you to take the design elsewhere. You could be stuck rebuilding the entire thing if you ever need to move your site.
Who should use Website Builders?
If you are needing a website for a small hobby business, then a website builder will be an excellent choice. Another type of business that would be best served is small non-profits. Businesses in an unproven territory are another good fit for template driven builders.
Generally, businesses that have little cash flow will work well with a builder. Also, businesses that will not be driving their income through a website will work well on a builder. Websites that do not need to stand out in a crowd or that need very limited options work well here too.
The ultimate deciding factors are cost, site purpose, and availability of time. Since you have to ‘build’ the site yourself, any elements you need such as content will need to get made by you. This can take a large amount of time.
What about Web Designers?
Web designers differ from builders in many ways. Depending on the design firm that you hire, many will assist with graphic design. Some even do copy-writing. A web development company will be able to take the grand concept you have in your head, get it on paper. From drawings on paper, they will design a site to match.
Even if the designer uses a template to start with, they have the ability to customize it. With a designer, your specifications will drive the entire look. Want a different do-dad on your sidebar? I bet the designer could create it for you.
A unique design can set you apart in your field. Think of some of the more interesting or unique websites you have seen. Ones that break outside of the normal box. These sites were most likely designed by a talented web developer.
When factoring in cost with hiring a designer, consider your time. Good designers will ease your burden and allow you to focus more on your business. They can help you to get great results and achieve your goals. A good firm will also help you with SEO and guide you into getting the traffic you need.
A good designer will generally also transfer the rights of the design to you once the site is complete. With those rights, you can use the design no matter where you move the site too. It will remain yours for as long as you choose to use it.
So who should use a Web Developer?
Web designers can be the perfect fit if you are needing a very customized site. The ability to code and adjust a site completely means that you can get exactly what you are looking for. They can match your desire to stand out in a crowded space.
Another good fit is businesses that drive lots of traffic to their website. A designer can create a smooth flow of traffic which in turn will help you to secure more leads. Fewer bumps and more specific calls to action will help to increase business.
Businesses that sell high-value items should also look for a good developer. Your website should be a direct reflection of what you do. I am not saying website builders produce a poor website. But the lack of uniqueness can render a sense of cheapness on a website. It is way harder to sell high-end products when you look like a newbie and not a professional.
I would also recommend using a developer if you want to own the rights to the content. This will give that the ability to move web hosts should you desire. The ability to move can be huge if the hosting company is not operating as well as you need it. Or you outgrow what you are paying for currently.
As you have read, there are lots of reasons that you could choose either direction. But not everything is a one size fits all. As a design firm, we see clients in all kinds of situations. We have developed sites for hobby businesses and non-profits. Our firm has also created sites for many types of small businesses.
It comes down to time and money. If you have the money or don’t have the time, you should hire out a design firm. If you do not have the money and have the time to devote then you should go to a website builder. Keep in mind that employees cost money too and should count towards costs.
In the end, only you can make the decision for your business. I would stress doing thorough research. Get quotes from designers and builders. Plan out how long it will take you to do some of the tasks. Decide how much your time is worth and go for it.
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