Why You Should Hire a Professional Web Designer

 In Client Advice, Web Design

I was recently doing some SEO research when I stumbled on a post while searching for “web designer” SERPs and below the snack box (the top three results with the map at the top of the results), titled “Why You Should NOT Hire a Website Designer in 2018”, which immediately piqued my interest. I mean, yes, there are a lot of great tools out there for building websites like (Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly to name a few), but they really aren’t a replacement for a professional web designer.

Now, the post does state that they aren’t against hiring a professional web designer (a HUGE misconception based on the title of the post and categorizes it as click-bait, but it does say that small business startups shouldn’t invest in a custom designed website starting out, which in my opinion, is a huge mistake. Here’s why.

PERCEPTION IS REALITY

What do I mean by that? Well, a few things, actually. If you were to open a business – for the sake of argument, let’s say an online business – and put up a website from Wix, SquareSpace or Weebly that has few customization options (for unskilled business owners), it’s going to look like just that – an average looking website that someone took as little time as possible customizing the experience for the user – not because they wanted to but because they just didn’t know any better. Is that the kind of online business you want to start out with? Would YOU shop on a site that just doesn’t look professionally branded and maintained? I’m guessing, probably not, IE perception is reality.

If you’re hitting the market for the first time, you REALLY need to take the time and make the investment and put your best foot forward. Otherwise, if you’re testing the waters of your target market with a mediocre online shop, you’ll get a mediocre response.

YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN

Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly offer some affordable options, yes. Great for small businesses. And, as a small business, you’re focused on every dollar, which is understandable. However, your website should be an investment, not just an expense that you pay monthly or annually to have. And, maintain your website properly, you should be updating it regularly based on the keywords you’re trying to rank for, keeping the content fresh and removing stale our outdated information. Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly aren’t going to do this for you. In fact, just the keyword research and content management alone is a full-time job – another reason why a professional web designer is important to your online presence.

Finding a professional web designer that you can work with and afford their rates can be tricky. It’s important to do your research and find a web designer that matches your business. They won’t be free, but Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly weren’t going to be either. And, what’s more, if something goes wrong, you KNOW who you’re going to contact versus any of the others (where you’ll probably get support from out of the country).

As a small business owner, you already know the importance of shopping local – which is just another reason to hire a local, professional web designer to design and maintain your website. And speaking of “local”…

BEING A PROFESSIONAL WEB DESIGNER IS MORE THAN JUST DESIGNING A WEBSITE

It’s 2018 – the days of throwing up a website and leaving it, hoping that someone will find you are gone. History. In fact, to be a good professional web designer today, you need to be able to do MORE than just build a website – basic SEO, search engine tools and analytics and copy writing. That’s right – the stuff that used to be additional or optional for a website today are, or should be, a requirement. Basic search engine optimization that should be setup for any new (or existing) website include the following: Google My Business page (requires verification), Google Webmaster Tools (requires verification), Bing Webmaster Tools (requires verification) and Google Analytics. Without these basic SEO tools setup for your website, you’ll find it very difficult to rank anywhere near the top of the SERPs.

Beyond basic SEO setup and configuration, today’s professional web designer should have decent copy writing skills that will be used to help tweak a client’s content to enable their site to rank better for particular keywords. Keyword research and content management should be ongoing activities and not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.

WHAT IF MY BUSINESS IS BRAND NEW?

Ultimately, you need to do your homework before you start your business or it is doomed to fail before you start. You should know if there is a market for your products or services before you open up shop. And, if your business is brand new, it’s even more important that you should have a custom design website with basic SEO setup because otherwise, how are people going to find you online? Having a professionally branded website with basic search engine optimization will really set the tone for your business and show your potential customers that you care about your appearance, are a legitimate and trustworthy, based on your appearance, and why your solution is the best option on the market.

WHAT PROFESSIONAL WEB DESIGN ISN’T…

Hiring a professional web designer isn’t a replacement for knowing your market and competition. Simply having a website isn’t going to help a business if you don’t know your target audience and what competition is currently out there for your product or services.

It’s not a silver bullet. What do I mean by that?  A professionally designed website isn’t going to solve all of your businesses woes. Just as you wouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket, you shouldn’t rely on your website to do all of your business’ marketing for you. There’s much to be done that doesn’t involve your website, such as networking and traditional marketing (print ads and flyers, etc), that can’t be done solely through your website.

It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. The days of simply building an informational website and just leaving it to do its job (to inform) are just about over. What do I mean? Well, in order for people to find your “informational” site, you’ll need to know whether or not people are actually searching for and finding it – otherwise, it’s not reaching anyone or doing it’s job. That means, ongoing keyword research, content tweaking and adding or removing pages and posts as needed.

STILL NOT SURE ABOUT HIRING A PROFESSIONAL WEB DESIGNER?

I’m sure much of the argument for not hiring a professional web designer is valid; makes sense to save a buck or two before you’ve made a buck or two. However, there’s nothing saying that you’re going to make a buck or two with your self-published website OR that it’s resonated with your potential customers (or found for that matter).

It’s extremely important to start any business or entrepreneurship off on the right foot – send the right message at the right time and it could make all the difference. Your appearance will go a long way toward establishing credibility in the marketplace as well as trust with your customers.

Obviously, a fully functional website also lends a hand to gaining the trust of visitors and potential customers. Knowing how to reach your target audience using language that resonates with them is extremely important as well. And, if you don’t know what you’re doing with these things, it could do more harm than good.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU HIRE

I’m not saying that you should hire just anyone for your website design – do your homework first. Some folks are clearly better than others with regard to design and content marketing. Do your homework, get quotes, ask questions – remember this is YOUR investment, not just an expense.

What I am saying is that, most definitely, yes, hire a professional web designer for your brand new business’ website because if you don’t start out right with your website, it could be a long time before a second website gets created and the old links get redirected to the new ones – another thing I good web designer will make sure happens when moving from one website to another.

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