A well-designed website that is built using the best practices will work for you 24/7 to attract visitors and turn those visitors into customers. The good news is that you have a few choices when it comes to having a website designed for your local business:
1. You can do it yourself (DIY) by learning to code or use a Website Builder
2. You can hire a professional web designer
Learning how to build a website from scratch will be time consuming and hiring a web designer can require a larger budget than planned, which is why the free and low cost website builder services like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace have become all the rage these days. You can’t visit a website, listen to a podcast, or watch a video online without seeing or hearing ads talking about how you can create a beautiful, fully functional website in as little as a few hours. With no coding or design experience.
Wow. That sounds amazing, but is it really what you’re looking for?
For local businesses, a web builder can seem like the best option. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of using one of these tools and whether it will really serve your business goals in the long run.
Website Builder vs Website Designer
If you don’t plan to teach yourself how to build a website from scratch then you are left with: website builder vs. website designer. As convenient as web builders may claim to be, below are a few reasons why, at the end of the day, we recommend you at least consider investing in professional web design services rather than just settling for a DIY website builder. After all, you are running a business so you are going to need a website that sells customers.
The Pros & Cons of a Website Builder
DIY website builders have become so popular recently.
The main attraction to them is that users can quickly choose a template, upload their content, and have a website online in a matter of hours, at little to no cost.
These website builders use “drag and drop” and “WYSIWYG” (stands for “What You See Is What You Get”) tools to make it easy for anyone to format and edit webpages. If you can use Microsoft Word then you can use these services, which is much better than having to learn HTML and CSS to build a website yourself.
With web builders, their paint-by-number templates make it very simple for you to upload content, like text and images, and place where you want it on the page. As long as you stay within the lines of the template and properly size your images to fit the space, then you should be in good shape.
Speed Does NOT Equal Results
While getting a website online as fast as possible might be convenient in the short term, it does not mean you’re going to see results quickly. As you can imagine, there is more to web design than just uploading a few pictures and pasting some text into a template.
Many business owners enjoy the DIY website builder process but are disappointed when they don’t see new customers coming into their office saying they found you online. After many hours or weeks of website editing, many business owners find out the hard way that not all websites are created equal.
The most beautiful website in the world can’t generate new customers if it can’t be found by the people looking for it or if it doesn’t provide a great user experience. Here are just a few of the very important web design and search engine optimization (SEO) elements that website builders can’t do for you:
- Monitor and fix user and mobile experience issues
- Create lead generation strategies
- Keyword research and targeting
- Title optimization
- Local schema
- Image optimization
- Meta description optimization
- Google Analytics & Tag Manager integration
- Sitemap creation
- Submit the website to the major search engines
- And more…
Why Hire a Web Designer? (Besides Professional Design, of Course)
When hiring a professional web designer, you should expect the overall quality of your website to be higher.
A great website designer will take the time to understand your business, not just the niche you are in but also what is unique about YOUR business, and then design and build a website that’s customized to you. This is very different than having to stuff your business into a predesigned and predetermined box. Also, if you’ve ever tried to use Photoshop or design any type of images for a website, you know how hard and time consuming it can be. Great images and designs will take your business to the next level and immediately create a higher level of trust with your potential customers.
Professional web design will make your business look unique and professional, helping it stand out from the crowd while still being functional and user friendly.
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Free web builders may offer speed and convenience, but they can’t offer unique design to specifically fit and market your business. They also can’t work with you one-on-one to create lead generation opportunities and other digital strategies, like SEO, to drive more traffic to your website.
Let’s assume for a minute that you built a nice looking website using a web builder service. That’s great news, but it doesn’t mean anything if Google doesn’t know your website exists or doesn’t have enough faith in it to show your business off to its users. For example, let’s say you run a small business called “Dave’s Martial Arts” in Chicago. Your self-built website will likely come up in search results for “Dave’s Martial Arts,” but how likely is it that someone would search for that exact term? They are more likely to search “martial arts Chicago” or something similar if they’re not quite sure what they’re looking for. The people that you want to find your website probably won’t be able to unless they already know who you are.
That is not a great way to generate new business online.
When building your website you’re going to need to account for people who find products and services based on location. As more and more searches go mobile, search engines are using your location to deliver geo targeted results. “Dave’s Martial Arts” could be a few blocks from where a potential customer is searching, but if the SEO is not set up correctly on the website, and information like name, address, and phone number (NAP) are not easily found, the potential customer may never find you through an online search.
One of the many benefits of hiring a professional web designer is that they should understand how to maximize local SEO so your business comes up in a variety of Google searches. You will still need to work on your local listings and citations but having great on-site SEO is a huge head start.
Tips for Hiring a Web Designer
If you’d like your business to look professional, get found online easily, and start generating business for you from day one, then we recommend talking with some professional web designers. Start by doing a Google search for “Web Design in [your city, state]” (replace [your city, state] with the city and state you live in).
Most web designers will charge a one-time cost to custom design and build your website. You can expect the cost to be a minimum of $2,000.00 and can go up to $10,000.00 or more, depending on your specific business needs and they type of web designer you contacted. Keep in mind that large advertising agencies will always cost more than local boutique agencies. These prices will not include any ongoing SEO or the domain name (youbusiness.com) and web hosting (where your website will be stored), which you’ll most likely be responsible for supplying (don’t worry if you don’t know how to get those, the web designer should be able to help you through the process).
That is the traditional option but if that doesn’t sound right for you then search around for other solutions. There are other web design service options and models available.
Regardless of which path you choose, remember that it is 2017 and your customers are looking online for the solutions to the problems that your business can fix. If they can’t find you online then you are missing out on real customers and real opportunities. You need to start investing in your business’s online presence.