Why You Should NOT Hire A Website Designer

Last updated on February 15, 2017

Why Not Hire Website DesignerWhat I’m about to say is going to annoy some people – but I feel strongly that it has to be said as I’ve made this costly mistake before.

You don’t have to hire a website designer – at all.

“How DARE you say website designers are pointless… how DARE you!!”

Take a number sir (or ma’am) – my wife is a website designer so she gets first dibs to whack me over the head with her Chanel bag (a rusty screwdriver isn’t her style… she’s a designer, after all.)

I really don’t have a death wish – so just hear me out.

I want to tell you a quick (and tragic) story about Steve:

Steve hates his 9 to 5 job.

“Life HAS to be better than THIS.” He keeps telling himself.

On an average day, he needs an IV to constantly drip caffeine into his veins just so he can make it through the day.

He read about how a lot of people got OUT of the rat race by starting an online business.  Out of sheer desperation, he decided to give this website thing a go.

The first thing Steve sets out to do is to hire a web designer to build the most awesome website he could afford, which was $3,000.

After a month and a half of back-and-forths with his designer, he finally unveils his spanking new, custom designed website. He has NO DOUBT that his one-of-a-kind website will get the traffic and sales he paid for!

Months past, no sales — People could barely find his website in Google!

Steve is so confused — “My website design is more expensive and better looking than any of my competitors! Their websites look like something from the 90’s and don’t have any of the cool features my website has! Why am I not getting any sales or traffic?”

This is a very common story that many failed online entrepreneurs share.

Now, the sad thing is, that was us!

That was us back in 2010 when we failed at our very first online business venture.

Here’s the stone cold truth — it was not our website design’s fault. It’s was OUR fault.  It still pains me to tell you our story…

So, why did we fail?

There is SO MUCH to building a successful online business.  Things like understanding what potential customers really want, content marketing, paid advertisements, sales funnels, conversion optimization, search engine optimization, and so much more.

All of these take time and dedication to learn and to experiment with.

Out of all the confusion, website design seemed to be the one thing we can control and accomplish now. We can throw money at a website designer and get it done with minimal work on our end.

So, like scared little kids, we hid behind our custom designed website and prayed to the internet gods that our website will auto-magically start getting traffic and generate a million bucks — HUGE mistake.

Go ahead and laugh at us… we sure deserve it!

This is why I don’t want YOU to make the same mistakes as we did.

I’m not saying that website designers have no place in the world of website building – they certainly do and they can play a big part.

I’m saying that there is a right TIME to hire website designers – and it’s not when you are just starting out with your business.

 

What’s The Point of Good Design If Your Business Idea Suck?

A good looking website can help you promote your brand and increase the confidence of your website visitors in your business.

Not to mention a well-designed layout can improve your visitors’ experience.

A beautiful website makes your business look more legitimate.

If you visited a store in the mall that looked messy and painful to the eye, your first (and lasting) impression is that the store is probably no good.

Quick to judge? That’s just human nature and I’m just being honest about it (and so should you!)

So good design works… but ONLY if your BUSINESS works.

 

The Tail Wagging The Dog

Have you heard of these phrases?

“The tail wagging the dog.”

Or

“Putting the cart before the horse.”

They sound a bit comedic and will make the worst movies EVER.

But there are refreshing truths in these funny sounding sayings.

They basically mean placing important things in the wrong order.

website Design software - cart horse

The dog should be wagging its tail, and the horse should be in front of the cart.

Why on earth would you consider spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a custom website design, BEFORE knowing for SURE that your business can make money?

Doesn’t that sound equally as silly as the tail wagging the dog?

Listen, there is a right time to splurge money and energy into design. But it must be AFTER you know people will pay you for your products or services – regardless of whether your website looks just okay, or if it’s award winning.

You can’t build a long-term, viable business purely relying on the sexiness of your website.

If that’s your only competitive edge, someone else will throw even more money at their website and “out-sexy” yours (terrible choice of words, I know).

If that’s your strategy, I’m sorry to say, your business will suffer a very tragic death.

This is such an important message we’ve suffered through ourselves, so I’m going to say it again….

Your business foundation is not built on its website design. So don’t deploy your savings on something that is not “mission-critical”.

Your website design only has to be good enough – for now. I’ll expand on this below.

Instead, focus your time, energy and money on mission-critical tasks, such as:

  • Talking to your potential customers to understand what problems the really need solving – not what YOU think they need solving. Really listen to what they have to say and try not to be biased to your own views.
  • Developing your products / services to solve their problems.
  • Promoting your products / services.
  • Learning how to communicate better to resonate with your target customers (if you can’t convince them you can solve their problems, you’ll have a hard time succeeding).

These tasks, in my view, are WAY more important than how your website looks.

Listen – I’m not giving you permission to have a nasty looking website. That’s not my point.

What I’m saying is that your website just has to look good enough, so you can allocate more resources to building your business (instead of your website).

There are actually ways to have a good (but not the best) looking website that works – WITHOUT spending more than $30 – $50….

 

How To Start With A Good Looking Website
Without Dipping into Your Retirement Funds

I want you to understand that a website is just a tool. That’s it.

Your website is NOT your business. Your business is what you can offer to your target customers to actually solve their problems.

Your website is just a communication tool – period.

If you can’t offer a good product / service that can actually solve problems, it doesn’t matter what your website looks like at the end of the day.

Now that I’ve beaten this horse to a miserable death, let’s talk about how to move forward.

So how do you build a website quickly, easily and cheaply, and have a design that’s good enough to get the job done?

Not too long ago, you’d have to hire a designer or a coder to help you build a website (unless you don’t mind spending the time to learn how to code and all the technical items that come with website building).

Nowadays, you actually don’t have to know how to code, nor worry about all the technical back-end headaches to have a good looking and functional website.

There are website builders out there that empower you to “drag and drop” your way to your first website, and give you a broad range of free design templates to help your website look presentable, or “good enough”.

Why Not Hire Website Designer - drag & drop

These website builders are very affordable, and most of them are even free for you to use (with options to upgrade to access more features).

For their paid plans, they roughly range from $5 per month to $20 per month (for non-ecommerce plans), and from $25 up to $299 for ecommerce focused plans (though you should be starting at the $25 per month plan, and only migrate up if you get a lot of sales).

They provide you with 24/7 dedicated support, and they’re quite easy to use you can even publish the first version of your website in less than a day.

Doesn’t this sound much more appetizing than hiring a designer for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and wait at least a month before you have something published?

Not to mention the stressful hiring process, and wondering if you’ve made the right choice.

Why not Hire Website Designer - templates

Website builders offer you free, professional looking design templates. Click to see these from Wix

Okay, I know I’m making these drag & drop website builders sound like they have halos on top of their heads and they can do no wrong.

To be fair, they do have limitations and they can’t do everything.

The point here is, while there is a chance you may eventually grow out of these drag & drop website builders, they are good enough to build most if not all startup websites.

Some drag & drop builders even have the capability to handle growing websites, and it is absolutely possible to run a successful and mature business with them.

With these drag & drop website builders, if you change your mind, you can easily “cut your losses” so to speak, be “out” maybe $50 (and a bit of your time of course).

It’s all about risk management – especially when you are first starting out with a limited budget.

 

Drag & Drop Website Builders – Helping You Build A Website Without Breaking The Bank

Let’s quickly summarize why using a drag & drop website builder makes sense for you if you are in the beginning phase of your business.

  • You can launch a “good enough” website in less than a day – so you won’t get bogged down by technology and wait weeks of months to have something up and running.
  • You can allocate more of your budget, time and energy to other more “mission-critical” tasks such as product development, researching your target market, marketing your products / services, etc.
  • You can make changes to your website on the fly, instead of waiting for or relying on someone else to make those changes.
  • You can manage your financial risks as these website builders are not expensive at all.

My own general rule of thumb is that if you are not yet generating positive NET cash flows of around $1,000 and higher per month, you fall within this beginning phase.

If you are making some level of cash flow below $1,000 per month, my own view is that you should reinvest the cash into your business that’s NOT design related.

For instance, consider hiring a part-time helper to take some mundane, non-productive tasks away from your hands.

Even something as simple as a helper to clean your house can save you hours per week. It’s not just time that you are saving, it’s mental and physical energy that you can re-channel towards your business.

That’s just a random example and I’m sure you can think of many other less productive tasks you’d prefer to outsource.

Back to website builders.

Without further ado, here are the top website builders in the market today.

 

#1 Shopify – Best eCommerce Website Builder

Shopify makes setting an online store super simple.

Typically, most ecommerce websites have to be self-hosted, meaning you will have to manage all of the technical tasks of building a storefront. You’d have to know how to code and play the role of your own “IT manager” just to piece together different selling functions.

Not with Shopify – they’ve simplified the entire process for you.

Why not Hire Website Designer - Shopify

Click to see Shopify

Here’s what I like about Shopify:

  • They are a “hosted solution” – all you need to do is sign in with your email address and they take care of the rest for you (such as keeping your site secure, configuring and optimizing your servers, integrating all the selling tools and shopping cart for you so you don’t have to piece them together).
  • They offer you attractive storefront designs – so you don’t need to hire anyone to customize anything for you.
  • 24/7 phone, email and live chat support!  That’s like having a full-time technical team working for you!

It’s no surprise that Shopify is the best ecommerce builder in the market today.

More than 377,500 merchants are paying Shopify to power their storefronts (here are some examples), and Shopify has helped process over $29 billion dollars worth of sales – that’s about $76,821 per merchant.

I really like Shopify as you can launch a basic version of your store in less than a day.

Now, it won’t be the best version of your store, but it will be functional.

You can continue to improve it – but the key point is that you don’t have to wait weeks or months, and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for someone to put it together for you!

You are in control, and Shopify’s support team is there to back you up.

As it is a dedicated, pure ecommerce builder, the monthly cost for building an online store starts at $29 per month. As your business grows larger (generates more cash), you can upgrade to higher plans.

If your business doesn’t work out, or if you change your mind for whatever reason, you can always stop using Shopify. It’s a lot less costly than hiring a web designer right off the bat.

Don’t you think this is a much safer way to build your business?

Shopify Review – click here to see our detailed pros & cons of using Shopify

Hosted vs Self-Hosted eCommerce Builders – find out more about the differences between them

Try Shopify Free For 14 Days

 

#2 Wix – Best Overall Website Builder

In my view, Wix is the best overall drag & drop website builder that enables you to build a fully functional website without you having to write a line of code.

More than 100 million websites have been built with Wix thus far, and they have over 2.47 million paid users to date.

Having a lot of paying customers is the ultimate testimonial to how good a product is – and Wix is definitely the industry leader here.

Why not hire Website Designer - Wix

Click to see Wix

Wix offers you more than 500 beautifully designed templates that cater to a wide range of industries such as business, ecommerce, photography, music, design, hospitality, restaurants, etc. So they have designs for almost everyone.

Here are some examples of websites built with Wix.

Here’s what we like about them:

  • By far the most innovative website builder amongst its competitors – always adding new tools and features (click here to see their latest additions).
  • Their designs are also very up-to-date with the latest design trends – you can build 1-pager parallax designs, insert background videos, create different background sections, all without knowing how to code. Click here to see them in action.
  • Wix’s pro-activeness to innovate is a huge plus if you want a website builder that has a proven history of investing in continuous improvements.

You can use Wix for free for an unlimited time. However, to unlock more features and tools, their pricing starts from $4.50 per month up to $24.50 per month.

The financial investment is very manageable and reasonable.

Wix Review – click here to see our detailed pros & cons of using Wix

Try Wix For Free

 

#3 Squarespace – Best Designs

Squarespace is a very design-oriented website builder and can make your website look as if you spent thousands of dollars in customizing it (but only costs you a fraction of that).

If your business require a website that is more imagery-oriented, and you want something minimalistic, clean and chic, definitely consider Squarespace.

Why not Hire Website designer - Squarespace

Click to see Squarespace

They work particularly well for industries such as design / portfolio, photography, boutique businesses, restaurants and weddings / occasions.

Here are some examples of websites built with Squarespace.

Here’s what I like about Squarespace:

  • Very design orientedtheir design templates gives people the impression that you hired a professional website designer, but you actually didn’t have to!
  • Gives you an active role in crafting the look & feel of your website – Squarespace gives you the ability to make a lot of design modifications without touching codes.

Although you can’t use Squarespace indefinitely for free (like Wix above), you get a 14-day free trial period before you need to make a decision to subscribe to their services.

Generally speaking, you only need a few hours to get a good feel of whether you like them or not. The rest of the time is for you to explore their tools in detail.

So if you don’t get a good vibe from them right off the bat, you can easily move on to trying another website builder without making any further commitments.

Squarespace’s monthly plans range from $5 to $18. If you want ecommerce tools, their plans range from $26 to $40 per month.

So again, they’re not asking you for a massive financial commitment at all.

This gives you more budget (and time and energy) to work on other parts of your business.

Squarespace Review – click here to see our detailed pros & cons of using Squarespace

Try Squarespace Free For 14 Days

 

#4 Weebly – Easiest to Use

Weebly is the most user-friendly drag & drop website builder in the market today.

They’re what I would call “stupid simple to use.” The user interface so intuitive, you can literally learn almost everything about how to use Weebly in less than an hour.

However, this also means they don’t have as many advanced features and tools (like Wix above).

For some people (especially those who are deathly afraid of technology), it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.

Why Not Hire Website Designer - Weebly

Click to see Weebly

Weebly also offers you some decent looking templates to get you started. They don’t look as good as those from Wix and Squarespace, they’ve come a long way in terms of improvement and we expect them to get even better in the near future.

Remember, you can always improve on your web design later – after you’ve established that people are more than happy to pay for your products or services.

Here are a few things we like about Weebly:

  • Drop dead easy to use – I’ve seen older folks build decent websites with Weebly. It’s almost like learning how to use iPhones – it almost feels natural and effortless.
  • Access to design codes – If you know a bit of code, you can actually access your design to make customizations. Of course, this is not necessary, but it’s an added flexibility down the road when you want to take your design to the next level.

Just like Wix, you can use Weebly for free without any time limitations. If you want to access more tools, you can upgrade to one of their premium plans.

Their monthly plans start at $8 and goes up to $49 per month (for more ecommerce & marketing focused tools).

Again, Weebly is very affordable when compared to committing to hundreds or thousands of dollars to hire a website designer.

Similar to Wix or Squarespace, Weebly enables you to build a good looking website all by yourself, quickly and easily. There really isn’t any downside in giving these drag and drop website builders a try.

Weebly Review – click here to see our detailed pros & cons of using Weebly

Try Weebly For Free

 

When is the Right Time to Hire A Website Designer or Developer?

As I mentioned above, I’m not against hiring a professional designer or developer to help you build an awesome website.

Not at all.

The key message I hope you understand, is that there is a right time for this, and a wrong time for this.

What’s the wrong time?

  • That’s when you are still trying to get the business off the ground. When you are still trying to validate / prove to yourself that a lot of people are happy to pay you for your products / services.
  • If you can’t even establish that there is a healthy market for your product or services, then you don’t have a business yet.

Sounds sensible and simple, right?

You have no idea how many people get it all backward and put the “cart in front of the horse.”

I don’t blame them one bit, though, as we’ve committed the same mistake before, so I don’t want to be a hypocrite here.

In retrospect, when we first started, we were so unsure of whether our business will succeed or not, that we actively looked for things that can give us an easier win – something that we can fully control.

Building what we thought was the best-looking website was a much easier win and something fully within our control, than asking people to pay us for our products.

We had egos, and we didn’t want people to say “no” to us and feel rejected.

Rejection is a scary thing to face. Wouldn’t you agree?

I used to hate doing squats at the gym. I know I should do it, but I found myself loitering around the gym, working on exercises that I know I’m already good at.

Why?

It’s a way to convince myself that I’ve done something so I feel marginally good about it.

Same thing with designing a website. The likelihood of feeling rejected really isn’t there.

You also feel fully in control as you’re paying a designer to create things for you.

If you had a great looking website design, people won’t criticize you for that.

But if you had a poor product offering, people won’t pay for it and that feels like a major rejection.

So I understand why people are more enthusiastic about building a nice looking website, BEFORE focusing on building a real business.

The right time to focus on your website design is after you achieve net positive cash flow above and beyond $1,000 per month. Of course, you can set your goal a bit higher at $2,000 or more, but I’m just suggesting $1,000 as a starting point.

By hitting the $1,000 net positive cash flow per month mark, it will give you more confidence (and momentum) that you have a real business at hand.

Making $1,000 (after paying for expenses) is no easy task. It requires you to be laser focused on understanding what your target customers want, and delivering a solid product / service to meet their needs.

Getting to that level is what you ought to be focused on – not how your website looks.

Once you become net cash flow positive, this opens up more options and flexibility for you and your business. You can then consider what can grow your business even more.

Hire help? Spend more on marketing? Invest in courses / knowledge? Improve your website design?

With positive cash flows – you have options.

If you blow all your savings on a website design without making a dime in return, you’ll be left with no options.

Once you’re cash flow positive, and you decide to hire a professional designer or developer to improve your website, here is our comprehensive guide on how to hire a designer or developer – the right way.

 

Helpful Resources / Guides So You Can Do Some Design Work Yourself

I know. After all this discussion, sometimes it’s still really hard to resist hiring designers as there are a lot more to constructing a website than using website builders.

What about things like designing logos, editing images, finding the right images, how to pick fonts, etc?

Fear not, we’ve put together some guides on how you can do all this – even if you don’t have a head for design.

These guides will break things down into actionable steps (with recommended, easy-to-use tools), so anyone can get decent results:

Helpful Guides:

Building a good looking website doesn’t have to be so daunting. You now have most of the tools / guides to building something amazing yourself!

 

Conclusion & Take Away

To build a viable business, you need to focus on the right things.

There are many temptations to focus on things that you can control, such as how your website looks.

It’s far easier to throw money at a website designer to build an awesome looking website.

But does that actually help prove out or validate your business concept? Does it demonstrate to you that you can earn profits by selling products or services to complete random strangers?

Sadly no.

To build a successful business, you will HAVE to ask people to open their wallets and buy your product / service offerings. There is absolutely no way around this.

Whether they will pay for your products / services, is not directly determined by how your website looks. It’s determined by whether what you offer can solve a real problem.

If what you offer does not solve a real, painful problem, then it will be extremely challenging for you to build a vibrant business – regardless if you have an award winning website design or not.

If anything, I want you to take away this key message:

Your website is just a tool for your business. Your website is NOT your business.

Focus on building your business (understanding your target customers’ problems, developing your product to solve those problems), start earning net profits, then focus on improving your web design later.

Once you start earning profits, a whole new world of possibilities and flexibility open up to you.

Found This Guide Helpful?

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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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39 Responses to Why You Should NOT Hire A Website Designer

  1. #

    I find this information to be quite helpful. My husband and I are siting here having a heated debate about paying several thousand dollars to have someone develop a website when I am just starting out and trying to sell myself as an independent contractor to districts. I don’t understand how paying a “professional” web designer a lot of money I don’t have, to help me sell my business when all I need to do is submit RFP’s and my cover letter, with a business card. As I expand and do this on my own for a few years, and my need expands, then I can see investing in something like a “professional” web designer.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Jackie,

      I think that’s a sensible approach. It’s usually better to establish your business first (primary goal) before hiring help to build a custom website (secondary goal), especially if your business doesn’t necessarily need a custom website.

      If anything, drag and drop website builders enable you to build your own website without having to hire anyone. Once you get your business off the ground, then you have options to build a custom website, if that’s what you still want to do.

      Jeremy

  2. #

    WIX or WordPress and why? I have always used WordPress but am new to all this really. Please advise and thanks.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Olga,

      We have a Wix vs WordPress comparison guide that you might find helpful here.

      Generally speaking, if you are very proficient with using WordPress and have some basic coding knowledge, WordPress is a very powerful and flexible platform to build your websites if you don’t mind the extra administrative work that comes with using WordPress (such as managing your hosting service, update your plugins and checking that the updates didn’t “break” your website, etc).

      But if you don’t want to manage all that admin work, and if you don’t want a website builder that is more technical to use, then drag and drop website builders such as Wix is an excellent choice.

      Jeremy

  3. #

    Thank you! This article was just what I needed to read today. It was full of helpful information! Best, Lucy

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks for your comment, Lucy. I’m glad this discussion is helpful to you.

      Good luck with building your website!

      Jeremy

  4. #

    This Guide was very helpful for me, even if i am not a native english speaking person.
    I did a lot of wordpress stuff before but now i am sure for my business i will give wix a try

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thank you, Sebastian. I’m glad this guide was helpful to you.

      Jeremy

  5. #

    Jeremy,

    Happy Holidays and coming from a revenue first website builder like me your absolutely correct. Personal Branding, Marketing and Online Advertising cost and until you know you have a positive cash flow you can’t do things like a/b testing to narrow down your target audience. You can engage sites like 99designs to design and help you with things like logos and images as my most recent client sent me all the content and all we had to do was build and place content to conform with a great UI/UX concept for each device.

    Running an IT Management Company allows me the opportunity to build and not be involved in the design phase. Like you say, there is more to building a site than anyone designer knows…..especially setting up things like Google Webmaster Tools, Adsense & AdManager accounts, Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, Office 365 etc;… When you build a site your goal is to increase conversions and generate leads, not just look good! Good article and I hope places like Mopro see this and understand your point of view like I do.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks for your comment, Patrick.

      Building a business is indeed challenging with a lot of moving parts.

      One thing I’ve learned is to do the research and layout out everything I need to do to build a business, then prioritize.

      It’s impractical to do everything all at once and often end up not accomplishing anything – based on my own experience anyway. So prioritizing and focusing on those top priorities is critical.

      Plans will always change and it’s perfectly okay to make course corrections along the way. When we first started out, we tried to create the “perfect” roadmap and it just prevented us from getting started.

      So my advice to people just getting started is to just get started and making updates along the way.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Jeremy

  6. #

    Good article Jeremy. Building a website that works is no simple task regardless of the platform you use. When I hear marketing catch phrases “build a high quality website in minutes” I often shake my head and think “how?”. This is where I believe companies often make mistakes – assuming its simple and a developer will sort it out for them. LOTS of thought needs to go into a website before you even think about touching a line of code. These are some of the pre-requisites from personal experience that are required.

    1) Have a business plan – what are you selling, what are you doing better than everyone else

    2) What is your business brand – who are you selling to – what is your market demographic?

    2) What online functionality do you want now and 3 years from now

    3) Are backups important? Ability to migrate to faster platforms? Are page revisions important?

    4) Is your site competing against others in the field? Does your website have to dominate the other competitors in both looks, performance, SEO – and or functionality?

    5) Is security important? (ie are personal details stored on the site)

    6) is the site something you want to update yourself? Or partially update yourself?

    7) What happens if your site goes down. How critical is it to the day to day function of your business.

    And many more points need consideration. Many start-ups wont even think about these things when designing a site. But every element challenges what platform you should use in the short and long term. Many established businesses go through checklists like the above when selecting a platform. And in many instances WordPress ticks most of the boxes for an established working business – sometimes it doesn’t. BUT when you trust your business decisions to a 25 year old programmer/graphic artist who has had no business experience – they cannot comprehend or guide you through these things – and as you say – its not their fault, they will build as directed. I feel sorry for many web developers as often they are implied to know the above by the start-ups. Rarely is this the case. And picking the right platform can change based on business position. For example its fine to start on wix/weebly – then you might decide its time to dominate your market and add functionality with faster speed, more functionality and choose another platform. Its not uncommon for businesses to re-build their site every 2-3 years.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Very thoughtful comment, Ray. Thank you for taking the time to share this with all of us!

      Jeremy

  7. #

    This is good information – as an Online Marketing and Web Designer/Developer, this article scares me. However, the points are good – I don’t want start-up’s coming to my door and asking me how to be a start-up, or how to structure their business. Some of the most important questions I ask new clients revolve around their current sales process. However, my job is based on making money for companies and people by using their website – which is a primary marketing tool. As well as Google, Bing, Social Media etc.

    One of the biggest mistakes I see all the time is that they did in fact spend all this money on a website – but then have no idea how to make the website work for them, and neither do the designers. There’s much confusion on the term Web Designer, in my world a web designer is someone who beautifies a website. A developer is someone who makes it work right, and a marketer is someone who makes it produce results.

    For new businesses, I do agree with your assessment. However, for better established businesses, who have a defined product, a place in the industry, they should have their website made professionally, and then marketing professionally.

    Thanks

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your input. Always good to hear professional input.

      I think the point of this discussion, as you pointed out, is to inform new business operators that there are other options out there. Building a business could be a confusing (yet exciting) journey, so this guide offers readers the option of reducing financial and time commitment upfront (at least temporarily until they prove out their business model and start generating positive cash flows)

      But I agree with you 100%, once the business is proven to “work”, then the business operator can look to redeploying the earned profits into something that can grow the business substantially (be it a on marketing, new website infrastructure, new design, hiring employees, etc).

      We have another discussion piece on how to hire a web designer or developer here. It’s dedicated to readers whose businesses are in the “growth” phase.

      Thanks for adding to this discussion!

      Jeremy

  8. #

    Hello Jeremy,
    Fabio here from Brazil.

    Thanks for the article. Your point is very clear! I’ve made two websites with WIX and have considered it a very nice platform. I didn’t know Squarespace. I’m now using Adobe Muse. I was wondering if you could comment on it (muse) and compare it with the others. Also, what about wordpress?

    Thank you

    Fabio

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Fabio,

      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, we haven’t used Adobe Muse extensively so we don’t have any concrete or meaningful comments about them.

      I can say is that their user interface is more like Photoshop, so it can be confusing for some people. But given that you’ve had experiences with Wix, I’m sure you know what I’m referring to.

      As for WordPress, it’s a very powerful and flexible platform, but it does have drawbacks. We have a guide comparing Wix and WordPress here.

      Jeremy

  9. #

    Hello Jeremy,
    Interesting article and great points, however I must disagree with you on few matters.

    First a professional designer does not and should not just build websites. The designer should guide the client on discovering their audience/clients, the designer should build a website that has great semantic code (i.e. seo friendly), he or she should help the client with the marketing (point out few resources) and most of all the designer should be transparent and offer support. Also the designer should give the client options such as pricing levels.
    Telling clients to get WIX or another self service site might be good for the tech savy, however the question is how much would they get charged when something goes wrong and they can’t fix it.

    Furthermore one question: Do you take your car to the mechanic or you try to fix it your self?

    Some points from the clients perspective (I have build my own sites also for my eCommerce business)

    How much is the time worth to the client? Should the client focus on the business side or spend enormous amount of time learning to code?

    How about the client gets beat of the both worlds. Customized website and affordable.

    The designer is there to help the client get the best money can buy without bankrupting the client.

    Sorry to hear that your designer ripped you off.

    Cheers.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Zengo,

      Good and very valid points.

      I think the point of this article is to start a discussion and to let people know that they don’t “have” to hire a designer. Hiring a designer is not the only option they have.

      There are, of course, good designers and bad designers. Good designers are well worth the investment, but based on my own experiences, I see far more bad designers out there as the barrier to entry is very low (anyone could call him/herself a “good” designer). You can’t just get a business license, lease a physical location, spend tens and thousands of dollars into tools and supplies and call yourself a mechanic. But you can spend a few hundred dollars and call yourself a designer on the internet – there is absolutely no regulations against or regulatory oversight on that.

      Further, a lot of people become paralyzed by the prospect of hiring someone to build a website for them. It’s scary, challenging and time consuming.

      This is further compounded if one was starting an unproven business. Dedicating thousands of dollars in hiring a web designer just isn’t realistic for a lot of folks. I’m not saying not to hire a designer at all, but there is a place and time for that piece of investment.

      In my view, the key to starting a business is to focus on product or service to customer match. Financial and mental resources should be dedicated to that aspect, so using a drag & drop website builder such as Wix or Weebly, or a hosted ecommerce builder such as Shopify enables an entrepreneur to get a website up and running in far less time and financial commitment than hiring a designer.

      Once the business concept is proven, it’s definitely worth considering the prospect of consulting a good web designer.

      Thanks for adding to this discussion!

      Jeremy

  10. #

    This is epic. Thank you so much for posting all this information!!!! It’s been extremely helpful.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks for your thoughts, Krystina. Glad you found this discussion helpful!

      Jeremy

  11. #

    Hi Jeremy,
    Thank you for a great article. What site builder would you recommend for a email capture feature and an autoreponder? Also, do sites like wix have a feature to link to another site? I have a replicated site that I sell products from and would like to build my own so I can offer other things, but still have a way for visitors to access the product purchase page from my replicated site.
    TIA for your reply!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Claudine,

      You can certainly use a few dedicated auto-responders to help you send out newsletters. Service such as Aweber or Mailchimp are pretty good.

      But these auto-responders are not part of website builders so you’d have to integrate them together. It’s not very difficult to do so, but just keep that in mind.

      There are a couple of website builders that have their own built-in newsletter distribution tools:

      Wix Shoutout

      Weebly Promote

      These newsletter tools are fully integrated with the website builders so it’s a bit easier for users.

      You can definitely link out to another website using Wix. Just use the standard hyperlink tool to link text, pictures or even a menu bar item to another website.

      Jeremy

      • #

        Thank you Jeremy!

  12. #

    Hi Jeremy

    I had a read through the article. Some interesting points you have there. I think I am 50/50 on what you say though. I agree that you should have a really good understanding of your business before we do a website. Most of the companies we have worked with in the past did not even have a company profile, so when it came time for them to tell us more about what they do and who their ideal customer is, they had no idea!

    The most important part of a website designers job is the back end and SEO. This is where websites are set apart from a good design to a great website. There is absolutely no point in you designing the website yourself, putting all the time and effort into it when it will never be found online because you haven’t taken the time to do key wording, H1 headers, website titling etc.

    When you do speak to someone about doing your website, make sure they take the time to tell you how Google actually works. If they don’t know, you are wasting your time with them. Free website builders save the bank, but they waste your time if you will never appear on Google. The question is which is more valuable to you, time or money?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comments and thoughts. You also have some very valid points!

      Considering most people have limited resources such as time, money, mental bandwidth, energy, etc, it’s important to explore what’s more valuable (as you pointed out).

      I think what we tried to do through this discussion article is to raise awareness and open up this discussion. Unfortunately, a lot of people bought into the “script” that certain things must be done in certain ways, such as “WordPress is the ONLY way to build a proper website!” or “Your business will not succeed if you don’t hire a designer or developer because you cannot do it yourself!”

      We once bought into that script, too!

      And an important point is that a business is not always defined by how its website looks (in most industries anyway).

      I also agree that it’s helpful to hire someone who understands SEO, but I personally feel that a lot of people also misunderstand SEO (we get a lot questions pertaining to why their websites are not showing up in search results after a few weeks of getting the website set up, even though they’ve done the basic setups that you mentioned in your comment). That also motivated us to write this discussion about SEO here.

      I think there are no right / wrong answers to this big topic. There are many different ways to approach this and our discussion above is largely driven by our own experiences and views.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and to add to this discussion!

      Jeremy

  13. #

    Thank you for this well-written summary! I have been using Weebly with my classes–there is a education.weebly.com just for that–and the ease of use is a real bonus. I have to say that there is a lack of website buiding sites for education use; themes are mostly business orientated and I haven’t run across any education-specific set ups. It’s too bad: there is a large demand for making websites specific to edu needs such as staff development or resource sharing. For example, I can’t get a calendar with staff-selectable timeslots for booking a computer cart on any diy builder! A real field to develop!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Dan,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts! I’m aware that Weebly caters to education institutions, but unfortunately they don’t have any education specific tools. I suppose they’re catering to students who are learning how to build “general” websites, and so they don’t have education tools. Hopefully they will create a education-focused version of Weebly, that’s tailored specifically for education institutions!

      Jeremy

  14. #

    This is so so helpful and very timely advice for me who was aboutbto make the biggest mistake you have raljed sbout here. Putting the horse before the cart!! Thank you, thank youbthank you. Sincerely. Great article! Must share. And i will

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks, Padmaja. I’m glad this article is helpful to you!

      Jeremy

  15. #

    Amazing article, thank you for the comprehensive insight. You may have saved me thousands 🙂 And from a business point of view I agree that ‘tomorrow never comes’ if you are banking on tomorrow being critical.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Ian,

      Glad our discussions are helpful to you!

      Jeremy

  16. #

    i have use wix. i like it a lot. But the biggest problem is they are blocked by China firewall. You cant access it in China. I haven’t try other builder yet. So when you have time, can you do a topic on accessibility of these website in different part of the world?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Ryan,

      Yeah that’s a bummer and I’m not entirely sure why certain website builders are blocked by the Chinese firewall. But from what I’ve heard (I have some western friends working or have worked in China), it’s quite popular for people to use VPNs to access blocked websites (such as Facebook, etc).

      So I guess if you are targeting a lot of locals, they may or may not use VPNs. But my impression is that a lot of people are – though I don’t have any data to back that up.

      Jeremy

  17. #

    Hi Jeremy,

    I am truly a fan of yours and I have been reading so many of your articles. I am in dire need of a new web site and I have read this article SEVERAL times. I have had my small business since 1990 and the current web site we have is old and quite archaic. I want to start fresh with a new site and I do not have the time to build it and manage it myself. I need a much more robust site and I am willing to hire someone but I really don’t know where to begin. I have been researching and scouring the Internet for several weeks now as well as talking to a couple of companies that have quoted me in a couple of cases astronomical fees. I not only have a service business (We print and embroider garments in-house) and we have a brick and mortal storefront in addition to our e-commerce site and POS events. I need someone to work with us who is familiar with the T-shirt industry and T-shirt quote systems as well as on-line T-shirt designers integration. I designed a web page in Adobe Illustrator but I need someone to work with me and handle everything necessary to launch. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.

    Oh,BTW, I did have a conversation with a rep from toptal.com and I quote from them, “I don’t think you need to build an entirely new site, but I think you’ll need a developer and possible a designer to get what you’re looking for depending on the different integrations UX. I don’t know what UX is without googling it LOL. At any rate, I was told that what I needed would be too expensive for me to consider them.

    Thanks for reading this long post.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Audrey,

      Thanks for your comment and yes – I read your entire comment!

      I think the point of this article is to take a step back, and consider what is more valuable to you. It basically comes down to money vs time.

      If you have time, but not much money, then using a DIY website builder is a productive way to go. The same goes for having some money, but not much time.

      If you already have a cash flowing business, and can re-invest with a designer / developer, then that’s an option to consider. But as you said, finding good help that understands your business can be quite a journey.

      Have you consider speaking with a Shopify expert? Shopify is in my view, the best hosted ecommerce builder in the market today. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the experts for hire have some experiences with your line of business.

      Just to be clear, when I say “Shopify Experts”, they don’t work for Shopify, Rather, they are a group of developers / designers who are very proficient with Shopify, and are pre-screened by Shopify prior to being listed on their website.

      They may not be cheap, but since they are very specialized with building Shopify powered stores, their insights and the value they bring to the table might be worth the investment.

      We have an article talking more about them here.

      Good luck!

      Jeremy

    • #

      As well, i would just like to point out, there are many web designers starting out who would build a website for little to no cost. It could be a hit or miss with some so it’s best to get them to send a few examples of what they can accomplish. But a lot of them are just looking to build up their portfolio. If you check places like LinkedIn you should be able to find a few!

      • Jeremy Wong
        #

        A very good point, Daniel. Thanks for adding to this discussion.

        Sometimes it’s a trade off between paying up for a veteran who is skilled in building websites, versus paying someone on the lower side of the price range who is trying to build up his/her portfolio credentials.

        If you get a bit lucky, you can find an outstanding person who is just starting out, to help you build your website on the cheaper side! You just never know.

        Jeremy

  18. #

    Hi Jeremy
    Francisco from Honduras, awesome article…
    Which website builder would you recommend to best use or to construct a webpage that rents space to professionals or self-employers to sell their services…
    I have been thinking on this idea for the past five years, and is about time that I go in… I have NO experience in websites… neither technical or practical I just have a pretty neat idea for which all your advice would be greatly appreciated…
    Best Regards,
    Francisco

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Francisco,

      I think any you should test out Wix and Weebly. Both are easy to use and so they’re “friendly” to beginners like yourself.

      They don’t have specific tools to help you rent space, but interested people can definitely contact you through your website to get more details. I’d imagine that renters would want to speak with someone live, or visit the premise before renting.

      So Wix or Weebly can definitely help you build a website with ease so people can start getting in touch with you!

      Jeremy