Web Designer or Website Builders – Which is The Right Choice for You?

May 23, 2024 | Marketing Tips, Website Services

Dedicated Designs - Is A Web Designer or Website builder the right choice?

By Courtney | Web Designer

In my years working in the marketing & web design industry, the most common question clients, friends, and even family members ask me is “do I need to hire a web designer or can I use a website builder to build myself a website?” This is becoming increasingly common as advertisements and promotions for the best and cheapest website builders are featured on podcasts, YouTube videos, and billboards. If you are a business owner, the process of creating a website may seem like a foreign or overwhelming task. So, as your friendly website expert at Dedicated Designs, let’s go over the pros and cons of using a web designer vs using a website builder.

What Are the Differences Between Using A Web Designer and a Website Builder?

First, a web designer or developer is someone you hire to build a website that will meet your business’ needs. These websites can be built as fully custom solutions or using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress. When working with a web designer, you can establish your needs and goals, while utilizing their skills and experience to guide you through the website build and launch. In addition to building the site, web designers are there to help you make the best decisions for your website when it comes to design, function, features, and optimization. In comparison, a website builder is a service that allows you to build a fast and simple website without the help or guidance of a web designer. You may already be familiar with options like Wix, Squarespace, and so on. These options are marketed as do-it-yourself services that offer ready-to-go features like stores, social feeds, event calendars, and more. With a website builder, business owners can enjoy What You See Is What You Get (WIYSIWG) front-end editing and bonus site additions that tech-savvy individuals could manage themselves.   Dedicated Designs - Web Designer Options

When Should I Use A Sacramento Web Designer?

With website builders in the mix, almost anyone can build a website but not everyone should. Websites can be complex, and require deep knowledge in search engine optimization, user experience, web maintenance, and so many other factors. Because of this, I always highly recommend a business owner with little web knowledge choose a web designer over a website builder if costs allow. Web designers can use their expertise to build you a website that is catered for your business, customers, and workflow. And, when you work with a web designer, you are partnering with someone who can set your website up for long-term success. There are a multitude of factors involved in any web build, including ADA compliance, security, future growth, and more. Without getting too into the weeds, here are a few of the most common instances where I would recommend you work with a web designer for your website. .

Your Website Needs Are Complex

A good website builder will make web builds seem accessible and easy. Because of this, there are many website functions that are far more intricate and complicated than someone not involved in web design and development would expect. Here are some examples of a complex website:

  • A website featuring a store with over ten products
  • Websites with a search function
  • Membership websites
  • Password protected content

If your dream website includes one or more of these features, it will absolutely benefit you to work with a web designer over a web builder.

You Are Interested in Custom Web Options

A huge benefit to using a web designer is having your website be compatible with your business and workflow. Web designers can ensure that your site is integrated with other services like CRMs, email marketing solutions, Google services, and much more. Additionally, web designers can develop complex web options that far exceed the available options from website builders. The sky’s the limit! If you would like custom forms, conditional logic, advanced searches, integrations, membership features, and password-gated content, the right web designer can get it done for you. Beyond functional customization, web designers can also customize your website aesthetics to maximize user experience and conversions. A web designer will partner with you, learn about your company and customers, and use their experience to design solutions that look AND perform well.

You Are Looking To Rank On Google Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is the process of improving a website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) to attract more organic traffic. It involves optimizing various elements of a website, such as content, keywords, and meta tags, to align with search engine algorithms and user intent. While website builders offer SEO solutions, having an expert web designer build your website with SEO in mind is vital to ranking on Google. Web designers can maximize your search engine effectiveness by intelligently and effectively building with accurate location, search keywords, and customer needs in mind. Truthfully, website builders only scratch the surface of search engine optimization, whereas a designer can make sure that every line of code, each sentence, and all images are optimized for search engines. Unless you are well-versed in SEO best practices, partnering with a web designer with SEO knowledge is key for ranking in searches and being found by your customers on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

You Have The Budget To Hire A Designer

Like most products and services, websites are in line with the saying “you get what you pay for.” Cheap and fast website options may seem like the right choice in the short term, but can quickly become outdated, ineffective, or offer your business no benefit at all. At the end of the day, a website is a tool and resource! If you have the budget to have an expert build you a website, you should do so. By having a skilled designer create your site, you are first and foremost investing money into your business. This choice will pay off in the long term because you can rest assured your site was built with best web practices, web security, and your customer’s online experience in mind. If you can afford a custom website, choosing a web designer can reward you with an effective sales funnel, a key customer resource center, brand awareness and reach, and so much more.

Considerations to Keep in Mind When Using A Web Designer

It Can Be Expensive

Because you are hiring someone to build your website, the price tag of a web designer is higher than completing the site yourself. Web designers and developers have spent years learning how to code and optimize, and that knowledge comes with an appropriate price. In some cases, working with a skilled web designer can be more of an investment than some business owners are ready to pay.

Website Build Timeline

A website build involves planning and collaboration between the designer and the business to ensure the site is built properly. Depending on the size of the project, websites can take weeks to months to develop. If you partner with an especially busy designer or agency, you may have to wait until the designer wraps up a few projects before they can start working on your website.

Partnering With the Wrong Web Designer

Not all web designers will be able to give you the website your business needs. Most good web designers will be upfront and clear with you if they cannot complete the build or if your needs are too complex for them. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There are web designers out there who will not put in quality work, cut corners, or at worst even build the site without good web practices. My biggest word of advice is to partner with a reputable designer or agency with good client reviews, plenty of quality work in their portfolio, and one that stays communicative with you throughout the website build.   Dedicated Designs - Using a drag and drop website builder

When Should I Use a Website Builder

Though I have an inherent bias as a web designer, business owners should pick the website option that is most reasonable and achievable for their business. Website builders have their purpose and can benefit a business owner desperately in need of a web presence. Frankly, I have spoken with potential clients and informed them of website builder options if a web designer was out of their budget. The reality is, while all businesses would benefit from using a web designer, not all need a complex website nor can all afford a custom web solution. Here are some instances where a website builder could be a good option for you.

Your Website Needs Are Simple

If the website you are looking to build is straightforward, a builder may get the job done. A simple website would be pages of mainly text content, videos, and pictures without any custom or complex website functions. If you need a shop or store, options like Squarespace can work almost out of the box. It can be difficult for business owners to gauge how complex their website needs are, so you can reach out to our team for a free project consultation! We will give you honest feedback about which solution would work best for you.

You Do Not Need To Rank High In Google Searches

Due to their limited Search Engine Optimization (SEO) control, website builders are a reasonable option if you are not going to dedicate time into ranking on Google or other search engines. If you only need a website so people can find more information from your social profiles or a QR code at your physical location, a simple website might be the right choice. If you do want your potential customers to find through search engine results, a website builder allows some optimization. You can update your meta description, add image alt tags, and build your site with the right page headings, but difficult keywords typically take more work than that. Regardless, you should know the basics of SEO best practices before starting your build so you can implement it into your new website.

Your Budget is Limited

At the end of the day, budget is the biggest make or break for what is possible with a website build. If you simply cannot afford a web designer or complex website solution, then a website builder is a good option. Many website builders come with an affordable monthly payment that can get your content up and going, which is much better than not having a website at all.

What Are The Downsides To Using A Web Builder?

Limited Options

Despite how they are advertised, the results from a website builder are far more limited than the results you’ll get from a web designer. These limitations can appear in the design, features, functionality, optimization, and experience of the website as a whole. Additionally, most website builders brag about endless features, when those same features actually require additional premium apps with their own price tags. Options like emails, customer chats, stores, calendars, booking widgets, and more might end up costing you even more monthly or yearly fees than you expected.

Struggles with Expansion

In addition to limited features, a web builder does not allow for intuitive website expansion. Most web builders are designed for small, simple websites. This can make growing your website with a site builder extremely difficult. And, if your business outgrows a website builder and needs to expand, the majority of times the content from the site builder can not be transferred to a more complex CMS like WordPress – leaving you back where you started.

ADA Compliance

When you use a web builder, you will have a limited ability to ensure your site is ADA-compliant. ADA compliance refers to adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, ensuring that your website is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Failing to meet these standards not only risks legal action but also alienates a significant portion of your potential audience. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to work with web developers who understand and prioritize ADA compliance or invest in platforms that offer robust accessibility features.

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You(r Business)

Unless you know how web design works, there are a lot of hidden factors that can hurt your web presence. Big problems can easily be designed into your site and before you know it, your website is doing the opposite of what you intend. For example, if you do not add ALT tags on your website photos, you are not building an ADA-compliant website OR SEO optimizing your site either. If your website is not using page headings correctly, you can tank your SEO. If your website is not mobile-friendly, this can hurt your online presence severely. On a smaller scale, there are many choices that web designers make to improve customer experience. These are features like the number of clicks in a customer journey, call-to-action placements, and more decisions to increase user experience. When using a website builder, the builder might not be aware of these concepts. This can lose your business conversions, visitors, search engine rankings, and more.

Final Thoughts

Deciding between hiring a web designer and using a website builder depends on your business needs, the complexity of the website, SEO goals, and budget. Web designers offer custom solutions, expertise, and long-term benefits. This makes them ideal for complex, custom websites and businesses aiming for improved search engine rankings. However, they come at a higher cost and longer development time. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace provide a more affordable, quick-to-launch option that is suitable for simple websites and businesses with limited budgets. They offer limited customizations and light SEO capabilities, which can hurt growth and your online presence. Ultimately, the choice depends on evaluating your business, your specific requirements, and available resources. If you are in need of a website and would like to partner with Dedicated Designs, you can reach out to us using the contact form below. We will give you a free consultation and determine what options best suit your website needs. At Dedicated Designs, we have worked with a variety of Sacramento and Northern California businesses for their marketing and website needs. Get in touch with us – we would love to talk to you about your project!

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