Website Builder vs. Professional Web Designer? How Should I Build My Website?

Having a professional website is no longer considered a luxury. Anyone can register a cheap website and design a decent-looking website with no coding experience using a website builder, in many cases for free. That said, there is a reason many businesses still opt to spend the extra money to hire a professional website designer. Let’s look into why.

Website Builder vs. Web Designer?

There are pros and cons to each option. But the choice between the two really boils down to the nature of your business, your business’ revenue, and your goals.

For example, if you’re a new business without a proven track record, starting out with an affordable website builder is probably your best option. On the other hand, if you’re an established business making considerable revenue, using a website builder could do more harm than good for your business.

Pros and Cons of Website Builders?

Website builders are web-based tools that allow non-technical folks to design websites without much design or coding knowledge. Users select from pre-designed templates and plug in their content. The finished products can end up looking pretty decent.

Pros

  • Price. This one is numero uno – the main reason people opt to use website builders. For a small price (sometimes even free), you can get a decent-looking website up and running on the internet.
  • Speed. With a website builder, you can register a website, design it, and have it live all in a day.
  • Easy to use. Because website builders are designed to be used by non-technical users, they are fairly easy to use.
  • OK design. Many templates offered by website builders can make your website look professional.

Cons

  • OK design. While a templated website can look good, it won’t be based on website design fundamentals, such as UX design and visitor conversions. This means that the website will not be optimally designed to get your visitors to go where you want them to go on your website, meaning lost potential sales.
  • Sameness. Because website builders have become so popular, many people are using the same templates. This means that if you use a template, your website will look unoriginal and generic, potentially making it hard to tell your business apart from your competitors.
  • Bad for SEO. Most website builders are worse for SEO than professionally designed websites. This means showing up in fewer Google searches, making it harder to reach potential customers.
  • Time drain. Even though they’re easy to use, it still takes time to build a website using a builder. If you or your employees are working on the website, it will take time away from doing other important tasks. When considering a website builder, ask yourself what your time is worth to you.

Who Should Use Website Builders?

Because cost is the main advantage of website builders, this decision essentially boils down to your budget and whether it makes sense to spend the extra money hiring a professional.

Hobbyists, small bloggers, unproven startups, small non-profits, and other businesses with low funds are better served by website builders.

Pros and Cons of Web Designers?

Web designers can take your vision for your business and brand, and turn it into a unique, custom-designed website. If you hire a good designer, they work with you to understand your business and your customers to make your website stand out from the crowd.

Pros

  • Professional, customized design. A web designer does two things really well. First, they understand the principles of design to make your website look great but can also make the navigation flow lead naturally to sales. Second, they can create truly magnificent designs that will make your website pop and create a great first impression on your customers.
  • Optimized for SEO. Good web designers build websites with SEO optimization in mind. They consider keywords and tagging to make sure your website is set up for SEO success from the get-go.
  • Save you time. Just like hiring a professional for an at-home DIY project gives you more leisure time, hiring a web designer gives you more time to spend on things that you want to spend on for your business. And as we know in the business world – time is money.

Cons

  • Upfront cost. Let’s face it – hiring a professional is expensive. The upfront costs are high – often in the thousands or even tens of thousands range.
  • Time to launch. Because quality work takes time, it’s a time commitment to hire a professional. It can take about six weeks to launch a professionally designed website.
  • Buyer beware. Just like in any industry, quality and price vary greatly from firm to firm. When choosing a designer, just make sure to do your research – take a look at their portfolio, reviews, and testimonials. Also, with any business contract, make sure to read the fine print. Some firms hook you into ongoing maintenance plans that can even give them ownership of your site.

Who Should Hire a Professional Web Designer?

We’ve talked a lot about the cost difference between website builders and web designers, but we haven’t talked about opportunity cost, or how much it costs not to hire a professional.

Here’s who should hire a professional:

  • Businesses with over $150,000 in revenue. A one-time cost of ~$10,000 for a professionally designed website would be well worth it.
  • Businesses in competitive industries. The SEO advantages of a professionally designed website are worth the cost.
  • Businesses with high transaction values. Even one transaction worth $5-10 thousand dollars could pay for the investment of hiring a professional.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that you need to make the risk vs. reward determination of whether hiring a professional would generate more income for you to make it worth it. If not, or if you simply don’t have the budget, you should opt for a website builder.

Whether you opt to hire a professional or use a website builder, you need to own the domain name in the first place. Saw.com can help you buy a domain to build the website you’ve been envisioning. This will build your online presence and help to define your brand online. We offer a free consultation upfront to discuss your goals, our process, and any other questions you may have.