It is very important to make this distinction. These days, many people can provide you with a website. In fact, most people that own a computer can find the software necessary to build websites already installed for free.
In other words, you could technically design your own website for free. Also, there are online offerings that are close to free as well: Squarespace and Wix are some examples.
Here are some of the types of web designers that you will find out there:
1. The non-professional designer: This person knows very little about design, development or marketing, but they know a little bit about how to use the software necessary to build a website. Often they agree to build websites for their friends and family, however, of course they don’t have any real control of the outcome and therefore it is very risky for a business to trust them. Often times, non-professional designers get in above their heads and seek the help of more established agencies to help them complete the project however, they often are highly unreliable.
2. The junior-level designers. These designers are professionals, but they are just starting out as designers. They mostly lack experience and therefore they have only limited knowledge of the different components of a true corporate website. These designers could actually do great work in a team setting, and when paired with a creative director they shine. However, when they offer website design to businesses on their own, they lack all of the necessary components to deliver a proper site.
3. Senior-level designers. This kind of designer is a seasoned professional that usually has lots of training in graphic design. They understand the importance of hierarchy, position, contrast, harmony, color and typography. They know how to design things that are attractive and most importantly they understand consistency and therefore they can make your website similar to your business cards and your letterheads. In terms of branding, they are absolutely great. However, they often lack the “technical” know-how that is involved in creating a website. They may know a little about how WordPress works and may even be able to configure plugins and themes, however, when it come down to fixing problems related to the code of the website, they simply can’t.
4. Professional Web Freelancers. The professional web freelancer is the person that knows web design and web development. They know how to speak graphically and also have technical competency. They can design attractive things and they can code them as well. They make them look and function well. For the most part they combine effectively the art with the science of a achieving a web presence. But often they don’t have the initiative and/or leadership to address issues that the client doesn’t ask for. And therefore, only the things that the client explicitly asks are the ones that get addressed. All the other things that should be addressed are often ignored.
5. Professional Web Agencies. This group is often made out of a group of people that work together to serve clients. They usually have a good combination of sales personnel, a creative director, designer, developers and if you are lucky digital marketing experts. They understand that a website needs to look great, work great and most importantly serve an economic purpose within your business. They understand the concept of audience and therefore they design to serve the business logic and the consumer of the website, not the company that hires them. They are often very well structured. However they also have expensive people on staff. They have high fixed costs and they work 9-5 just like most advertising design agencies. So you may ask what happens if my website’s hosting goes offline on Friday night?
Why should you hire a web agency rather than do it on your own?
The first and obvious answer is because when you hire someone, they will do it for you, so you don’t have to.
Another important reason is that websites have three major components that make them successful: marketing, design and development. Rarely, would a business owner be good at all three of these aspects.
In order for a website to provide real value to your organization, it must be marketing-driven, it must be attractive to its audience and it must function properly and be configured to serve as competitive advantage to the business. These are no easy tasks. They take lots of time, lots of training and effort.
Isn’t it better to hire an internal marketing team?
Hiring a digital marketing team that designs, develops and markets your business is a great solution, however you have to deal with salaries, culture and the costs associated with having people on staff.
What is the best solution?
The best solution is to hire a small agency that deals with web design from a strategic perspective and that takes a position of leadership over your digital marketing needs. They not only administer your website, but also create content with the right voice, tone and style, and distribute that content to your audience. Basically doing three things: attracting your audience, improving your messaging and finding ways to create momentum. At Merkados we do this with our AIM System: Attract, Improve and Momentum.
If you are interested in learning more, contact us today!