Learning Hub | Planning a Website Design Project
Does Your Company Need A New Website? Here Are Your Options
March 7, 2018 | Jon Teodoro
Your website is the bridge between your business and customers. Sure, people can find you on Google or see your Facebook ad, but people generally solidify their first impressions based on the design, content, and user experience on your website.
It makes sense that people rationalize this way. Your website is the place for people to connect with you past the 140-character tweet or 55-word search engine page title. It’s where they can dig deeper into your brand and really get to know who you are and why they should choose you over your competition.
Because of this, having a visually appealing, fast, and mobile-friendly website with clear messaging is crucial to nailing your first impression with potential customers. We all know this. The real questions are these: How do I go about building a website that will fulfill these critical requirements? What are my options and how much should I expect to pay?
Your first option: Design it yourself.
If you have the time, there are tools out there like Wix or Squarespace to help you build a clean, functional website. This is the best option for startup companies or businesses that don’t have a web presence. Using a do-it-yourself (DIY) website builder will save you money but not the expense of time. Regardless, going this route will allow you to at least get something up on the web.
WordPress is another popular DIY option. However, one thing to be aware of when doing a DIY WordPress project is security. If you are planning to use a pre-purchased WordPress theme from the Internet, unless you have 100% confidence in your theme developer’s capability, I would steer clear of using them.
In addition to using poorly coded, pre-built themes, it is tempting for DIY business owners to install a bunch of plugins to customize everything.
There is nothing inherently wrong with using plugins to build a WordPress site. But if you don’t understand the performance, long-term reliability, and security implications of using each plugin on your website, it’s better that you let a professional handle it.
Think about it this way: Would you trust a random overseas developer’s code to run your business’ infrastructure? It’s a risky call. Potential ramifications include malware infections, downtime, and dreaded website/PHP errors. Not fun.
TL;DR: Wix or Squarespace works for most companies that need a basic web presence. WordPress can also be a viable alternative if you know what you’re doing. Watch out for poorly coded, insecure themes and avoid bloating your website with unnecessary plugins.
Your second option: Outsource to a freelancer or subcontractor.
As a business owner, you need to understand that many freelancers out there fall into the category of “Side Hustler.”
Side Hustlers are typically the part-time, work-from-home guys or gals who build websites as a side hustle to make some extra money. Easy access to the basic learning blocks of front-end web languages like HTML and CSS, along with the democratization of creative web tools make have flooded the market with Side Hustlers.
Hiring a Side Hustler can be an appealing option for companies due to the price gap between them and an established company. The difference can sometimes be in the thousands.
But what if you need critical updates or support? What if your website goes down? Can you rely on someone to respond to your calls, texts, or emails while they are at their second job? I have a lot of respect for those who can take the time to self-teach a skill and turn it into a revenue stream, but when your business depends on the person who built your site, you have to look at the pros and cons.
Hiring a Side Hustler can be a great option if you plan on building a simple, low-maintenance website. You’ll definitely end up spending more than a do-it-yourself solution, but if you’re better at running your business then fiddling with code and you want to save money, a Side Hustler might be your best bet.
TL;DR: Side Hustlers who build websites part-time can be another time-saving and relatively inexpensive option. However, you’ll have to set your expectations accordingly. Many times, low pricing (under $1000) usually translates to a bad business experience or an incomplete/unprofessional website.
Your third option: Hire a web agency.
OK, so let’s say you hired your wife’s cousins brother to build your website, but he just had a baby so he isn’t responding to your emails or calls and now your stuck. I’ve heard this exact story at least five times in the last year. So, what do people typically do next? They seek help from a professional firm.
Web design agencies are another option you can consider if you want a properly built website with a reliable level of service attached to it. Web agencies are generally more expensive than freelancers; however, you’ll be working with an actual company with real experience.
From what I’ve seen, the biggest reason why people to hire web agencies is specialization. Web agencies are typically made up of a group of people with complementary skills to each other in areas like design, UX, content, marketing, and development.
Having a group of people that specialize in each of these areas, working together in unison, greatly increases the chances of launching the high-converting, traffic-generating, nailed-the-first-impression website that businesses look for.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration also leads to higher levels of creativity and breeds more diverse ideas. In addition, web agencies are usually able to complete more complex projects in a shorter time since more people are working on your project.
TL;DR: Web agencies, especially those with a solid reputation and portfolio, will give you the best-quality website you can get, but it will come at a premium. If you’re looking to expand your business or really stand out from your competition, hiring a web agency would be your best option.
Your fourth option: Hiring someone in-house.
The last logical option is to hire an in-house web developer. This option makes sense when your website is the business or if your website needs constant maintenance and upkeep. Large e-commerce stores, media websites, or enterprise corporations are a few instances where I’ve seen in-house web development departments being hired.
Despite this, even some startups are ideally matched for making an in-house developer their first hire. If you’ve got a web application or mobile application that is starting to take off, you’ll need someone to run the technology side of your business while you’re pitching to investors. Or someone to fix things when stuff hits the fan.
According to Indeed, in the Detroit area, the average salary for a full-stack web developer is $85K per year. If you’re looking for someone who is a front-end-only developer, the going rate is about $75K per year. An entry-level web designer’s salary average is about $56K per year.
TL;DR: Basic economics make it clear that most small businesses that are still growing don’t need to go out and hire a dedicated in-house developer unless they run a website or business that requires a full-time developer on staff to hold down the fort.
Which option should you pick?
Build your own website if you have the time or find a freelancer that you can trust. Start small and move up from there. Once your needs outgrow your skillset or that of your freelancer, then it’s time to start talking to web agencies.
If you’re at that point, Verde Media has been a top choice for dozens of businesses across the US. We have experience in eight different verticals and have built over 150 custom-designed websites since our inception in 2011.
We invite you to check out our Results page. It showcases some of our latest projects. There are also short case studies that highlight key projects we’ve worked on and for which we were able to produce measurable, statistically-significant results.
Ready to get a quote? Fill out this quick form or give us a call and talk to a project manager today.