The question, “Should I hire a web designer or build my website myself?” comes up all the time and you’re definitely not going to be the only person asking yourself this.
To help answer this very common question, we’ve put together a guide to help you determine whether you should build your own website or hire an agency to do it for you.
As you’re reading this article, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions:
- What is my budget for building a website?
- How much ‘techy’ stuff do I really know to be able to do this myself?
- How can I ensure that it is optimised for Google and other search engines?
So, let’s jump in and help answer these questions so that you know which route is right for you.
#1 How much does it cost to build a website?
This is a pretty important factor and to help break this down, we need to look at two fundamentals:
Time: Whatever you are doing in life, your time has a value against it. Whilst we all like to think that we can multi-task like total pro’s, the reality is that we’re likely to be pretty lousy at it. I mean, who can prepare a cake mix at the same time as washing the car (let me know in the comments if you can !!).
Therefore, when we’re working on one thing, we tend to have to stop doing something else.
When building a website, the same principle applies, and you should ask yourself whether you are able to switch your time from other activities and focus on your new project?
Money: As with most things in life, building a website just the way you want it, at zero cost, is pretty difficult. Even the most proficient web designers and developers will incur costs for hosting, outsourcing specific aspects or paying for bolt-on applications.
What you might be wondering is whether you can afford to pay someone to do it for you.
If you’re at this point, my recommendation is work out what sort of return on investment you’re looking at. If you’re looking to build an eCommerce website, or a blog that will has a revenue stream, you’re likely to find that paying someone to build your site for you is going to pay for itself in no time at all.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to build a micro-site that is for a niche community or are not too fussed about the aesthetics and functionality, you may find that it is more cost effective to ‘go it alone’ and undertake the work yourself.
#2 Do you need to be a techy type of person to build a website?
If you’re not the sort of person who likes all things to do with code, don’t let that put you off. In fact, there are some really good web builders on the market that can make the whole process much easier than it used to be.
Probably the most important thing you should do before you decide whether you are going to build your own website is to understand what skills you have already, and if you’re happy to learn plenty of new ones along the way.
In many respects, the complexity of your design will help determine what sort of knowledge you need. ECommerce and multi-functional websites are inherently more difficult to build and manage due to the huge array of options and integrations that make the site work the way you want it to.
If you do decide to build a site yourself, you will most likely need to have a fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS.
There are tonnes of resources across the internet (such as https://www.wpbeginner.com and https://stackoverflow.com) which can help in this respect, but if you’re starting a project with a limited knowledge base, the learning curve will be much steeper and you will need to be ready to commit lots of time searching out solutions and solving problems yourself.
On the other hand, if learning the fundamentals of code or the building blocks of eCommerce doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, then it may be much more cost effective to bring in someone to support you. Not only will you get a professional website first time round, but your developers will have a really good understanding of how systems work.
If you choose the right team to work with, they’ll also teach you a lot during the process and you’ll come away with a fantastic understanding of how everything works. You’ll also you’ll find it much easier to update and add new content to your site further down the line.
#3 How do I optimise my site for Google (and other search engines)?
Understanding how search engines determine where your website should rank in search results is a huge topic and certainly requires a separate chapter altogether!
The key thing to note about Google is that it wants to show users the very best content it can. After all, it’s in its interest to be as credible as possible, or people will vote with their keyboards and go somewhere else.
Consequently, you need to convince Google’s algorithms that your site is worthy of being shown to users when they search for something that is related to you and your business.
There are some core principals which you should be focusing on in order to help give your site the juice required to climb the rankings. These are often referred to as the 3-pillars of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Technical SEO
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is all about the structure of your site and how easily it is able to be found by search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as how Google rates the site’s user experience.
This includes things like XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, access restrictions, HTTP vs. HTTPS, schema page markup, site speed, responsiveness and redirects.
Focusing on these areas will help move the balance in your favour as Google trawls the web to find the most suitable sites to display in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
What is on-page SEO?
Sometimes known as on-site SEO, on-page SEO is about optimising your content and structure around specific keywords, phrases and media. This includes things like H1-H6 headings, alt tags for images, keyword relevance, readability, titles and media structure.
Going back to Google’s key mission of showing the most relevant content to users, it is important that what your page contains is accurate, relevant and useful. For example, if you are an online shop selling guitars but your content is weighted towards pianos, the message becomes confused and it will be harder for Google to determine whether your content is relevant to the search query.
One of the most important things you should focus on when optimising your on-page content is its readability.
So, what do I mean by readability?
Well, you need to write in a style that is relevant to humans and not a robot. Long-gone are the days when stuffing keywords into every page would help improve your visibility, and Google now views such attempts as ‘spammy’ or misleading, therefore lowering the value of the content.
What is off-page SEO?
Here I’m referring to your presence outside of your website in the form of mentions and links on external sites. Known as backlinks, these can help give credence to your site, as it helps demonstrate that people are sharing your content or view your content as valuable.
Now, you might think it is tempting to go and grab as many backlinks as you possibly can. And why not? After all, more = better, right?
Backlinks are not created as equals, and they differ in authority and toxicity. In fact, some backlinks can have a seriously negative effect on your site’s own domain authority. So much so that Google has a ‘disavow tool’ that can help disassociate your domain with a toxic referral.
So, it’s a careful balance and more about quality over quantity. You may see adverts offering you ’50 great backlinks for $50’, but in most instances, these are going to be pretty poor quality and are unlikely to have a positive effect on your own website ranking.
Instead, focus on high-quality backlinks such as those from reputable publications, educational institutions and strong businesses. This will prove to be a much stronger strategy in the long run than just going after low-hanging and poor-quality links.
How web designers help with SEO?
A good web design agency will understand each of the 3 pillars of SEO in great detail, and will implement the very best practices throughout the design, build and publication of a site.
Getting the SEO structure right from the outset will save you a huge amount of time (and money), and you can be confident that your presence in organic search results (like Google) will start off on the right foot.
If you have a site that you think needs investigating to see whether it is optimise for search engines, you can use our website checking tool below:
Making The Choice To Hire A Web Designer Or Not
By considering your budget, technical capabilities and SEO requirements, you’re ready to decide whether hiring a web designer is right for you.
To summarise, you probably don’t need to hire a web designer if:
- Your budget is low but you are willing to invest the time necessary to learn how to use WordPress or Shopify
- You have a sound understanding of design and are relatively tech-savvy
- You’re building a small, micro-site or niche blog using tools such as Wix or Squarespace
- Your business gets sufficient traffic from another source (for example, a physical location that gets a lot of foot fall) and you don’t need your website to rank well in Google
On the other hand, you may want to hire a web designer if:
- You have the budget to invest in hiring a professional agency
- You’re not sure of the best route to choose or which platform to build on
- Timing is important and you don’t want to still be building your site 6-months down the line
- Having a professional looking website is important for your brand, marketing, and sales efforts
- You want advice and support integrating multiple sales channels and functionality
- You want to rank well in Google and generate high-quality leads, attract new business and build brand awareness
I hope this article has made it easier for you to decide between hiring a web designer and tackling the website yourself. If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to speak with you.
About the Author
Iain Beaumont is the Founder and owner of VUMO Digital, a web design and eCommerce agency based in Oxford.
After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2004, Iain joined the British Army before heading into the City and working for a US Investment Bank. With a huge interest in tech development, and from running several successful eCommerce stores himself, Iain now shares his expertise through his articles on the VUMO website.
About VUMO Digital
VUMO Digital work internationally, supporting clients from around the globe to deliver an exceptional eCommerce experience.
We continually break down barriers and implement innovative solutions to deliver systems that really perform. By focussing on the entire eCommerce journey from the outset, we’re able to build website that will be love not just by your customers, by your team, too.
Whilst we major in eCommerce, we cover all aspects of brand design, marketing & advertising, right through to SEO development and custom integrations.
But we also go further.
eCommerce is not just about a slick website and that’s why we also look at how our work can seamlessly mesh into your existing operational process and identify avenues where we can help further optimise your online business.