I have a lot of friends and colleagues who work as independent graphic designers and quite often their biggest complaint deals with clients with small budgets. A professional designer can help any business fine tune their message and promote their brand, but a small business owner may not have the budget for professional services.
These small budgets rarely include money for time consuming development or complex design cycles. For down and dirty projects this isn’t an issue, but oftentimes small business owners expect more for far less money when it comes to professional designer and developer services.
The most common position for small business owners is that they can’t justify the expense of professional design and development, especially for their website.
This is why platforms like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace exist. The selling point for all three of these build your own website platforms is to get a “great websites at an affordable price.” While each of those platforms does indeed offer a low cost alternative (at least superficially) to hiring a professional designer and developer, the truth is a little harder to see when you’re staring at a really low price point for something you desperately need.
All those platforms do indeed offer low cost alternatives. That much is true. What they don’t mention with the “features” of that low cost option though is just what you are getting for your money. In many cases, what you get is far less than what you might get from a professional designer and developer.
For one, the low cost options usually do not include some of the most important features of owning your own custom website. Namely, actually OWNING that custom website. For instance, Wix’s paid plans start at $4.08/mo, but even the starter plan doesn’t remove Wix ads from your site. As you add features to the standard Wix site, the prices go up, and they all remain more expensive than their main competitors – Weebly and Squarespace. And they remain much more expensive than setting up your own website with WordPress through a professional designer and developer. At each stage, Wix doesn’t even allow unlimited bandwidth or file storage. A website from a professional designer and developer won’t come with any of the limitations and caveats of these canned website options.
Weebly and Squarespace have similar limitations and pricing structure which in the end means you’ll feel as though you’re shelling out much more money and effort than you would have had you simply hired a designer and developer to create your own custom site using something like WordPress.
One of the big selling points of using these “canned” systems is that you can create beautiful websites will very little effort. While that is technically true, in practice its a lot harder to create websites as beautiful as their example sites because your content may not be as pretty as their examples. Worse, using their canned images usually results in a site that hundreds of other Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace customers are ALSO using. So much for a unique visitor experience. That is where hiring a professional designer and developer really shines. You’ll get something unique that NO ONE else will have.
These canned systems also restrict your ability to change the style sheets above and beyond what their simple admin tools allow. What if you want to use a non standard font? Or create a custom layout for just one page that isn’t in their layout library? Can’t do it because you cannot edit the CSS file of whatever template they’ve provided for you.
Finally, the issue of SEO must be discussed to truly reveal the value of thinking you’re saving a few bucks on design and development.
When it comes to a website, SEO is probably even more important than the design and function of your website. Let’s face it, being the prettiest belle at the ball is pointless if that ball is being held in a closed room with the lights turned off. That’s what SEO is like when you use these canned platforms. If you believe the marketing message on these sites, they’ll try to explain away a number of SEO issues, but because of the basic structure of the site does not allow for search engine access. Digging into the way Wix works, you will discover that all pages are canonical, or simply tabs of the homepage, and therefore they could never rank on their own. That’s a huge red flag for anyone familiar with how SEO actually works.
The bottom line is that there will always be people who just cannot afford professional designer and developer services. They’ll always look for solutions that match their budget and there really is no avoiding that. Even explaining that a well designed and developed website is a business investment that will give you a return on investment for years to come may not sway the conversation your way.
Often, I help my clients who are leaning toward these canned services to do the math. I explain that a “great” Wix site will run them about $24.92 per month (for their VIP package which still isn’t as powerful and functional as the cheapest website I build, but I needed a baseline). Over 12 months, that website will cost $299! Deal! Except thats just the fees for the site framework and function… what about the time it takes to put that “great” site together? Budget 20 hours (conservatively) to get it all organized and set up. How much is that 20 hours worth? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands? What about the time it takes to get your SEO up to par? What about finding and sourcing images? What about testing on various devices to make sure your site presentation is consistent across multiple devices?
Once they really think about the value proposition, the decision to use a professional designer and developer becomes much easier.
Ok, so what if you stumbled upon this blog post and are thinking, “Uh oh! I use Wix!”
Don’t worry. All is not lost… I mean other than the site you already have on Wix since you don’t really own that site and can’t simply move it to another host or framework. What you can do is hire a competant developer or designer to build you a beautiful, well developed site that you can be proud of, has fantastic SEO, and actually belongs to you.
Give us a call even if you just need more information about what we can do to help you figure it all out.