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Should I design my own website, or hire a designer?

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

If you’ve been wondering, “Should I hire a web designer?” that’s a great question. It’s natural to want to design your own website, since you know your business better than anyone else.

But, there is a great deal that goes into designing a functional, effective website for your business. Below are just a few of the things you’ll need to consider when determining whether to design your own site or hire a professional.

It’s more than just making a pretty site.

Your website design should be aesthetically pleasing, but it has to be functional, adaptive, and effective at turning leads into sales. For a great website:

  • Start with a strategy.
  • Make sure your site is functional.
  • Use search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Don’t forget about alt text.
  • Optimize your site for mobile devices.
  • Engage with and respond to your audience.
  • Keep good design in mind.

Let’s break each of these down a little more.

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Start with a strategy.

Before you write a word of your website, you’ll need a solid strategy and marketing plan. But, why can’t you just start writing? Why do you need a strategic website?

First of all, your website establishes your credibility. If your website is attractive, easy to use, and informative—people will have a better first impression of your business. Also, an SEO-optimized website is much easier for search engines and consumers to find (we’ll talk more about SEO later in this post).

A major part of strategy development is defining your target audience. If you know who your audience is, what they’re like, and what they’re looking for, you’ll be able to write helpful content they actually want to read. And, you’ll be able to put their needs first and gain insights about their decisions, which will help you turn leads (people who visit your website to learn more) into customers.

One way you’ll have to put your customers’ needs first is with the website’s content and design. It’s important to remember that you’re building this site to please the customer (not yourself!). While it may sound obvious, it’s worth noting that you (the client) are not the target audience, so you really have to keep in mind what content your customers need and what colors and images will spell out “success” for them (more on that later).

Make sure your site is functional.

Once you’ve determined a strategy and defined your target audience, it’s time to start writing! Something to keep in mind as you write web copy is to make your site functional. In other words, you want your site to be easy for potential customers to use and navigate. That means links that work, content that’s helpful, and a navigation menu that helps visitors learn more and take action (buy your product, schedule a consultation, etc.).

You also want your calls to action (CTAs) to be visible in multiple places on your home page and at least once on every other page. We’re always talking about CTAs in the marketing industry and how important it is to clearly direct people to act. Don’t hide your CTA link or button at the bottom of your site! Make it painfully obvious to visitors what you want them to do, and check to make sure your CTA links work.

In addition, you should make it easy for your customers to reach you. Include your contact information and social links (if you have social media accounts) in the footer on every page. If you have a contact form accessible through your main navigation menu, that’s even better. Again, these should all be clear to visitors and link to their proper places.

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Use search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a process that improves your website’s search engine rankings and helps consumers find your business online. Relevant keywords and key phrases will improve your SEO and let others find your site more easily. For example, don’t just have “electrician” as your home page’s keyword. “Commercial electrician near me” or “commercial electrician in Lafayette, Indiana” are better, since they’re longtail keywords.

Wait, what’s a longtail keyword? It’s a keyword or key phrase that’s more specific than more commonly searched terms. For example, “electrician” is searched much more, but is far less specific, than “commercial electrician in Lafayette, Indiana.” You want your longtail keyword to have a high conversion value, which is the percentage of your website’s visitors who take a desired action (scheduling an appointment, purchasing a product, etc.). Great longtail keywords address a specific problem and/or offer a specific solution. While the phrase “commercial electrician in Lafayette, Indiana” gets fewer searches than “electrician,” it will probably have a higher conversion value because it offers a specific solution.

Don’t forget about alt text.

Google, Yahoo, and other search engines won’t pick up images, so even your website’s pictures need keywords in their alt text. This is short for “alternative text,” and we use alt text in HTML code to describe an image’s appearance and function on a page. Alt text helps search engine crawlers index an image, because it provides context and a better description of what you’re trying to show.

When people search for something online, they’re looking for a specific, convenient solution to their problem. Make sure you’re using SEO and alt text so you can let people know your business is ready to help!

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Optimize your site for mobile devices.

Mobile optimization, or responsive web design, is also critical as more and more consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets to search online. This is especially true if your business targets a younger demographic or the busy, on-the-go crowd.

If your website can smoothly transition from desktop to mobile view and vice versa, you’ll make it that much easier and enticing for consumers to reach (and stay on) your site wherever they are. You’ll also look professional and up-to-date, and customers will be more likely to trust you if you’re able to adapt to tech changes and trends over time.

Engage with and respond to your audience.

Something else you’ll have to do when creating a website is write engaging content that’s still true to your brand. So, how should you engage your audience?

One great way to do this is by telling a story. As human beings, we’re naturally inclined to take interest when we hear the beginning of a story, and we want to stick around to find out how it ends. You can use the power of storytelling by featuring your customer (not you, the customer) as the hero. On your site, talk about the problem that your hero is trying to solve (a better electrical solution, for instance), and how the hero finds success (affordable lighting that works) with your help.

Adding images to your post will also help to engage your audience by doubling your posts’ effectiveness. If you add a video, it will make your post up to 12 times more effective! In addition, keep visitors coming back with entertaining features, a contest or sweepstakes, and simply having two-way conversations with audience members. People appreciate it when you answer their questions and talk with them (not at them), so make that available to your target audience.

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Keep good design in mind!

Of course, if you have a poorly designed website, your business likely won’t convert too many new customers. On the other hand, if your website is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, visitors will stay longer and be more likely to respond to your call to action. Another reason to have a well-designed website is that it makes your brand look professional and put together.

In addition, choosing the right photos is key to an effectively designed website. Think about what your customer (again, not you, the customer!) sees as success, and how you can evoke feelings of success and reassurance with your photos. For example, if you’re an eye doctor, you might choose photos of a happy-looking family who has the glasses or contacts they need to see properly. Or, if you’re a foundation repair company, you might choose photos of a trustworthy-looking repairman who’s putting the finishing touches on a beautiful home. Whatever images you choose, make sure they’ll show your customers what life will look like (happier, healthier, safer) if they put their trust in your company.

It’s understandable if you’re a little overwhelmed by all of this information. That’s why a great web designer is worth the cost. They’ll explain their reasoning to you throughout the entire web design process so you’ll understand how and why things work the way they do. A great web designer has all the tools and knowledge necessary to create a beautiful site for you, and he or she will work in a team with copywriters and strategists to make your site a success.

Person at a computer considering if they should creating their own website or hire a designer.

Treefrog Marketing is a marketing agency focused on small business and located in Lafayette, Indiana. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.