One of the most common mistakes/misconceptions people have about web design is the time and cost involved. Underestimating both, and undervaluing the benefits of professional design, is a common side effect of having so many seemingly cheap and easy ways to build a site quickly. This sounds self serving coming from a web designer but it’s something clients tend to learn the hard way.
A website is a complex organism. There’s copy and images that need to be created or refined, content strategy and layout, page design, user experience (UX), SEO, social media strategy…and so on. These days it’s easy to get something up and running quickly. But crafting an effective website involves far more work and expertise than most people realize.
As a web designer focusing on the small business space this is an issue I encounter on a regular basis. Even if I’m not able to address it directly, it’s in the subtext of almost every project.
Whether you go with a pro, or use a do-it-yourself site-builder, the process is usually marked by a series of hard realities for anyone expecting that impossible trifecta; Fast, Cheap, and Good (that last one’s the kicker).
Pro design can be expensive but if you choose a reputable designer the price is justified by the amount of knowledge and skill they bring to the table.
On the other hand, using a site-builder can often leave you with a not too pretty, half broken site, populated with bad copy, low quality imagery, and poor UX. Sections and features can end up mangled as you try to make pre-built templates or restrictive features conform to the needs of your business.
In terms of cost. It’s either money or time. Hiring a pro can seem expensive, but even “free” site-builders require an investment of your time just to learn them. Then there’s the matter of creating the site, gathering images, writing copy, creating pages, getting your social media in shape…
One of my favorite quotes about design is that it’s not a question of how much a pro’s time is worth, but how much yours is. Because if you try to do things on the cheap you’re going to be spending a lot of it trying to figure things out for yourself. In most cases you’ll still have to call in a professional down the road, to help you sort out your site.