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Let’s face it, websites cost a lot of money – especially if you’re not creating and running them yourself. A lot of people ask themselves, is it really worth the effort? Well, for a lot of people, no it isn’t, but for a lot of other people, it’s a smart investment.

Yeah I know what you’re thinking “How does that make sense? A website is a website isn’t it?”

We know that websites are an online medium for sharing and trading information or products. So getting someone who knows their stuff to create one for you is always going to be the better way to go right? Isn’t it just a matter of having the money? You see, things aren’t quite so black and white.

What works for some people might not work for others, but how do you tell the difference? Well you may need to ask yourself a few questions first.

ASK YOURSELF – ‘WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF MY WEBSITE?’

This is the key part of your decision, figuring out what your website is supposed to actually do.

I’ve had people say to me “I need a website! Can you give me a quote?” I usually do give people a rough quote initially but then I ask them a question: “What is it supposed to do?” That’s when a lot of people scratch their heads. “I don’t know.”

There is a purpose, most people just don’t know what it is yet. This is because they haven’t identified why they feel they need a website. Ultimately it’s a promotional tool for these people (among other uses).

In order for the website to be effective, you need to figure out it’s purpose.

WHEN YOU SHOULD HIRE A PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER

For Promotion & Information – most small businesses fall into this category. If you want to create a ‘brochure style’ website that people can visit or find through Google –then you’ll want to go the way of a pro.

Why? Well it’s not going to mean refinancing your house and selling your children. It’s going to be affordable because it’s a pretty simple site to put together. The major benefit is your image – you will want to look professional, organised and not ‘cheap and nasty’.

Nasty looking websites come across as cheap and nasty businesses. Imagine what a clean & professional website conveys!

The purpose is to make the website easy to find, convey a professional image and drive visitors to a point of sale or contact details so you can pick up the business from there.

For an Online Store you definitely don’t want to ‘tinker’ around yourself. When you’re handling people’s money and the delivery of a product you want to leave it to someone who knows what they’re doing. Much like above, you also want a professional image and all of the same benefits of above. Another top reason to hire a pro for an online store is security. Remember that word: ‘money’ – it’s bait to lure hackers who think they can slice off a piece of your pie (or eat the whole thing) if they believe your security is low.

People also need to feel safe when giving you their money – an amateurish looking website won’t cut it! But more importantly, a good designer or developer will make your website extremely difficult to hack.

To build a large readership or promote yourself. This is becoming extremely common amongst anyone with expertise and some basic typing skills. Everyone wants to become a professional blogger these days! The thing is, a professional blogger usually has a professional design, but that doesn’t mean you should spend thousands right away. It’s smart to have a designer simply design a theme or layout for you once you’ve learned the ropes of your blogging platform – creating posts and pages etc.

Once again, image is key here – so I recommend eventually getting a professional design at some point. When blogging you need to make sure you keep readers coming back, so a good design that leads people to a sales page or an email Subscribe form (or something similar) is crucial.

Ultimately a good designer will create a flow which guides your visitors to the right course of action. Any of the above examples needs this visitor guidance. You want people to contact you, buy a product, sign up to an email list or whatever applies to your website.

A professional designer will be able to make this happen due to the experience and expertise you’re paying for.

WHEN YOU SHOULDN’T GET A PROFESSIONAL DESIGN

Starting a personal blog for all of your friends to read? Maybe one for your new puppy? Image is key right?

Not really.

If this is purely a personal blog or website and you’re not trying to attract readers then you can simply choose a free theme or layout for your website. If you’re writing for friends or family then they know who you are, they aren’t going to care what your website looks like or how it runs.

While a professional design can benefit absolutely any website, it comes down to cost -is a professional design worth spending money on?

If you’re running a business then money spent can lead to money earned, outside of that it could be a wasteful investment!

ASK YOURSELF ‘AM I OPEN TO IDEAS?’

You’ve found a professional designer and want to go ahead. You’ve got money in hand and are willing to pay to get some results. Let’s do this!

You tell them what you’re after, they respond with an idea. You give them some constructive criticism, this is good, they respond explaining why your idea wouldn’t necessarily work but offer another suggestion. You then tell them you want things an exact way, you have a vision and you want it to be met. After all, you’re paying for it so it should be done your way.

In a lot of cases, this above scenario could be where your investment starts to lose it’s value. But don’t take it personally!

You do need to get what you’re after and it’s important to work as a team that agree on each course of action. A mutual conclusion is the best outcome, so communicate and work things out together.

If you disagree with your website designer than that is fine, but listen to why they think some of your ideas may not work and then try to work out a solution with them.

A good designer is trying to create a user experience that achieves your goals – if your idea is set in stone and you are not open to ideas or constructive criticism you’ll probably end up with a website that doesn’t do what you want it to…

…but you still have to pay the same amount of money.

Many websites with a lot of potential end up very difficult to navigate, load slowly and are just not user friendly. This is because sometimes people go too far with certain ideas, widgets and all the bells and whistles at the expense of functionality.

Imagine paying $1000 for a website which refers you 3 or 4 customers a year that spend roughly $20 each. That’s money wasted! A good designer will remove the obstacles and guide more users to visit and stay on your site using in a number of ways:

  • Good Search Engine Optimisation
  • An easy to navigate design
  • Fast Page loading speed
  • Effective branding and use of colours /elements
  • Creating user trust with certain design elements and techniques
  • The list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, most people have good ideas and I’m sure you do too! To put it simply – your designer can create a website that functions the way you want it to so make sure you listen to their advice!

ULTIMATELY…

…it depends on your website and yourself.

If your website is suitable and you are willing to work with your designer to create something functional – every cent you spend will be worth it.

Remember to speak to your website designer about what you want your website to achieve, give them an example of existing branding and if you have any ideas – present them. Once you get a few suggestions, ask why and then work things out from there!

If you have any questions you want answered about web design – don’t hesitate to contact the guys here at Farbox! These guys are know their stuff and can give you a functional and attractive website that’s up there with the best.

If you want to read more tips on running or designing websites – please check out my blog, Design Web Identity. There’s lots of free information to help you grow that professionally designed (or personally designed) website! Thanks for reading!