Professional web developers have talents and abilities DIY template builders will never have, such as:
Being able to provide customized, personalized design and details and SEO strategies to name a few. Many agencies also have in-house talent that can write content, produce specialty eCommerce solutions, develop a social media strategy and integration, and many more custom-built solutions that no drag-and-drop template builder can.
It's kind of like comparing LegalZoom to hiring an actual lawyer. One gives you generic forms while the other gives you personalized, customized care. You can go to Pier 1 and buy furniture for your home yourself, or hire an interior designer to deliver a more thorough, considered approach. You can purchase a home root canal kit on Amazon, but a dentist does a better, safer job. I think you get the point I'm trying to make.
So, while Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly, and other template builders are popular, it's because they offer free or very inexpensive, one-size-fits-all, automated, generic, quick-fix solutions, that more often than not serve as starting points and not final destinations. The overwhelming majority of businesses would greatly benefit from a custom-designed look that will stand out from the crowd. They may need a custom integration that allows them to incorporate something into their site that the above services don't offer.
They may need help researching appropriate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords that will help them rise to the top of the search results. They need help with business strategy and marketing advice and want to succeed long term. Inexpensive drag-and-drop site builders just can't do that. Only a real live human can.
Before you start: determine your needs.
Before you decide whether a website builder or web designer is right for you, you need to determine your needs and be clear on what you're expecting your website to do for you. Consider all the different pages and functionality you might need.
Do you want customers to be able to purchase something? Then you'll need an e-commerce enabled website. Do you want to create content on a regular basis? Then you'll need blogging functionality. Do you want people to fill out a form or create a user profile? Or are they just visiting your website for information?
Another important question to ask yourself is: are you okay with having a more generic-looking website or do you want something more unique and custom that is tailored to your specific needs?
Depending on your answers to the above questions, you'll be able to figure out how to get your website set up and who you need to work with. This will also have an impact on cost and how long it will take to create your website. Once you have a good idea of what you need and what you expect your website to do, you can consider your options for how to best proceed.
Why should you explore working with a designer?
A web designer is a skilled designer who can design your website completely from scratch. With a website builder, you have to work within the parameters of set templates that are offered, while a web designer will craft your website exactly how you want, down to the smallest detail.
You can either work directly with a freelance web designer, who creates your web design for you, or you can hire a web design agency or company that has a whole team of web designers, developers, and marketers who can take care of everything for you from the initial concept to the finished project including designing your logo, creating a color palette, etc.
Pros & Cons
DIY Website Builders:
Affordable – A business can put a small investment into a basic website that can be up with minimal effort.
Fast – A business can have a website up in under 24 hours, whereas using an agency can take 2-4 weeks (or longer) from start to finish.
Design – The templates are not custom to your business and tend to look generic. Often times you can't add integrations to the template for lead generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), etc.
Hard to Use – These tools are marketed as being easy to use, when in reality there is typically a fairly steep learning curve to these products especially for someone new to building a website.
Cost – These platforms may be a small financial investment to start, but you have to also factor in the time spent on figuring out how to use the builder, optimizing and editing photos that you want on the site, and many other considerations as well. It can take many hours away from your job of running your business. Ask yourself – what is your time worth?
Professional Web Designer:
Professional design – Let's face it, when you hire a professional to develop and design your website you are paying for a professional. These are people who know how to create beautiful, cohesive designs for your company which ultimately lead to more sales for your business. They also know how to customize a unique design for your site that represents your brand in the best possible way.
Optimized for Conversion – Web designers design your site around the best user experience which leads to conversions - which leads to sales. Isn't that the point of having an online presence? If the flow of your site, a.k.a. "Customer Journey", is not clearly defined it will lead to high bounce rates as the site will be hard to navigate and frustrate visitors.
Search Engine Optimization(SEO) – A professional web designer, as a part of building your website, will use the keywords and meta tags you have provided to make sure your site is structured to be optimized for those keywords. This is a critical step in building the website to be sure your company is found on search engines once it is released.
Cost – The initial cost will be higher than using a templated solution. If a templated solution is all you need, by all means save some money and build it yourself.
Time to Launch – Using a website agency will take longer as they are building a custom site for your brand. The development process can take 2-4 weeks (or longer) depending on the complexity of the site, but it will ultimately depend on the overall goal of the project.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution that works for everyone. You will have to weigh a variety of factors before making a decision. DIY website builders can be a terrific way to get a site up and running very quickly. But when the time comes to put your best foot forward, hiring a professional to help you take your business to the next level is a real no-brainer!