Having a well-designed website is crucial to create a good first impression with prospects. It also lays the foundation for fostering trust among web visitors and your business, since it reflects professionalism, skills, and whether you’ve been mindful about creating a good user experience (UX).
So how do you create one? There are plenty of platforms that enable beginning solopreneurs and hobbyists to set up simple, beautiful websites. But when your goal is to design something more higher-end or complex, you’ll likely need web developers. So what’s the best course of action? Have your in-house team create it for you or hire a web design agency?
What Is a Web Design Agency?
Like the name states, a web design agency provides you with professional web designers to create your website. However, it goes much further than that. These types of agencies know how to align your website with your business objectives. They know how to draw the user’s attention, keeping the site organized and intuitive, and testing different elements to ensure that they are only including what works best.
And since conducting all of those elements requires significant training and experience, web design agencies have full teams that round up well your digital marketing efforts. They also take continuing education courses regularly to stay on top of all design trends and best practices — even as they may vary from industry to industry.
In short, it’s like having an entire department at your disposal to take your vision to the computer and mobile device screens of your target audience.
Benefits of Hiring a Web Design Agency
There are many advantages that come with hiring a website developer agency over creating one yourself.
A Wider Set of Skills and Experts
You get an entire team of industry experts, each of them specializing in particular aspects of web design, including:
- Web development
- Keyword research
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- User experience
- Content strategists
- Content writing
Having such a varied set of skills working for you means that all elements of your website will implement the best practices required for your site to be effective. For example, creating a basic website with generic content about what you do won’t do much to attract the right audience. And for those who do click on your link, they may have a hard time navigating the site or figuring out where to find the information they’re seeking.
Design agencies are laser focused on finding the most cutting-edge technologies to get the job done. A few examples include HubSpot’s sandboxes — which let you test components of a site before taking it live, or their native payments or customer portal features, which are a dream for eCommerce and project management. So you can continue to spend your time and energy on doing your job, while design agencies pay attention to all these underlying details.
Are Up To Date on Industry Trends and Insights
The focus of your business is to do what you’re supposed to do within your industry. By the same token, web design agencies put all their efforts into their craft. This means staying updated on design trends, search engine algorithms, and what has become outdated or obsolete practices that could potentially hinder your website’s performance.
Web design agencies afford you a lot of flexibility. You can incorporate as much as you’d like, implement complicated features, and enable you to scale as the need arises. They also know which type of design and tools would integrate best with your existing business software. If they need to pivot, they can do so seamlessly, because their experience has taught them how to get around common challenges. They also know how to deploy different types of content based on the web user’s category (first-time visitor, return customer, geographical location, or where they are in their buyer’s journey).
Allows You To Focus On Running Your Business
Designing a website requires a lot of time. There’s strategizing, market research, developing a buyer persona, industry research, creating layouts, wireframing, creating mockups, coming up with a content strategy that guides users down the sales funnel, writing the content, editing it, loading everything into a content management system (CMS), doing quality control, A/B testing, launching — and sometimes even working out post-launch kinks. Hiring an agency means that you don’t have to worry about any of it.
They Know How to Troubleshoot Issues
If any issues arise during the design process or post-launch, the team at a design agency will know how to address them and fix them ASAP. No guessing games or rushing to find an expert who can take care of it.
Peace of Mind
Since you get an entire team with different skill sets, you know that you’ve placed your website project in good hands. Whether they’re using templates or building the website from scratch, they’ll work on each step seamlessly. And as mentioned in the point above, in the event that they come across a snag, there’s no need to sweat it. They’ll smooth it out.
How to Develop a Website In House
Some businesses choose to bypass hiring a web design agency and have an in-house employee do the work. If you find yourself in this boat due to budgetary constraints, you can design a website by following these steps:
- Choose a domain name. Make the URL short and easy to remember.
- Register your domain name.
- Choose a web hosting platform.
- Create a sitemap. This is the blueprint of how your website will be organized.
- Brainstorm with your team for the layout of each page.
- Create visual representations of those layouts with wireframing tools.
- Choose a content management system (CMS)
- If you’re selling products, integrate an eCommerce platform.
- Create a user interface. Some platforms, like HubSpot, make this process as user friendly as possible with premade modules and drag-and-drop functionality.
- Create content specifically targeted to your buyer persona.
- Implement SEO best practices.
- Test out for quality control. Make sure every call to action leads to where it’s supposed to, and that you have a responsive design.
- Create custom dashboards so you can track the website’s performance.
- Publish your website.
- Provide regular maintenance and consider implementing an inbound marketing strategy with blogs and marketing emails to generate organic traffic.
Benefits of Developing Business Website In House
While hiring a web design agency ensures you end up with the site you envision, there are several benefits to having an in-house team member do the work for you.
Lower Upfront Cost
Building a website can get expensive — especially if you want to create one from scratch instead of using templates. You also have to pay for add-ons such as keyword research, search engine optimization, and content writing. So if your budget is limited, having a tech savvy employee do the work for you may be the practical solution.
You’re the Priority
Web design agencies have many clients. Therefore, your site will be created along with other projects, and you may have to wait a bit to see progress on your project. On the other hand, having a person develop your site in-house means that they’re only working on that website. With a full focus, it can be completed at a faster rate.
In-Depth Understanding of Your Business
This one depends on your industry. Some agencies focus on one or two areas (SaaS, legal, real estate, for example), so they’re well-acquainted with the ins and outs of the trade. Others work with a myriad of businesses, and may need additional time to learn about each specific industry. Then there’s also the fact that each business itself may have its own idiosyncrasies or way of doing business. Having an in-house person develop your site means that you’re saving the time it takes to explain all of it to an outsider.
What Is a Freelance Website Developer?
If you don’t have the budget to hire a web design agency, but you also don’t have an in-house employee who can do it for you, there’s also the option of hiring a freelancer. They are self-employed web developers who also have the skills set required to design and code a website. And because they are not beholden to an agency, you may be able to either negotiate pricing or find one that fits your budget.
It can also be relatively easier to communicate what you want/need with a freelancer, since they’re the only point of contact. No need to hold meetings with multiple people.
Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Website Developer
There are several advantages to hiring a freelance website developer for your business. While this option may not be ideal for large projects with a tighter deadline, it can still work out well for smaller projects.
Many freelance web developers have extensive experience working for web design agencies, and simply decided to strike out on their own. So rest assured, there are plenty of them to choose from who are skillful at design, coding, UX, and all relevant areas.
Keep in mind that just because a freelance web developer charges less than an agency is not because they are lacking in skills or experience. They simply don’t have the overhead costs associated with running a brick and mortar business.
Search engine optimization trends evolve with the times. Whereas several years ago, you could get by with a couple of keywords, as competition increased, SEO became more complex and nuanced. Freelance web developers are just as knowledgeable about best practices and new trends as those working at design agencies.
Developing a website requires a lot of strategic planning and components working cohesively. But as you can see, there are many alternatives depending on your needs and budget. And always remember that even within a design agency context, you can often find different tiers. Browse through them as you consider your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Alejandra Zilak is a content writer, ghostwriter, blogger, and editor. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor. She's licensed to practice law in four jurisdictions and worked as an attorney for almost a decade before switching careers to write full time. She loves being part of the Bluleadz team and implementing SEO best practices with her content. When not working, she loves to read, write fiction, and long distance running.