Do I Need a Web Designer?

Do I Need a Web Designer?

Web Designer Meeting

Do I need a web designer?

Do I need a web designer? There are so many options for creating a nice looking website ranging anywhere in price from free DYI sites to 10’s of thousands of dollars. I’ll share some things to consider at each price level of web design. When hiring a website designer consider that they may have very different skill sets. At the basic level they can create very nice looking sites. On the other end of the spectrum we find designers that not only produce good looking sites, but they also focus on integrating all the other aspects of your marketing goals including social media, and search engine optimization.

What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?

Web designers and web developers can both create websites. A designer works with HTML ( code that an internet browser like Chrome or Firefox uses to show you the site ) CSS – Stands for Cascading Style Sheets (this type of code controls how the website looks: colors, fonts, some animation today, etc. ) and usually scripting languages like Javascript and Jquery ( these are mini little programs that run on the site visitors computer that add some functions t0 sites.)  A web developer also uses these tools plus databases, languages like PHP that run on the server that the website is hosted. A developer can actually create applications. Let’s say i wanted to create a utility that people could your to upload a file and have it spell checked and return it back. A developer can do that. They also more with dynamic content. For example, when you goo to a site like Amazon to find a book and you didn’t know the title but you knew the subject. A developer created a page with a form that when you enter your info, it searches the entire database of books that fit that criteria and delivers the results to you on the same page. That is a web developer.

 

Do I need a website at all?

There are so many places to share our information today on social media that sometimes it makes sense to use those option in lieu of a branded website. Can you get by with a Facebook Business Page or a LinkedIn Business page? Would directory listings suffice? Could a psychotherapist do with just an enhanced listing in Psychology Today? Ideas like these are worth considering when time and money resources are low.

For most companies and organizations, a website is at least, a central place for people to find contact information and acts as an online brochure. At its’ best, a website is the central place to share information and get feedback. It becomes a part of an integrated marketing plan including social media, traditional media, Search engine optimization, search engine marketing, email marketing and a place to get feed back from site visitors.What kind of website do I need/want?

Broken down into general categories we find:

  1. Standard brochure type ( one that you probably wont change very often.)
  2. A Standard site built on a content management system that is easy to edit even without a lot of technical skills.
  3. eCommerce Sites
  4. Some websites are built as a specific application like a directory site.
  5. Although they are not  individual websites, they can look and feel like a branded website including your branded url.  You can create a store on platforms like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Shopify, Squarespace, WIX, Big Commerce, etc. Because they are built on the companies servers ( you don’t need a hosting package ) and they take care of security, credit card processing and even shipping.

To answer the question, do I need a website, we consider first, what are you trying to achieve? Do you plan to sell online? It is possible to use the Amazon/Etsy route without a separate website.  From my experience, one of the limitation to this method  is in the customization. It is not easy to change the source code on these but you can generally make them work great without customization. Other than that exception I have found few companies or organizations that would not benefit from their own site.  But, even with these eCommerce options, you may want to consider hiring a web designer that can guide you through building the site and incorporating SEO components etc. You will also find that a good web designer can build the site faster that if you tried it yourself.

A good web designer know that your website plays a crucial role in your complete marketing effort. It becomes the hub of communication connecting all your other social assets. As people shop today they are sure to Google what they are looking for to gather information and for larger purchases they may visit sites multiple times before making a buying decision. They will also check with their friends and look at review sites before making a purchase. A well planned website will also work to qualify customers. Perhaps they are not really your best customer profile. Your product or service may be out of their league, or maybe it may under-serve their needs. Either way, a well planned website as the cornerstone of your online marketing strategy so that when customers do come through your door, they are ready to buy.

 

Illustration of an online sales funnel with websites at the center

Specialty Custom Built Website.

Websites that perform different functions or need to integrate with POS systems, Inventory control and accounting packages would require a web developer with more different skills than most web designers.

Do It Yourself Websites

It is easy to start off simply and Do It Yourself Website. You don’t need any technical skills, and if you run into any difficulty there is generally a lot of help to be found when building a Do it yourself website. You always have the option of hiring a web designer if is gets difficult or to time consuming. Options to build your own website ad plentiful. Some options are built on content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.  These solutions are open source and available online for free. You install each of these options on your own hosting account. Wordpress by far has the largest user base, the greatest amount of plugins ( utilities that increase the functionality) and themes ( themes create the look and feel of the website) There is a hosted version at WordPress.com, and a version you install on your own hosting account, WordPress.org. Most hosting companies have a utility that installs WordPress for you. For a very comprehensive list of content management systems, you can visit Capterra, a website that specializes in finding just the right software for its’ visitors. 

What do I need to build  a website?

There are 5 basic things we need and we can get them all in one place. Some suggested companies to check out are Godaddy, Host Gator, Dreamhost , Bluehost, or our service – You can check out this link and try some domain names out. I have included some entry level budget prices below.

  1. Chose a Domain Name and purchase.  $10 -15 
  2. Purchase a hosting plan – This is basically the computer that your files will be on. $7-12 /M
  3. Purchase an SSL  – Google assumes that most sites will be protected with a secure certificate by the end of this year. $50 /Year
  4. Install WordPress – Most hosting companies today have the ability to install it automatically WordPress is open source $-0-
  5. Pick a theme – There are countless free themes available along with paid themes. Free to $50 for most

There are a few ways to handle eCommerce. From simple to more powerful, You can use sites like Etsy, Amazon, Ebay  you can add shopping cart plugins or widgets to your CMS, You can Use online solutions like Shopify, Squarespace or WIX and finally you can build a full-size eCommerce site like BigCommerce.

E-Commerce solutions like Squarespace, Shopify, WIX allow you to design your site with templates like WordPress and have a component that allows you to add products and display them in an organized way on your site. These three are hosted on their own server which has some benefits. The cost of hosting is built into the price of the system, The servers are very secure which helps site visitors feel comfortable entering their credit card information online. All of these have the ability to charge sales tax, shipping, offer discounts etc. One thing that gets a little sticky is gift cards. It is generally easy to sell and redeem gift cards online but they don’t interface with your POS system. If you have a POS system in your store, you can set up your card just like any other product and when one is sold, you mail the physical card to the customer. Then they can use the gift card in person at your business but not in your online store.

The more robust and integrated solutions can connect to your current POS system so you can track inventory including sales from your online store and sales in your physical store so you won’t sell an item that you don’t have. They also can integrate with your accounting software. Some can even use the same credit card processing company for both online sales and in your physical store.

Custom built sites that perform different functions or need to integrate with POS systems, Inventory control and accounting packages would require a web developer with more advanced skills than web designers.

 

 

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