What Can A Professional Web Designer Do That I Can’t?
Are you considering building your own website?
Wondering why you should consider paying hundreds of pounds/dollars to a website designer rather than simply doing it yourself? After all, website hosts like Squarespace, Wix and WordPress (with an installed theme) make designing a website rather simple, don't they? I mean, they even have templates and such to make it really easy for non-techy people to create a site?
Whilst it's always a great temptation, especially for freelancers and small business owners who are starting up a business on a small budget, to opt to build their own website, here are 5 reasons why doing so is more than likely a waste of your time and efforts.
1. Poor knowledge of usability and accessibility
Whilst using a website builder like Squarespace, Wix or WordPress can make the process of designing a website pretty simple, the vast majority of clients I work with have very little, to no knowledge or understanding about usability and accessibility and their role in creating a great website that is not only easy for your visitors to use, but that will rank well in search engines because of an optimal structure and layout.
Usability refers to the ease of use of your website. How easy is it for people to navigate your website? How simple is it to find important information? Is your menu easily accessed?
Accessibility relates to how easy your website is to use and read for people with accessibility issues. For example, how well does your website function for a blind visitor relying on text to speech software to surf the internet? Do you have alt text on all your images? Are you using contrasting colours for your text/background so that the text is easy to read? Are you using a font that is easy to read?
Truly understanding usability and accessibility is crucial in designing a website that will rank well in search engines whilst providing a simple to use and read website for your visitors.
2. Poor understanding of website page structures
Whilst I'm sure you are capable of writing, when it comes to website pages there is a certain structure that needs to be followed to grab and keep your visitors attention.
If you simply go into details about yourself and your products you will lose your visitor before your website has fully loaded!
You have less than 3 seconds to grab a visitors attention when they land on your website pages, get your opening few sentences wrong and you are going to struggle to turn visitors into clients.
Your page should always contain, what is known in the marketing world as a 'hook'. This is written in such a way that it immediately grabs your visitor's attention wanting them to continue reading. This hook should be the first text on your page and make it clear what you do and who you do it for (your ideal client). Ideally, this hook will contain your main keyword (see below for more on that).
3. Poor understanding of keywords and long term keywords
When you write text/copy for a website, it isn't as straightforward as simply writing. You need to have an understanding of your ideal client and how they would search the internet to find your website and services.
Once you understand how your clients would search for your services/products, you then need to ensure that you use these keywords in your content.
You should identify 1 main keyword for each page and use that in key tags of your page as well as in the body (page) text.
For example, if you are a virtual assistant, your main keyword may be 'virtual assistant'. You would therefore want to ensure that you use this keyword in your page title, slug (the URL of your page) and H1 tag on the page.
Keyword research is imperative in creating a website that is going to rank well in search engines result pages (SERPs)
4. Poor understanding of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of optimising your website or blog content in such a way that it will be indexed favourably by Google and other search engines. Whilst structure, as mentioned in the previous point plays a large part in this, other SEO factors also contribute towards how well your website will rank on search engines.
It's impossible to provide an absolute list of all the SEO factors that you need to consider when building a website because SEO is constantly changing. Google (by far the largest search engine today) make regular changes to the way they score a website. A website that scores well now, may well score very badly in 6 months time because different factors are now being given more weight in the scoring process.
One important factor for SEO is how well the mobile version of your website performs. In fact, Google now ranks all websites based on the performance of the mobile version of the website rather than the desktop version. And this makes absolute sense when you consider that in excess of 60% of all internet traffic is performed on a mobile device. Many people who opt to build their own website make the dire mistake of completely ignoring the mobile version of their site and ensuring it is as simple as possible to use for people using a smartphone or tablet.
The other important factor for SEO rankings is your websites load time. Load time is how long it takes for your website to fully load on your visitor's device, whether that is a desktop or mobile device. The magic number here? 2 seconds! That's right if your website takes longer than 2 seconds to become interactive (the ability of your visitor to start scrolling or using the menu) then it is considered to be SLOW by Google and other search engines!
5. Website designed on what YOU like
A lot of the website design work I've had over the years has been from clients who already have a website and tried to build it themselves.
On inspection of these websites, it's clear that they have been designed based on what looks good to the client. This is completely the wrong approach.
When designing a website, you have to know who your ideal client is. Once you've established who your ideal client is, you then build your website around what it is THEY would want to see when looking for your product or service.
For example, my ideal clients are fellow creatives. As a creative by nature, it makes absolute sense that I'm going to get the most satisfaction from working with other creatives and bringing their work to the attention of the world. With this in mind, many of my pages contain 'creative' in the copy. I'm writing my content with other creatives in mind. I understand what pain points other creatives may have in their business and trying to connect with them on an emotional level by showing empathy to the common issues they may be experiencing.
I'm presenting content to them that I believe, and hope will be of interest to them rather than what I think makes my webpage look good.
For example, I often see websites where the owner has put a social media feed on their homepage which shows their latest social media posts on the website.
What value is this REALLY bringing to the visitor to your website? If you are a virtual assistant, does your visitor really care about the kitten post you made on Instagram? NO! They are interested in the service or product that bought them to your website.
Given that site load time plays a significant role in SEO score adding things like social media widgets to your website is simply damaging your website SEO and providing no real value to your visitor at all. Make sure that the information you're presenting is actually providing value to your visitor rather than simply being there because you feel it 'looks good'.
When you engage and pay a website designer to build a website for you, you aren't paying them simply to design a website, assuming you have chosen a website designer that also has a good understanding of SEO and marketing, you are paying for this expertise, experience and knowledge.
My clients don't simply get someone who creates a good looking website, because yes, pretty much anyone can do that. What they get is someone who has a very in-depth knowledge of SEO and therefore optimises the websites I build with my clients to ensure that they will not only look great but perform well. Because after all, what is the point of having a website that no one can find? My clients also benefit from over 30 years of close alignment with sales and marketing teams helping to write marketing and sales material, doing technical demonstrations, writing proposals and more. The result? My clients get someone who knows how to sell!
I hope that this post has clarified why, whilst you can most certainly build your own website, it would be money well spent to engage with someone who can ensure that your website is actually found and converts visitors into clients.
Check out the related posts at the bottom for more assistance around websites and choosing a website designer and host.
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