Build It Yourself
Basic, Intermediate and Advanced
Website builders like Wix and Squarespace have made it possible for small businesses to open a site from around £15.00 per month (£180 pa). These no-code tools effectively eliminate the barrier to entry on the internet and allow small businesses to showcase an online presence. Confident tech savvy individuals sometimes take it even further heading to WordPress or even Webflow to build their own website on a more scaleable platform (CMS).
Having cash on hand to kickstart your business is a luxury many don’t have. We believe creating a website yourself is a viable starting point to get a business online and therefore building customer trust whilst simultaneously keeping costs down.
We’re going to risk the wrath of the internet and proclaim £15.00 per month is nothing. The real cost of not outsourcing a task where expertise is involved is time and quality.
YouTube and hosts of articles like this one allow us access to information like never before. It means that someone with a little technical expertise can spend time and energy researching a topic and produce considerable results without breaking the bank.
There is however, more to websites than just a pretty picture and a little information. The reason companies like Yolkk are hired to undertake a build is their ability to of course produce the pretty picture, but also looking at:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- The website is fast loading (DOM size)
- Mobile & Tablet
- Built on platforms and using techniques that allow to grow
- And lets face it… built to work.
Self Build - Level BASIC
Many websites will need all the aforementioned points. Nevertheless, some businesses or individuals just wish to get started online. Therefore, if basic ticks the boxes, we’d recommend picking a website builder and purchasing a theme.
Advise - Themes
So our advise is to buy a theme.
You’ve already saved by not spending on a professional, a theme allows you to jump forward and can often save you from some of the more technical problems that occur (i.e. when things don’t work).
Good themes (these are often priced a little higher) are prebuilt to work on tablet and mobile, they arrive with a layout that if you choose carefully can simply be reworded to align with your business.
Our experience is individuals do not spend long enough choosing a theme. They find a shiny theme and think they want to jump straight to step 2. This is wrong. Our advise is to spend longer finding a theme that fits your needs in its entirety. When businesses/ individuals choose a theme only to add on top of their purchase they loose the essence of the design and flow they originally enjoyed and often incur the technical issues we mentioned earlier.
The right theme will be one where you’ll only have to adjust the images and text to get your desired outcome. For the truly masterful students this could even entail reaching for a notepad and writing down your title, looking at the images and finding what you could replace with. Effectively, we’re asking you to stretch your creative bone to the limit to ensure you can see your web page on their theme before pressing go.
Unfortunately, unless you have a background in design once you start adapting the theme to your website, it’ll very likely look worse. There’s very little science to this comment but unless you’re truly gifted it’s fact. I mention this as a way of affirming the above. Even with hours of YouTube tutorials you will not be as good as a professional. Fortunately, buying a theme is like hiring your own professional at a much lower cost, so trust their expertise by sticking to their blueprint.
- Look for a theme
- Spend longer looking for the right theme
- Will this theme work for your needs or do you just like it
- This is a paint by numbers operation, follow the instructions (change images and copy only)
Advise - Size
Search Engine Optimisation is stepping over basic but the website does need to load. If the image isn’t taking up the entire screen it should be less than 300kb (0.3mb).
Self Build - Level BASIC - Advantages and Disadvantages
- Low Cost
- Available without high level of skill
- Can build in 1-2 days
- Drag and drop platforms are not always scaleable
- Drag and drop platforms have set options and limit customisability
- Despite time, energy and all the best intentions we’ve encountered many clients that just haven’t gotten it to work the way the needed it to.
Self Build - Level INTERMEDIATE
As mentioned in the intro to "Build Yourself", money isn’t the cost when building a website yourself, the cost is of course time.
The basic instructions (above) will land you a website. If you’re however looking to undertake the next steps you’ll need to consider search engines and structure.
Content marketing is a rewarding strategy. Nevertheless, businesses and individuals have to be careful and understand that these rewards can take serious input as well as time. A great article on Indie Hackers stated that following analysis of 497 business founder interviews, being ranked on search engines was the their highest ranked customer acquisition tool. HOWEVER, they only attempted gaining rankings after the success of a separate customer acquisition method due to the time it took to receive search engine results.
So unless you can truly sustain months if not years of toil before receiving rewarding results we’d suggest applying principles to your website but being cautious around expectation.
Advice - So should I even bother with Search Engines?
Getting yourself onto search engines and building your sales strategy around content marketing are two different things. The above reminds users to set realistic online expectations, but having your business on Google is an important step when building an intermediate self built website.
Following building a website and it working properly you should research search engine optimisation, ensuring you have header tags, title tags, keywords placement, images of a certain size and correctly labelled.
Often individuals set out excited about the creative process but forget that following choosing images, colour palettes and creating awesome copy they’ll also be a lot to learn if you want the outcome to match that of a paid design/ developer.
This article/ video is a great beginners guide to the basics of creating search engine optimised content and should provide the skills necessary to setup a website that search engines such as Google will take note of over time.
Advice - Structure and Strategy
A websites just a website? Wrong.
If the aim of a website is to build trust and ultimately aid in converting a prospect into a warm lead or sale then you should have a basic understanding of how a website can achieve this. We’re not going to go into depth here but understanding how a website will complement a companies sales and marketing strategy should be a question asked by good freelancers/ agencies and therefore yourself.
Does the website have an anchor product? Are we upselling at the checkout? What level of knowledge will the customer have before landing on your website?
Are we providing pricing information? Is the aim to generate a warm lead? Do we have a lead magnet? If we gain a newsletter sign up what’s the next steps?
We have a free PDF on how we believe a high converting homepage should be structured.
INTERMEDIATE - Advantages and Disadvantages
- *All advantages on ‘Level Basic’
- Your business is better positioned to be noticed by search engines and grow as an online platform
- * All disadvantages on ‘Level Basic’
- Higher learning curve and lots of knowledge to consume
- Time spent on SEO doesn’t always garnish results
Self Build - ADVANCED
The requirements of an advanced self built website is more technical knowledge and time.
You’re unlikely going to start writing in code (HTML, CSS…) so when we mention “more technical knowledge” we’re alluding to how comfortable you are with new technology in addition to confidence overcoming problems online using YouTube videos, articles, forums and even artificial intelligence (ChatGPT).
We looked at website builders like Wix and Squarespace when looking at basic and intermediate self built websites. To move to a more advanced self build website we need to move away from the limitations set by these more basic content management systems (CMS).
WordPress, Advanced Self Build
You may have heard of Wordpress before. Around 40% of websites are built on its free content management platform (CMS) that has come a long way since its inception in 2003. The expansion of Wordpress comes from third party plugins built to support a growing list of features. These plugins could be small helpful freemium features like 6 months free SSL to 301 redirects or plugins that very much alter the WordPress experience like Elementor or Divi.
These larger plugins, which are actually big businesses, have developed slightly more modern back-end editors that trump Wordpresses outdated model but also come at small costs. Plugins enable customisability and the user to tailor their design, nevertheless understanding and integrating these features aren’t always straightforward.
Thought out Wordpress sites are mobile friendly and give the user a chance to work with search engine optimisation tools. The size of the platform offers users the ability scale their websites. The widespread use of the platform has meant there are many articles and videos online that can support your use of the tool. Further to this WordPress support can be paid for at a low cost through platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.
Lastly, Wordpress can also be very inexpensive but typically works out to be a similar cost to alternative platforms if buying a couple of plugins, an SSL etc. (£15 per month).
Advice - Themes/ Templates
One again without design experience we recommend users to really spend time choosing a template that will align with their needs and potentially future goals. See “Self Build” “Level Basic” for more information about why themes and the vital importance of this step.
40% of websites use WordPress, how can there be issues?
One of the main issues we find with WordPress is familiarity. Having heard of Wordpress and its widespread usage audiences believe it to be the right tool for the job. This is mainly due to there being no real alternative between 2010-2019.
We mentioned the lack of scalability when considering drag and drop platforms and although Wordpress offers the opportunity to scale, if not set up correctly it can be complicated to grow. The platform itself requires constant updates and plugins sometimes break resulting in you having to revisit a website that was previously ticking along fine.
There’s also WordPress traps. The technical level required to install Wordpress on your chosen hosting platform, research the plugins necessary, then build out the site is very possible but it takes time when starting out. We’ve therefore seen services that allow one-click WordPress installations but have often found they are hosted on slow servers and consequently lose the customer some of the main advantages of stepping towards a more advanced scalable platform.
This article is my attempt to be as unbiased and transparent as possible however WordPress is a tough topic. Not many, but most designers and agencies still continue to use the platform. However, we believe this continued use is due to familiarity over the platform actually being the right choice. These designers and agencies have navigated the aforementioned WordPress traps and therefore understand how to use the tool to create a professional website.
Therefore, in Yolkk’s opinion, the past five years have seen the rise of much better platforms. Webflow and Shopify (for e-commerce) still require greater skill and therefore do have some of the aforementioned troubles when building yourself, nevertheless offer a much better user experiences. Nevertheless, if you do choose to use WordPress as a beginner, immediately head to the add-ons Divi or Elementor.
No article that covers website platforms would be complete without mentioning WordPress and its incredible role in shaping the internet. WordPress has ensured with enough YouTube videos and a little technical skill, we all have access to the wonders of websites. Thank you WordPress.
Webflow, Advanced Self Build
It’s no secret that Yolkk loves and uses the platform Webflow.
We’ve got a whole page dedicated to why we use Webflow but in short Webflow is split with two systems. Webflow Designer is their main platform where design and structure is built allowing the experienced to create without limitations on a modern highly functional interface. Webflow Editor is the second half and what our customers use. Editor makes it simple to alter non-technical components, change copy and images in seconds.
So that’s why we use Webflow. Nice information, however completely irrelevant for those looking to build themselves (sorry).
Webflow is a more advanced platform and as with WordPress will require more technical knowledge and understanding. Once again we’ll use the same advice we’ve mentioned multiple times already, spend a good amount of time deciding upon the right template that you’ve also tested on mobile device and simply run with it! Webflow offers a host of tools that with the right template you simply don’t need.
Advantages & Disadvantages, Webflow
- Like WordPress you’re setting yourself up on a platform that can support more advanced features and therefore scaleability
- Unlike WordPress, Webflow is a more modern platform that arguably has a better user experience
- Pricing is very similar to alternative platforms without the need for more advanced features
- Has an incredible library of tutorial videos for beginners.
- Depending on the features you need Webflow can be more expensive
- Unlike platforms like Wix and Squarespace the platform allows more customisability so if you fiddle you can break your website. *Caveat: Webflow has automatic backups allowing you to restore your old version
- Hiring a freelancer to fix a problem in WordPress is often a degree cheaper than a Webflow expert
- Webflow is getting better at e-commerce, however doesn’t support the features Shopify does for e-commerce.
Shopify, Advanced Self Build
Shopify is a swiss army knife built for e-commerce. Like WordPress, Shopify have a host of plugins that allow a business to grow and scale online.
We'll start by assuring you this is the last time this article mentions themes but we'd advise just that. Head to the platform if you're looking to grow an e-commerce business and will be building up to sell a host of products (20+).
The singular advantage of Shopify is that the platform is built for housing e-commerce stores. The disadvantage of the platform is that it still limits creativity with rigid customisability.
LEVEL Advanced - Advantages & Disadvantages
- You're housing your website on a platform that allows you to learn and grow
- The possibilities larger platforms offer enable 'cooler' features
- Higher learning curve and lots of knowledge to consume
- It can take too long to get started with more advanced platforms without experience
CONCLUSION - Build Yourself
There’s two types of small business customers that approach Yolkk the web design business. There’s those that have identified that their time is better spent continuing to monetise their own business and pay a professional to build. Often however, a customer started building their website with the best intentions but the visual they sought after simply hasn't come to fruition. This is often following days or weeks of frustration. Therefore, caution is advised.
Nevertheless! Drag and drop website builders have lowered the barrier to having an online presence and many have grown successful businesses starting from humble website beginnings. Our experience has always been that those with a little creative or technical background do a little better.
Like millions of other startups, if you're restricted by cost we’ve tried to outline how to best navigate building a website when not a professional.
If however you can afford a freelancer or agency we suggest you at the very least have a discussion to understand what they provide and at what cost. These conversations will often provide golden nuggets of helpful information.
*some businesses even breakdown their services into more manageable monthly payments ;)
Paying For A Website
Everyone knows the mid-market automotive industry is dominated by roughly ten key players... how about if you needed a new bank? Once again, you'll immediately be recommended a handful of known brands. In fact, when rattling off industry categories it's incredible to see how many are dominated by oligopolies or a small number household names. So why not website design?
The website design industry alone is worth just under 1 billion in the UK (2021-22) and 40.8 Billion in the USA (2021). I don't doubt there are key players but certainly no dominant 'built for you' service.
With lack of transparency and understanding consumers are faced with tough choices which drives many to believe the better option is to undergo the task themselves in house. Further to this, when companies or individuals do decide to pay there's often massive differences in value, quality and service received. Despite websites being measurable when considering load time, engagement (time spent on website by new users) and a host of alternative stats, it's not always the website designer who has final say but the client. This makes it hard to compare one service against the next.
Despite it being a bumpy road we'll undergo exactly that. From understanding how to hire a Freelancer on UpWork to comparing local talent and strategy based agencies. We'll be covering:
- Platfrom (CMS)
- UpWork/ Fiverr
The Important Stuff
Writing "build yourself" (all the first bit!) we spent a lot of time discovering and discussing Content Management System (CMS) such as Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, Webflow and Shopify. When paying for a website build things change. Having the right tool is certainly an important factor, however, it might surprise you to hear that when purchasing a built for you website, it is the individual you choose that we value the most not the CMS.
- Trustworthy - have their own website with previous work
- Listen - take the time to understand your needs
- Skilled - have you reviewed and tested their previous work (mobile, page loading speed)
- Communicator - do they respond to emails and calls? Do they explain themselves well.
Finding the right individual is more valuable than the right platform but it's up to you to do your due diligence before you commit to their services. All designers know an agency that sells the dream but turns to the 17 year old intern to do the job. *The 17 year old intern could be a wizz...
If however, you've bought into a certain content management system then you can narrow your choice of service providers massively by only searching within that platforms space.
Here's some Content Management Systems and a brief word on their advantages and disadvantages. Please note the internet provides possibilities and workarounds for many of the negatives involved. This is also based off our personal experience and therefore might be the opposite when asking a wider base.
Webflow prides itself on being built with design at its core. It celebrates engagement and making websites more than static pages by offering easy access to movement and interactions. The platform allows designers to be more creative and creativity takes time. This along with some low but present barriers to their platform (more money) means Webflow experts often charge a little more than some alternatives, nevertheless, if good, deliver spectacular results.
One aspect of Webflow clients love is Webflow Editor. We’ll cover this topic further below but it’s very important to understand how the website will be managed and updated following the build (and the costs associated with this). Webflow is a system with two halves, one (Designer) allowing professionals access to pro tools and the other (Editor) enabling businesses to make simple changes to copy, images and upload blog content without harming how the site operates.
Great For: Design, Client Management and System Management
- Wix/ Squarespace (drag and drop)
Despite not being an advanced platform we’ve certainly seen designers create pleasurable websites using these tools. Professional designers understand the use of colour, structure and the general flow of an aesthetic page. These platforms allow designers to build faster, albeit with a much more limited range of choice. The ability to design quicker can sometimes (but not always) mean more affordable.
Despite the above it’s hard to justify what some designers charge for these platforms when you take into account the lack of scalability and sometimes load speeds (Google doesn’t like slow!).
Great For: Cost and Simplicity
WordPress is a massive platform and generates the most controversy for us at Yolkk. It’s a powerful tool and in the right hands we’ve seen great websites that are built off the back of it. Despite these pillars of hope we’ve also seen terrible sites with lacklustre navigations, badly made hero sliders and a mishmash of conflicting styles upon scrolling.
How we'd use WordPress
Most website are not complicated. Some however have functions that are outside the 95%. Membership websites for instance (websites that you can login and have an account other than e-commerce) are not simple on many platforms but WordPress’s library of plugins can make a more complicated task manageable.
WordPress also caters for those on a budget. The volume of designers using the platform, as well as open source nature, can ensure you find built for you services that don't break the bank (we’ll cover finding these costs further down).
Yolkk celebrate design and have seen many brand new websites that feel outdated but are actually brand new (2021-2023). Whilst speaking with potential customers here’s a couple of examples we found, as mentioned these are all brand new websites but in our opinion have fallen short of modern design expectations: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3 | Example 4 | Example 5. Of course these are not a reflection on the businesses services or even the designers (they could have been following client direction) but are present to highlight that buyers need to ensure previous website builds are in a style to their liking as well as use modern design practises that will stand the test of time (min 3 years).
WordPress users that create engaging well designed website are likely using Divi or Elementor which allow much more creative freedom. We know great designers using WordPress but want new customers to engage with knowledge.
Great For: Unique plugins to solve needs as well as the platforms widespread usage.
Positioning itself as the go to platform for e-commerce, Shopify has gone all in on typically B2C online buying experiences. Previously it was WordPress paired with WooCommerce which is likely still their biggest competitor.
Shopify has the tools to allow a website to grow but does have some limitations including limited design options in addition to its transaction fees on sales made.
Great For: e-commerce
We’re in awe of Hubspot’s content led strategy and others should be as well. We’re avid listeners of their Podcast network as well as consumers of their incredibly produce articles and YouTube tutorials.
Hubspot position themselves as a one stop shop which includes your CRM, CMS, email marketing and many other tools. This is actually what makes us wary. I don’t often get my Swiss army knife out to cut the veg’s, open a bottle of wine or tighten a screw. It can do all of the former but when compared to a tool built for the job it falls short.
A lot of the above is also based around a brief conversation with a Hubspot partner (agency marketing their use of HubSpot tools) who was struggling with drastically slow website speeds after using Hubspot plugins.
Contrary to the above it would require much more work on alternative platforms to generate the goldmine of analytics HubSpot can produce. If you can leverage these analytics properly it is likely a dangerous tool.
Great For: Analytics and wider tool belt
- Go High Level - Is worth a mention because it's likely the same story as Hubspot albeit a less established and therefore not as polished brand. We're not a big fan of their website which is a problem.
There's many more CMS's and seemingly endless drag and drop platforms popping up all the time so if it's not mentioned above it's certainly not discounted. The above highlights best and biggest in category and only scrapes the surface. Webflow and WordPress for instance can function as great e-commerce stores, Hubspot could fulfil all your design needs. It's certainly not black and white but hopefully helpful as a starting point for further research.
Arm yourself with knowledge
You’re reading this article so are already strides ahead of many who implicitly trust their most local agency or designer when discussing both quality and price. The unfortunate truth across many services and industries is that the salesman introducing you to the product won’t be around following a couple of signatures.
It is your responsibility alone to ensure you're armed with the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding price, quality and the level of service you receive.
Lets therefore ask a couple of basic questions:
- What are my current and future needs
- What’s my budget
- What’s the desired outcome
- What about aftercare
Future needs and aftercare
Are you going to pay and retain the designers services following the build or have the asset handed over to yourself for future updates and needs?
At Yolkk, we discuss future needs and aftercare in the very first conversation with clients. We learn't early on the vast majority of those that have previously paid for website design services are sceptical to embark on the journey again due to the lack of control and understanding they have over their current website.
A service that offers build for you web design should have a process to handover the website. What does this handover process look like? If they're going to teach you, what happens six months after when you've forgotten every lesson? These are all questions to ask and consider.
The done for you web design industry does not inform and educate well.
Buyers, for instance guard their budget like they are dangerous nuclear launch codes.
Service providers ask customers to “get in touch” before they even indicate what is essential (£££) decision making information.
At first glance this is understandable. Buyers are fearful if they choose to name a budget; “we’re looking to spend no more than £4,000.00” they’ll be met with “so we’ve put a quote together that is a little higher than your expectations at £4,460.00”.
Service providers say they need to understand the buyers needs prior to offering an informed quotation.
Both sides are wrong.
Service Providers: Stega , an alternative Webflow agency, addresses the question of pricing by simply putting “the average client spend is around $84,000”. This is more telling about their services than anything else on the website because it's ultra relevant information for buyers. It also saves so much time by stopping consumers that aren't aligned. Stega haven't also supplied a definitive number and therefore aren't restricting their services. Companies sometimes also put “prices start at…” or “from…”.
Buyers: Equally justified in their hesitation, equally guilty! Our advise is is using a variation of the following:
“We’re looking to spend around £4-5K. We’re speaking with a couple of providers and are really trying to understand what differences there is when paying £4,000 for instance as apposed to £5,000 with yourselves?”
Posing this kind of question breaks up the cost into bite size pieces. You can therefore choose whether the additional services are necessary. Bear in mind web design and development done properly entails more than might cross your mind, we mentioned the following previously in this article but it's worth drawing upon once more:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Fast loading (DOM size)
- Mobile & tablet friendly
- Structured to sell
- Built on platforms and using techniques that allow to grow
- Built to not break.
SMALL BUDGET - Intro
Even small budgets can get you results, in fact as little as £500.00 will deliver a personalised website complete with search engine based needs. £500 will of course limit your options but you heard it here first, it can be done.
It's likely at this price point you’ll either be heading to platforms like UpWork or Fiverr in order to hire a freelancer OR finding an online service dedicated to producing low cost websites.
Whilst keeping our expectations consistent with a low budget build, buyers can maximise the quality and value for money by providing more direction.
UpWork and Fiverr, £400- £2,000
Nothing is black & white, and with the endless choices consumers have today you can often pick and choose exactly what works for you. One interesting middle road option is to follow the steps of building a website yourself but hire a freelancer to implement the technical work. You can then; choose the platform, choose the theme, write the copy and hire someone with more technical knowledge to join this all together and fill in the blanks you may have missed.
Completing the above using UpWork and Fiverr will cost a little in time but likely yield more quality tailored work than either building yourself or heading to the platform without a plan.
What's incredible about UpWork and Fiverr is the access to such a variety of talent. Post a job and you'll receive 20 proposals (even more with a higher budget), many of which you'll be able to explore past work, reviews and generally gain an understanding of how they work. Many, but certainly not all, designers on the platform are oversea and therefore when committing to hire consider factors such as time difference.
What's difficult about UpWork and Fiverr, unlike our next options that use expertise and process to add a guiding hand, is you're managing the build. You're expected to arrive with enough clarity and requirements that a designer can price their time correctly.
This need for requirements fades as your budget grows and you have access to more local individuals/ teams that can be asked to interview via video call etc. These platforms however can generally feel more disconnected than freelancers/ agencies that are mentioned more below.
- Checking out designer profiles and previous work
- Reading reviews and ratings
- Setting milestones and deadlines
- Being clear about what you require.
Done For You Service, £300- £900
There are services available at around £500 for a 3-6 page website. These specialised low budget agencies have mastered a process and are effectively copy and pasting a workflow - low margin, high volume.
A great workflow can work wonders cutting down the time you’re spending on producing a website. The confidence of these operations can also be reassuring and ensure you're not spending too long building something you believe you need but aren't passionate about.
Therefore, workflows certainly aren’t bad, customers need simply to familiarise themselves with the output of this process (the final website) and ensure it matches their expectations.
When working with a smaller budget and engaging a done for you service it’s understanding that you’re jumping into a mould. The process is about delivering an end result over that of a more communicative process. This communicative process is what we can explore next.
BUDGET BUDGET - Intro
With a budget increase we have to introduce a number of new factors:
- Website Size
- Buyer Size
Access to a higher budget is where communication and open dialog start. When considering a smaller budget (£500) as a buyer you were paying for a product, i.e. a finished website. Now you’ve entered the four digit realm (£1,000+) you’re paying for both the product and advice/ expertise. The affair is more of a conversation than a sprint to the finish line.
At this stage it is of course helpful to be educated but the service provider should be able to walk you through their thoughts.
Another new factor is website size. Prior to this expectations are set at 1-6 pages. Larger websites take longer to build, require more structure and tailored design. Charges differ massively across the industry so it's hard to quantify in this article exact amounts: 10 pages = £xxx.xx, nevertheless, understanding that your budget will have to increase the further you stretch your goals is a need to know!
Buyer/ Business Size
The more a business grows the slower its process. This isn’t a criticism it’s a fact. Layers of decision makers and more individuals to consult add complexity. Whether a freelancer, agency or anything in-between, the service provider needs to account for this sluggishness in their cost. You’re of course buying a companies/ individuals time and in this race you pay.
This may be news to smaller business owners but larger businesses understand and often feel more comfortable paying to receive; priority service, increased security and to ensure relationships continue if they need more decision making time.
Freelancer, £1,000 - £10,000
With freelancers not paying for the overhead costs agencies incur (salaries, office space, pizza parties, etc) you can achieve specialist quality at a lower budget. Nevertheless, good freelancers aren’t actually easy to find.
It’s not as though they hide under a rock or are out winning one epic game of hide and seek. It’s just that online search is dominated by corporations with more resources/ ad spend.
Although a generalisation, freelancers that have lasted in web design are earning money via client recommendations. They've often become specialists in their field or the 'go to' individual in a local community.
Freelancers and agencies (more on agencies below) own completely contrasting advantages and disadvantages. Agencies are all about access to a larger team and a winder range of services. Freelancers are all about access to the individual. You’re betting it all on the individual because you trust their skillset and the more collaborative relationship on offer.
We’ve mentioned it enough times now that it roles of the tongue, nevertheless it’s important to do your due diligence and protect yourself by setting project milestones and deadlines.
The Agency, £3,000 - £20,000
Jodie Cook previously of JC Social Media mentioned splitting buyers into “Rabbits, Deer and Elephants”.
- Rabbit: Small business 1-150 employees
- Deer: Medium business 150- 5,000 employees
- Elephant: You get the idea.
It’s unlikely you hunt both rabbits and elephants, therefore most agencies will be setup to cater to one or at most two of these categories (not that either Jodie or ourselves actually believe this metaphor is about actual Elephant hunting… the internet is hard work at times!). The category you belong to will define which agency you approach/ is setup to fulfil your needs.
An experienced creative agency will likely be charging from £3,000 for a smaller website. Potentially less if you’re looking for a full rebranding and the website is bundled in with new logos, style guides etc. You will of course be paying more for larger or more complicated website builds, agencies that offer a higher quality, or if you're a larger business.
So why do buyers head to agencies:
An agency is not one individual but a team of experts. This can be at a niche, but more likely they cater multiple services creative/ marketing services. In short, clients head to agencies when they want one point of contact to fulfil multiple services. For instance, a buyer might decide upon a new website but also be looking for a:
- brand refresh
- print/ static design
- paid ad spent (Google, Facebook)
- app development
This once again is a sweeping generalisation and there are agencies setup to provide singular services. These more singularly focused agencies are likely setup to cater for larger clients with larger budgets and needs.
- Singular point of contact for all needs
- More resources
- More experience
- Better project management (processes in place)
- Fit for purpose (larger company/ Elephant needs)
An agency provides a lower touch service, less DIY, more done for you. Not all agencies however are equal and like every other category due diligence is necessary...
1. One such check is that for your prospective agency, website design isn’t an add-on service.
A professional website designer has the skillset and previous knowledge to build quality and rely on previous experience to operate quicker than a beginner. For some agencies web design is an add-on service and they'll either outsource or often, not produce the quality expected of a professional service. One rudimentary way of checking is on the agencies website. Does their website draw attention to web design or is it seemingly an afterthought?
2. Another frequent scenario is the great business development trap. We’ve all been sold on a dream but delivered a potato. Great business development is necessary and often sales are better communicators, nevertheless, be careful that you understand who the point of contact will be following signatures. You’re picking the individual overseeing your project, not the individual selling the dream.
AOB | Any Other Business
As the world, and especially technology, moves toward a subscription based model, many web designers and agencies now offer pay-monthly services for higher priced items.
We don’t feel the need to go into detail but the benefit of pay-monthly is aiding your cash flow by breaking down costs. Often it affords you the option to purchase a higher spec product that has a greater impact on your business but also matches budgetary requirements.
Technology is remapping how societies operate.
Multinationals continuously evolve to improve and make online experiences easier. Transactions are faster and safer. Information is more engaging (through video) as well as accessible (mobile).
Consumers want businesses to provide the information necessary to make an informed decision about their prospective purchase before they move to the next steps.
There’s no longer online businesses as consumers expect ALL businesses to be online.
We hope the above this article helps you navigate building or purchasing a new website. We believe there’s no right or wrong way and hope this is echoed throughout this article. It's likely if you've taken the time to arrive here that you value having a fantastic online image which we assure you will bode well in the years to come. A couple of takeways:
- Themes are your best friend
- It’s not that much of a jump to pay a professional
Done for you service
- Due diligence is key. Understanding what you're buying