When building a website, you have several options. You can take advantage of a free website builder, utilizing a template for the bulk of your design needs. You can learn the basics of web design and try to create and build your own website. Or you can hire a professional designer to design and/or build a website on your behalf.
Professionally designed websites tend to cost more money – but do they also provide more value than other types of websites? In other words, do professionally-designed websites perform better?
What Is Professional Design?
What do we mean when we talk about professional design? When you use templates on a free website builder, you can come up with a design for your website that looks somewhat professional. But we use the terminology “professional design” to refer to the process of hiring a dedicated web design expert to create your website from scratch.
For example, if you hire a Long Island web design company, they’ll work with you to understand your brand, understand your goals, and understand your target audience so they can put together a unique, totally original design that helps you achieve your objectives. It’s not going to be anything like other template sites – and it’s going to be much more likely to help you reach your targets.
What Is Website Performance?
We also need to understand what website performance really means. There are many potential key performance indicators (KPIs) you can measure to track your website’s performance, and “performance” itself means different things to different people.
Most commonly, webmasters are looking for the following:
- Visitors. A website that attracts more visitors can be considered a more successful website. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, whether you’re selling products or persuading audiences on a political point, more visitors is almost always better.
- Onsite behavioral metrics. You should also pay attention to your onsite behavioral metrics. Generally, websites are considered to be effective when people spend longer time on page, when bounce rates are lower, and when people are more likely to engage with interactive onsite elements.
- Conversions. The Holy Grail metric for most marketers is conversions; a conversion happens when a user takes an action that leads to revenue for your brand. It could be completing a purchase, submitting a form, or even signing up for an email newsletter. More conversions is a clear sign of better website performance.
Issues With Amateur Design
Designing a website yourself, or working with an amateur, presents several problems:
- Lack of knowledge. Do you know what it means to focus on design elements that are “above the fold?” Did you just learn about conversions for the first time in the preceding section? Many amateurs in web design are unfamiliar with even the most basic concepts, meaning they don’t know how to optimize a website for performance.
- Lack of expertise. What’s the best way to optimize for conversions if your audience is old? How is that different from optimizing for conversions if your audience is young? Without expertise and experience in this field, your design skills may fail you.
- Lack of troubleshooting potential. What happens if you launch your website and you’re not getting as much traffic or as many conversions as you hoped? As an amateur, you probably won’t be able to pinpoint the problem, and you certainly won’t be able to fix it.
Issues With Template Websites
Going with a free template also presents some issues, including:
- Entry-level designs. Most templates are free or inexpensive, so designers don’t spend much time on them. For the most part, these are entry-level designs without much depth or potential. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re building a very simple site for a very simple purpose, but if you’re optimizing for performance, you’re probably going to want something better.
- Lack of differentiation. Differentiation is critical in any business context. Free templates are appealing to millions of people and they’re widely distributed, which means many of your competitors will be using them. Visitors are likely to see your website as a practical carbon copy of other websites they’ve seen in the past.
- Little to no flexibility. It’s true that free website builders give you at least some flexibility when it comes to modifying templates, but the parameters are somewhat restrictive. With a dedicated professional designer, you’ll have unlimited flexibility, so you can design your website exactly the way you want.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that yes, in most cases, professionally designed websites do perform better than their unprofessionally designed counterparts. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful with a professionally designed website, nor does it mean that amateur designs have no shot at success. But it does mean if you want to maximize your chances of success, you should work with a professional designer.