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Why You Don’t Need A Professional Web Designer
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Why You Don’t Need A Professional Web Designer

I have finally given in.

After many years designing websites for clients I have decided to stop, especially for small businesses.

I quit, I capitulate, I give in, YOU WIN!

Most small businesses and all big businesses need a high quality website. It was common in the good old days of just 5 years ago to see woeful attempts at website building by small businesses determined to save money and do it themselves. So woeful were these websites that the first thing a potential customer or client would do was hit the back button, often with an involuntary shudder, and rush to the restroom to wash their hands. The sites were loud, garish, ill-formatted and generally screamed “go away and find a real business” to anyone unfortunate enough to have landed upon them. In short, they sucked.

And the news is that it’s still entirely possible to build websites which look, feel and sometimes sound just like them. Be warned, “My brother-in-law who knows a bit about computers” will probably not be a web developer; if he is and he builds you one for free then he will not have poured his heart and soul into it and although it may be functional, barely functional doesn’t win prizes.

So, people turned to professional web designers.

The professionals (like I was) were fully aware of the degree to which they were needed, and could charge accordingly. In the UK prices often started at £1,000 ($1,500) for a good website, and anything with the facility to buy products online would cost considerably more. These were our main selling points:

• A professional website looks professional

• There are things a client may not know about how a design affects sales

• A bespoke website always looks better than something “off the shelf”

• You want your website to look different, not identical to others

A customer might also consider the “aggravation factor” of finding a domain name, hosting, uploading the site etc.

So what changed?

In a word – WordPress.

WordPress is a free platform for websites. As of August 2013 it hosts over 18.9% of all the world’s websites, which represents over 60 million sites. As soon as WordPress was launched in May 2003, people started designing themes for it. These were often fairly basic but we’re now at the 10th anniversary of WordPress and literally tens of thousands of sites are available, many of which are free and most of which cost around £30 ($45) or less. For a fraction more you can even purchase software which enables you to copy any site or design from scratch. So how does WordPress stack up against my old claims? Let’s see:

• A professional website looks professional. (You’d struggle to find an amateurish looking WordPress theme for free – they all look professional. OK, scratch that. Most look professional...)

• There are things a client may not know about how a design affects sales. (This is down to the skill of a content writer, not a web designer)

• A bespoke website always looks better than something “off the shelf”. (Not any more...)

• You want your website to look different, not identical to others. (You can customise most themes, and with a little graphical help they can look entirely different. For most, you won’t need any skills whatsoever. Besides, when you go to a site how many times have you EVER said, “I remember a site like this from 2007?).

I made the decision to concentrate on writing and ditch the whole idea of designing sites when each of my designs came so close to something that was already out there. I feel it’s unethical to take a client’s money when so much help is available elsewhere.

So don’t waste your money on a designer. Investigate the free options from WordPress itself or anyone else who can help you for nothing. Google is your friend.

With a little advice and research you can have a non-sucky site for free within minutes.


Street Talk

AuroraG  

Hmm I found your article very interesting. Could one create a site for an online publishing company with many different blogs on word press or would you need a designer for that?

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Most people will still need help with setting up etc. but design tends to be taken care of by means of WP free sites. The answer to your question is yes, it can be done, but yes, you'll probably need some guidance on how best to do it.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Great info. Thanks

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Jayne1  

You are right Paul. I remember the old days when only those with html knowledge could do it. Now there is WP and anyone can come up with a website in minutes. I welcome the change but I also feel the pain.A small part of me wishes peoplecould work a little harder to build a site :( How sad am I?

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Hi Paul, your article is insightful. if your doing this every day you must be on top of what WP can do for you and use it to your advantage. What impresses me most are the widgets and plugins. its a no brainer and that can be a bugger incorporating video players, javascript and other mechanical goodies into an intense graphical design. with that said, i am still more impressed with an original extraordinary graphic web design. They are out there and its a joy to stumble across them when you do. But your right. The small business guy can not afford such a grandiose project. He needs functionality and probably something he can edit himself. WP themes will only get better and better looking - but they still have that "bloggy" look -recent posts, categories, etc. Makes it ordinary. anyway, there's my two-bits worth.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I feel your pain. I was programming IBM 3610's years ago, and now I am completely blown away with the word press sites. Never did I imagine that WP would be the "Next up and coming" in computer land. Very good article.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Robbie-  

So true there Paul. Design's not worth a thing if there's nothing on it. WP does the trick and be changed anytime for free or upgrade to a premium theme with bells and whistles. Programming on the other hand is where my clients are hiring. WordPress is great for putting a pro looking site up fast, but adding independent functions seems a problem for the unskilled. Graphics and content is where the assistance is required.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Leonardo2  

Thanks Paul for this enlightenment...web designing is a skill that is now available to anyone who are willing to learn. However, content writing is unique and that will be your advantage than designing a website...content and traffic are the backbone of web development...keep it simple and make your content worth reading....thanks to street articles, we are here to stay

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Paul, this is a good example of "selling without selling" . I like your humorous writing style too. I notice you link to your free sites. Do you have one on your own domain?

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Ivy Glenn  

Well done! Keep up the good work.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Great article and from a great perspective. Some very good info for new people into web design. And I liked the way you compared the old to the new!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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