I’ve always been really interested in web design. In fact, one of my first online businesses was a small web design studio that helped local clients get a basic web presence and start ranking on Google.
But a lot has changed since then, and many are wondering if we still need web designers in an age of free drag-and-drop WordPress page builders, cheap A/B-testing software, heat map insights, etc.
This is a massive topic about a huge industry that employs millions of people and so I want to treat it with a bit of caution and respect. I also want to avoid the ire of designers who are thoroughly sick of the old “Do I need a web designer?” debate.
Let’s jump in anyway.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. I’ll let you know which ones below. If you make a purchase through one I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend services I’ve used and love.
Why people used to hire web designers
Go back in time 15+ years and you’ll see a very different Internet.
Many companies, for example, didn’t have websites and as they started to realize that business was going to be done online, scrambled to hire a web designer to build a beautiful site that was on-brand and helped customers.
In those days there wasn’t much in the way of free platforms and things like WordPress themes were very limited in terms of how you could customize features and design elements without also needing to know how to write and edit code.
Just take a look at Blogger in 1999…
So, you needed help.
And so a web designer would often build something from the absolute ground up. They’d get a brief, come up with a draft design, get feedback, and then cut and splice it all up and turn it into a functional website. They might then manage it for the client, making changes and edits over time.
That involved knowing how to use things like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and then manage hosting environments, FTP uploading and so on and so forth.
It was a big job.
And then (as always) the technology improved
Nowadays, if you want to start a blog or build a website you can sign up to a self-hosting platform like Bluehost and get yourself set up on a premium WordPress theme in literally a few minutes.
You can drag and drop whole site designs using Visual Composer (aff) and similar, and even incorporate some pretty advanced elements like shopping carts with just a simple plugin or two.
Everything is a lot easier than it used to be, and so a lot of people started thinking that it was unnecessary to hire a web designer because the new technology allowed them to do much of it themselves.
This is a really positive thing in that it saved a lot of small businesses a lot of cash, and a really negative thing in that many web designers lost jobs while businesses created some pretty ugly and ineffective websites.
So what do web designers do today?
These days we’re seeing changes to almost every career in the world, and especially to those on the net.
Web designing is not immune to that and that’s meant freelancers and agencies had to expand or adapt to the technology such that, instead of just designing websites, they now do a whole host of tasks and services that expand well beyond their title might suggest.
If you hire a web designer or web design agency these day they might:
- Set you up on a template or design a fresh site
While you might get a fully original design, it’s also possible that your designer will set you up on an existing template or theme. This will usually save you a bit of money and you can choose when you hire them.
- Work on different branding elements
Your business might not just need a website but also a color scheme, logo, typography recommendations, and so on. Many agencies will encourage you to do all of this at once so you have a cohesive approach for your business.
- Helping you with SEO and promotion
Another area that many web designers have expanded into is search engine optimization which could mean installing plugins like WordPress SEO, helping you with local listings, and then even creating content for PPC campaigns and other promotional activity.
- Managing hosting, security and updates
Web designers also will often charge you an ongoing fee in order to keep your site safe, secure and up to date. That might mean just updating software, or it might mean managing things like your emails and any issues that arise with bounces and so on.
- A fully managed solution
Some web designers (and often this is done in-house) will also offer a fully managed solution where they take care of your whole online presence or a specific campaign. This might mean designing the graphics, landing pages, websites, adverts, etc. and then implementing the strategy through advertising on Facebook and other platforms. They then watch the metrics to see whether it’s converting and recommend changes.
As you can see from all of this, the job of the web design has not completely vanished into irrelevance. In fact, there are many situations where it’s important to engage one which we’re going to take a look at next.
So, do I need a web designer?
If you’ve made it this far you might be wondering whether or not you still need to bother hiring a web designer given that so much of the process is now made easy through site builders and plugins and other pieces of software that weren’t around even five years ago.
My answer? It depends on a few things:
- What level of expertise do you have?
The first thing you need to consider is that learning a lot of these, no matter how simple they are, will take you a lot of time if it is all brand new to you (here’s the story from my last re-design). This is tempting to a lot of small business owners because it saves you money, but it also takes time away from building your actual business. Choose wisely.
- What are you goals?
Are you trying to build a web company that you then sell for $120m (like Moonpig) or just something to keep you occupied as a hobby? If you want to build a serious company then you might want the expertise of someone who has studied it and worked in it for years.
- What is your budget?
Your budget has to feature in this decision, of course, and it will be a clincher for many smaller businesses or individuals. If you’ve just launched a business, however, please don’t choose the marketing and web presence as the place where you save cents. That is how you grow.
- What can’t you achieve without a designer?
It’s also important to look at the things you can’t achieve without a designer. For example, do you need custom graphics or logos or animations that you can’t do yourself? Importantly, if you were to download Photoshop and start to do these things yourself, would you be able to achieve anywhere near the quality that a professional could? Often the answer is no.
- What could you be missing out on?
The last thing I wanted to mention is that idea that, by doing it yourself, you could be missing out on some pretty serious conversions, subscribers, and sales. The expertise that a professional web designer can bring to a project is often underestimated, so it’s good to try and figure out whether or not you’re making big mistakes by going solo.
I’d just like to add here that not all web designers are created equal and just because you hire one doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get a good outcome for your blog or website. Often this is a case of “you get what you pay for” and it can take a long time to find the right person.
The experts weigh in on the future of web design
I really wanted to get some outside points of view before publishing this article as it’s such a huge scope and I knew there would be aspects that I hadn’t considered.
I jumped over to Inbound.org and posted the question which is currently on the front page and has had over 40 responses.
This one from Sherry at JV Media Design really stood out for me:
I’ve been in web design since close to the beginning of it (1995). This is not a new question as I can think of at least a few times over the last 20 years that it’s been asked.
To me, a web designer is skilled in not only modern website design as well as fundamentals of both UX and UI (not necessarily programming, but the visual aspect, as well as understanding flow, and functionality), but also how design isn’t just something that looks good – it HAS TO have a purpose. This is why I feel that web designers should also understand marketing.
Where I see most of these aspects (especially the marketing) seriously lacking is in DIY and pre-made themes/template options. I see most builders such as Wix targeted to small businesses. And that’s fine, because many small business owners do not set aside budgets for marketing. Many also seem to be okay with spending hours and hours of their own time fiddling with these builders, reading blog articles on marketing, taking online seminars, etc. Occasionally, some realize that their time is also money and that it might actually be better to pull in a pro to handle all of this for them.
Someone here mentioned using the Divi theme for building their own WordPress website. I challenge any small business owner who has no previous programming experience, no previous experience with WordPress themes, and no real experience with marketing (and how to reach their target audience through design and layout) to use that or any other complex (and popular) WordPress theme and build their own website with it. Basically, good luck. I believe many WordPress themes are built to perpetuate the need for WordPress developers. Then there’s also custom WordPress themes where you definitely have to have skills in order to pull off. This is all more development than design though.
So what you’re really talking about here are different audiences with different budgets and preconceived notions of the value of design. Companies like Wix and Weebly place a very low value on design. They basically tell their audience that a professional web designer has no value because you don’t need one to build your own “stunning” website. Their target audience is people with zero to very low budget who are easily convinced that design isn’t worth it and they can do it themselves. Larger companies are more apt to understand the value and experience a professional web designer can bring to the table.
This is such a fantastic summary of the issue from a professional web designer’s point of view, and really gives some good insight in to some of the aspects that are facing both web designers and their clients (and non-clients).
My only reservation is that, despite it being a potentially bad idea, I do feel like the market is moving away from needing web designers in favor of more independent solutions. I think the web design industry will need to be mindful of this constant change.
What do you think?
Have you ever used a web designer or are you the kind of person who prefers to go in by yourself and build, tinker and track all the results? I’d love to hear your points of view so please add to the discussion below or over on the Inbound thread. I’d really appreciate it.
Top photo © Daniel Villeneuve at Dreamstime
58 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
Web designers are still needed and still a critical part. This will never change. Just because you can google how to fix an engine, does that mean we don’t need car mechanics? Of course not. If you want it done right, you need a specialist.
Yes you can learn, but not everyone wants to become an experienced web designer by working full time for a decade in web development to gain the skills needed. You can’t google a skill.
You can watch someone fix an engine on youtube, but without any experience, you’ll probably blow up your engine if you try it. Likewise, web designers will make a far better website than any non-developer could ever do. Not to mention maintenance, hosting, design overhauls, optimization, monetization, etc.
You can learn some of these over time, but as a blogger, what do you want to spend your time doing, writing articles, or writing code? Most writers don’t want to write code, they want to write articles. Let a web developer and web expert handle those things so you can focus on delivering great articles and great content to your blog members and visitors.
Great comment and a really good example. I appreciate that effort, John. Thank you.
Sure Ramsay. I have come to recognize the value of time. I could spend days or weeks trying to update the site myself or I could hire someone to do it in hours, for example.
Time becomes money and when there is so little time, the most effective way to maximize this time is to hire others to take the tasks that are not your specialty so that you can focus on what you love most, matters most to you, and you are best at, in order to maximize the value of your contributions to your business (your blog).
Because although many don’t think about it like that, a blog is a business. If you run a blog like a business you will maximize the value to your readers, which is ultimately the real goal of running a blog. While income is certainly a factor, I don’t know anyone who started a blog who doesn’t love to write or at least who doesn’t love to provide valuable information to their readers. If they didn’t why would they choose blogging?
As a result, it is actually damaging to the business (your blog and your readers) to spend your time as a blog owner trying to figure stuff out on the development side all by yourself, when you could hire someone else to do the web development and website management, and you could be spending that time writing valuable articles and coming up with more great content for your blog.
Haha, I’m here doing PPC to find legit designers. Targeting big cities… Thanks for another well timed blog.
I’ve always thought after I build, rank, etc – I’ll start finding a designer.
Now I’m there and blop – you write about it. 🙂
Focused so much at catching up to spammers. My onsite SEO started slowing down my content.
Been doing more tinkering around the design – now it’s time to hit it hard. Hope to get into a production mode soon enough.
Networking with real people in this space is very challenging.
Keep it up
I’ve done it myself for years and I know how to code and market and do graphics. Yet, I have had times when I got a designer to help with color palettes.
If I look at the options on the market, a total noob could have a nice site up and running in a few weeks based on WordPress and a nice theme. And if they had a great looking logo, then they are ahead of the game. I’ve seen nice sites with crappy even pixalated logos. And you know how important I think a profile photo is for a web site.
The tools are available to learn marketing, development, and everything else a site needs. But for me I say it comes down to three things, time (do it yourself), money (hire a professional), and having an eye for design. I’ve seen people claim to have a great looking site and when I see it, I feel I’ve stepped back 20 years in web design.
I’m working on a new web design myself and one day I love it and the next day I don’t. It’s nice to have an offline space for developing a new site design (based on WordPress theme and my modifications) but I am at a point where I feel the need to hire a designer to look at it for a second opinion.
We can learn to do something or pay someone who knows. The older I get them more I just want to do the later.
The problem I think is that most of the people who do this are either not so good at it or spend too much time doing it instead of focusing on the business.
That’s perfectly well said. You can close the comments now because you just nailed it.
Ha ha. Cheers.
Ramsay, you blow my mind, this is so uncanny! I am taking this fantastic free course online with Convertkit (Tradecraft) on launching my business in 30 days. I am impressed with the phrasing of content, it causes me to write and say stuff. THis post of yours comes at the same time where I screamed out in the comments on Facebook! I am loving this course,… but doing WordPress…. I just can’t do it. Because of my post on Facebook, my classmates have been supporting me with some insight, nudging and really great feedback. YES we need WeBdesigners. They may not design as another had said, but they clarify and ….um handhold me through this language on WordPress I don’t understand. Jennifer Franklin is a great example of a designer giving me everything I need without asking for anything. I think I’ll hire her.
Yeah, save time. Move on with the business. I think that is perfect.
Another excellent, thought-provoking post, Ramsay.
I have always created and maintained my own WordPress blogs, but I hire experts when needed for critical tasks.
I built my very first website in static HTML way back in 2003. That was a valuable learning experience to say the least.
I learned which tasks I was capable of doing myself, but more importantly I learned which tasks I really needed to farm out to a pro.
Bottom line: I don’t think it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Striking the right balance is the key.
That sounds like a perfect summary of my view too. Well said.
Great topic as always ! I def think you do as a blogger ! I’m still on blogger and want to move to WP.. but o know it’s going to be spendy to transfer and get all set up …
It shouldn’t cost that much, and often your host will help.
I would definitely pay a web designer if I could afford to. And if I ever switch back to WordPress, paying a professional is a given, although that’s not necessary if you keep it simple.
But I changed directions in content after a year or so of blogging, so I like that there are affordable options for people still figuring out what their focus is. When I started my website, I hadn’t written anything since college, about 35 years ago. My first WordPress site used a free template and gave me a platform to practice with. I’ll also add that tech support at Bluehost was awesome!
I may not know exactly where I’m headed, but my traffic recently increased dramatically. Part of this, however, is my length of time online and the number of posts I’ve written—at least I think that’s true.
If you have a business, and you’re making money, or if you have the funds to hire someone, I say go for it. But no one should feel inadequate about having an out-of-the-box website. You never know what can happen with dedication and hard work. Then, when you have the money, celebrate by hiring a developer. I’m not there, yet, but I’m having a blast (and working hard) while my traffic grows. And keep reading Ramsay’s posts because he has helpful suggestions to try while you’re waiting for things to take off!
Always love your comments, Laura. Thank you.
As always, a top-notch post explaining alternatives clearly.
My only input is based on our personal experience.
I have always “designed our own sites”
Learned early on our readers are there for content, not colors or pretty, so we concentrated on quality content in demand from our market.
I do use the reasonable services of a professional web manager since we have a dedicated Server and I am not a ‘techie’.
He assures security and many mundane details while we provide content and answer comment.
Up to 10,500 replied to as of today.
But regarding design, this ‘ancient mariner’ has been able to drag and drop a site that appeals to our base.
However many today do not have the time and energy, as some of us old farts do, to ‘learn the ropes’
Over the years, people have used our knowledge to help GROW their website, which is probably a better place to focus rather than LOOKS!
Thanks again Ramsay for your excellent delivery.
Thanks, Chuck. I’d love to see how your site would benefit from an A/B test using VWO.com, however. Such good results you’ve had already.
Thank you, Ramsay
VWO.com has an impressive delivery.
Do not understand some of the language used… ~~smile
Our site naturally leads to conversions and watching the tour of VWO.com I do not see a clear advantage since we do not have a “Cart” on site.
Our list and readers grow daily and 80%+ open their email.
The impetus of the site was to share creativity, not necessarily SELL,
but the regular growing checks are nice.
In my niche. If I put two popups thay covered 80% of the websites, I’d never have anyone on my site. Sir I think your content would have an audience that wants to signup for things.
Not all websites work like the others.
I am going to weigh-in here, as this topic begs all kinds of related questions. Beyond the drag ‘n drop scenario we have some pretty speccy tools at our disposal these days-I think it has gone a lot further than ‘Divvi’ also. We actually can produce highly functional sites, with genuine business benefits currently.
I always prefer the term ‘Web Development’ to that of design-because we are actually talking about knowledge and insight into the digital world here, beyond ‘design’ of a plausible looking business entity, we need to specifically target our online existence to very particular audiences, and communicate powerful things to them.
The digital landscape has matured, business and topic specificity is now the critical point.
As Robert Pirsig noted: Quality is not a ‘thing’, it is an event.
Quality, meaning highly specialized communication successfully conveyed, invoking emotional, political, philosophical and physical response is the objective.
We have moved well beyond the concerns of mere ‘design’, we need to address the holistic range of intentions, and the execution of powerful communications.
We have arrived at a fulcrum point, where the mainstream corporate power structure has lost its dominant hold on the commercial, and social universe; what people label ‘disruption’ is the grasping of the idea that the gates of media production are now gaping widely-it is up to us to understand this and use every tool at our disposal to build and define our authentic visions.
I’m going to weigh in, your website has an image from pexel.com on it.
I do too, but I use it to capture your eye and photoshop a badass dashboard on it too…
Disruptive means what it means. If you’re building tech to only be distributive in ranking your website.
And pushing business problems on customers instead of owning it…
I think you can be disruptive. And have disruptive tech, and also take care of your employees – freelancers – and not be completed dibitating to a good niche that only for a meh tech.. Meh. And boom no more X, Y, Z… And only .02% of the world will notice…
And only .001% will care to say anything about it.
And .000001% will actually say it out loud or try to do anything about it.
In my opinion your opinion weight drifted towards protecting the ones making mistakes.
Like an older IT professional protects Windows – we get it you own some layers and have some recoccuring thing and theme is the computer breaks, we get you to fix it. Great.
Now everyone buys MacBooks and IT pros are trolling the web when the convo arises… Are we not doing the same here?
You said it perfectly. If I ever think my content may become a something, I’d employ a web designer, but for now, I have to fumble through WordPress or Squarespace or Wix or whatever.
Grate post, in my view i would suggest bloggers or small business owners to go with self designing once they start getting some business from online then they must look for few premium and professional help and futures
I feel I’m better at photoshop than most get doing it professional. But it doesn’t make me a designer.
Good at clicking a product to make things look great, follow a pattern, or palette. Doesn’t turn clients.
And if you’re developer – chances are you’re not a good designer. Ouch sorry.
And if you’re a hella good developer – you’re probably saying right now ‘I’m an amazing designer’ and you probably don’t have a ton of designer friends giving you feedback.
Devs are too good not to be good at silly design, a tiny boring piece of the complex baby you build.
Sorry I’ve just known thousands of developers. None have been amazing designers. And the most amazing designers I’ve not been able to work with because they were terrible project managers.
Tell me – ‘you wrong.’
And I’ll say, ‘OK – can I work with you!’ Lol
Maybe I want to give graphic designers a lot more credit – and feel once you’ve built the shell, if you’re looking to add a % increase – it really makes sense to invest the money into it.
You get what your pay for.
I’ve spent so much on offsite, and time testing every aspect of SEO on and offsite… internal linking, writing more, changing keywords, my content morphed quickly.
It’s like music production. Producers don’t mix and master their music because your brain plays a trick on you.
Your brain doesn’t allow you to hear the song anymore. You brain adds things to the song because you have slaved away at it.
I’m sure you’re savy AF, I felt that way too for a long time. Never met anyone with 20 years of programming and 15 yrs design until I started reading comments in blogs.
I’ve been humbled. And I think as a music producer – I have to consider it for what it is. A shitty WordPress blog, and it needs to be better – and probably not WordPress too… But I think you just have to max out something really big… To make that transition.
But if you can afford it, investor, bootstrap barter, etc.. Do it. I should have done it sooner. Just talking to designers past two weeks and seeing portfolios. I’m already machine learning their methods from their website by simply using it.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to go tinker. I think it’s safe to say I would hire a days architect to do my job, so why am I trying to pretend I’m the guru here – having Adobe – well that’s just not enough when you want to go big.
I think my website is a good demonstration of being in development mode. Going production. Hiring team mates. Finding more verticles.
Maybe I’m better than I thought – but just barely looking I’m already feeling like I wasted time hehe
Anyways – my site has all this SEO shit on it.
Now that the power is there and we have enough analytics we’re able to rank moderately quickly..
I don’t think there’s any amount of self teaching you can do to put yourself side by side someone with 5+ year of experience optimizing large traffic sites.
Instead of self teaching or wix/wordpressing every aspect – I believe more should speak of the designer as a high dollar entity – and regrettably companies that offer adhoc are wrecking the authenticity and rank ability of any regular designer…
Like I said tl/dr
I really feel now I’m venting a bit about how wix – per the quote above in your blog – and other companies have built merely disruptive ranking tech – not impressive design tech…
So now, they monopolize these niches to the point that no one can keep their bill rates – and I am constantly left with the task of needing referrals to determine if they are real, or just 1 person controlling 300 accounts.
I’m totally over companies building meh tech and toted for kings for destroying service niches – pushing their business problems on users Vs owning their biz ecosystem…
Interview people. Don’t just let them sign up and water down a market place. Which is another big problem.
Take photography for example.
The knot.com is just a spyder web of links and a strategy to rank.. Leads or not, you don’t get competition. Users not getting leads Google it, go to the site, and that’s it. That’s their site. Similar to any big adhoc consulting companies. It’s a lot of people who don’t have work, sitting on the site, wondering why they don’t get work. Further pushing designers from keeping a bill rate, or any traffic.
Let’s blame SEO a bit for designers not being toted for awesome. Sorta like labels run the industry – and musicians work for them.
I think there should be a primary search. And a spam search.
Next Google update – would be much cleaner, if we cleaned up what ranks by what.
Then we could find premium designers, vs a few job killers outsourcing back to the same company and owning % revenue on a few hundred accounts.
Hopefully we can see something change. Haha time to be quiet and get back to it.
I hear there was an algorithm update just recent.
It helped us a lot. 🙂
Keep it legit!
Sorry to do another bro. Just wanted to read it again because I know I missed the quote and scanned a few sections. My fault.
Sorry for rambling again. Just been learning to beat enterprise ranking – and now I’m seeing all the big problems – hell I can even find someone who bills $200 an hour for graphic design. Ugh, maybe this post will send one my way.
If you could edit that even barely – I’ll send you some flowers. Wrote it on my phone and I didn’t catch any of that.
🙂 yep I typed that much on my phone – I’m a big fan. Take notes.
Yes, I agree, it depends. For me personally, I do not have a lot of budget but I know a little about design and I am in the process of improving my wordpress skills so it’s hitting 2 birds with one stone. Although I must admit this is sometimes exhausting because as soon as I am done completing or updating my web design tasks I do not have the energy to write my blog entry.
You and me both brother. Try doing a LinkedIn pitch for designers. Just seeing a bunch of designer websites made my brain race.
Happy to help with any advice. WordPress ramp up is a bit*h and I totally know where you’re at.
Get on tumblr, blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, and not just Facebook. Make sure you get every URL out there.
You want to always build blogs when you have the idea, release it, tell Google, and edit.
Never wait. I have hundreds of friends wondering how I did it, and every day I just kept saying – blog about it.
Blog about your dog pooping, point it at your website. End of year. Your can rank for whatever the hell you want locally. (Unless you’re crazy like me and want to rank on heavily spammed terms)
Use Yoast. I wish I upgraded to premium faster. Also wish someone told me to do long titles, with multiple variations of the words people need to type to find you.
My friend owns a animal company. Wants to rank for ‘animal repair’ for example… I’m looking at his entire website. Doesn’t even say it once…
Remember you are what you type.
Gosh wish someone would have leveled with me and just told me to do one YouTube video a day.. I fell off that system because I founder better help for my niche.. Sometimes it’s hard to find the blog that just says – get your page index and use Yoast.
Really hope this helps you.
It helped, great comment man!
I will say that the Web designers are still needed because a blogging or running a company is not one man show. There need to be different people fro different works and same applies for the web designers even today.
Ramsay, hope you are well.
I will share my real-life scenario here, which I am facing in literally last two days.
I am fine with the basic wordpress and basic designing using a good quality theme etc. I have done it for 3 years and managed/run my whole blog myself with SiteGround.
But every now and then, due to changes, tweaks, plugins and theme updates, I have always stumbled on memory issues, white screens and errors etc. Something like this happened again and I am stuck.
I will end up spending hours and hours to sort it out between different parties like my host, theme developer and possibly plugin developer. This is counter-productive for bloggers.
I think for me personally, the web designing and development is around troubleshooting, managing and maintaining the blog/website. I am happy to pay someone now to solve this issue for me but can’t find anyone because I have not built my relationship with the designers yet. So all bloggers should keep in mind that if they have ambitious plans to grow, they will need design and development at some stage of certain degree.
Have a nice weekend ahead, cheers.
Thanks once again for an amazing post.
When I started out my first blog, I didn’t have money for anything – we were struggling to survive at home too and I “took a chance on blogging.”
So I did not have money to hire a web designer and had to learn everything myself. I will definitely not say that I know as much as a Web Designer and can still just do the basics to set up a site.
BUT I must say, if at that stage I had the money to hire a Web Designer, even with WordPress (and others) being so simple to set up – I would definitely have done that. I’m not a slow learner, but there are so many things to learn and I had to learn all that, plus photo editing, plus SEO, plus everything else as well as write regular blogs and work as well = SUPER FAST BLOGGER BURNOUT.
I think that’s why most people give up at the beginning.
My most popular words in that time was “Say Whaaat?” because even if I read something 10 times, I could not remember what on earth they were talking about because of the concepts being completely new and unknown.
And I believe in the end, if I had a Web Designer to do that for me, my blog would have grown a lot faster in the first year and not 3 years later because after designing the site and everything that comes with it (like emails), comes the next thing to learn = marketing.
Thumbs up for Web Designers – you guys are awesome!!
Blessings in abundance
I think you nailed the question with points 1 and 2: it’s all about how much expertise somebody has and also which goals are set. Essentially based on that, it is possible to decide to hire or not a web designer. As usual, great article and reflexions!
[ Smiles ] Ramsay, genuinely believe that we still need professional web designers, because they can guarantee that our themes are cleanly coded and SEO-friendly.
I have been working as a UI Designer and Front-End Developer for about 14 years. One year ago I started a blog with my wife.
She writes (I barely write) and I take care of everything else to keep things working.
I was hired many times to create blogs or just a blog layout, but just that. And now I am in both sides I ask myself if many others bloggers keep working with designers in their blogs/online business.
I got to say that it is a lot of work to do, and even I can do design and code I need to be fresh with SEO, Web Trends, Marketing … and of course apply this in my blog/business.
I really don’t think that run a website of success is a one person jobs.
Great post as always.
A few years back I paid for my website to be designed as I have no experience in it. Turned out pretty good, but don’t really have the funds to continue paying someone to continue up-dating the site with current videos and info. So my site has fallen behind, is in need of updating and I don’t know how to do it myself and yet I want to.
Fast forward to today where I would like to begin blogging with all information, videos, audios in my subject matter. Heard WordPress is a wiz to get up and running. In fact most things I read said I could have a DIY blog up and running in just hours…….NOT! Got my blog name from Go Daddy and started in. I was totally over my head so I went onto Fiverr and paid someone in a foreign country to at least get it started. Also paid him to do an instructional video for me, which was actually incredibly helpful. I would love to have the funds to hire someone to complete it and keep it running, however then once again I don’t know how to do anything myself. And that really ties my hands because I want the knowledge and freedom to change things when I want. Hate that all the info says how easy WordPress is. Yes, when you have some background in it. My business flows easily for me, but I also was educated and trained in it. WordPress is not for the beginner especially for an older generation who didn’t grow up around electronics. Very frustrating because I will have to hire someone, but really what I need is to hire someone to train me to at least take care of the basics of uploading new info, connecting with affiliate links, inserting links into my material, etc…..Frustrated!
I feel your pain, Kim. WordPress can be frustrating for those who don’t have a lot of experience with it.
That being said, it really is fairly simple once you get the blog infrastructure installed and running the way you want it to run.
If I may give you just one bit of advice, it would be to make your first investment in a high quality theme “framework”.
I use and recommend Genesis, but there are other great ones out there as well.
I’ve found that frameworks are much easier to customize than most of the free themes you’ll find in the WordPress theme repository.
And buying the Genesis Framework along with a child theme will allow you to retain any changes you make to the child theme even when the parent Genesis theme is updated, which it is fairly often.
Another plus for Genesis is their themes are responsive right out of the box. That means your blog will look great and load quickly on mobile devices without having to install a special mobile theme or plugin.
Even if you still decide to hire a designer to tweak your blog, starting out with a Genesis parent/child theme combo will likely save you a ton of money in the long run since they are so easy to customize. Several of the most important design changes are literally as simple checking a box on the “Settings” page.
Whatever CSS changes need to be made can usually be made to one file: the child theme’s “style.css” file.
Something else to consider is how the major web browsers (and Google for that matter) are now pretty much requiring our blogs to be SSL (https) encrypted, even if we don’t collect sensitive data via a form.
Luckily, even enabling SSL on a WordPress blog is a pretty simple process nowadays thanks to free, auto-renewing SSL certificates via “Let’s Encrypt” and “AutoSSL”.
If you have a decent web host they can install AutoSSL and your certificate for you in about 10 minutes, and they’ll probably do it for free.
Once the certificate is installed a plugin called Really Simply SSL will do the 301 redirects from http to https and handle (most) of the mixed content issues for you.
What I’m saying is a lot of this can be done by yourself (or your web host) for free. Then you can just hire someone on an as-needed basis to take care of any odds-and-ends that you need help with.
You’ll find tons of free and competent help in the various WordPress forums. All you have to do is ask. In fact, many common questions have already been answered. Just browse the forums or search for your specific topic.
As far as the actual blogging is concerned, the web is chock full of great sites that deal with that topic (Blog Tyrant being one of the best in my opinion).
I hope this helps, Kim.
Another great post!!
I really enjoy reading your post and every time i learn new things form your post. I want to share my personal experience. I am not a web designer but know a little bit of HTML and CSS coding. I designed my website on WordPress. So, i didn’t get any difficulty. My younger brother is a web designer and he also runs a website on WordPress platform. But, his site design is 100 time better than my site. Than i handled my site to him for redesign my site. Now, my site looks perfect. So, it definitely has to say that, a designer is a designer. Thanks for sharing a great post.
I just started my sixth blog. I am graphic and web designer for whole my life. I really do believe that clever, not necessarily pretty, but clever design can make a lot of difference in a blog’s success. It can play a big role.
That being said, my blog looks like trash. It just doesn’t feel like a priority right now.
Design of a blog should be a vehicle for your MOST AWESOME CONTENT. I really believe that nothing in our blogging endeavors should come without planning it first. There must be phases for everything, and they should empower each other.
So, no point in having a relationship with a web designer if your blog isn’t somewhat of a brand already.
That being said, you should treat your blog as a business. Which only means when the time comes you SHOULD invest in a design and user experience. The kind of an investor/business mindset will force you to invest in your blog’s design. When that time comes, you won’t lose your time in Drag and Drop editors. You will create your next product or network with influencers.
So…umm…any suggestions on places to go for web site design?
Web design business has changed alot like you mentioned. But ofcourse, to me, i believe its important to always hire a pro regardless if you have an idea or not because those guys know what you don’t know. But if money is something you have NOT, then do it yourself.
I’m a big fan of strategizing what’s required in a situation. However, I think from a business growth standpoint, if a business owner needs a full-time web designer because the nature the business nature is SAAS or E-commerce, even then both the custom web designs and site-building tools are necessary.
I have a first-hand experience of managing WordPress-based blogs. These site builders and CMS solutions don’t guarantee that you don’t need the professional assistance from a web designer/developer. It comes down to an individual whether he or she is willing to spend 4 hours at some point to make a change or he or she can afford a web designer who could get it done instantaneously while you can manage other stuff.
So it may vary from person to person.
I work for a marketing agency, and we have several designers on staff. And even though I’m a programmer (and therefore don’t do much design), I agree with Sherry 100%. Designers are still very much needed. At least for people who value design and can afford to hire an expert. If you’re just starting out and have zero budget, then a free or cheap theme will do just fine (at least in the beginning).
Sherry was dead-on when she talked about certain people realizing that time is money, and that it would be cheaper for them in the long run to hire an expert. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a client ask us to build a basic website, and then they’ll take things from there.
About 95% of the time, they end up paying us to do everything for them. And I’m not just talking about difficult stuff like creating a compelling logo, I’m talking about simple things like updating text on a page. I guess they realize that their money is better spent on having an expert manage their site while they manage other aspects of their business.
This is very good and well explained article. Thank you for that.
As you know, bloggers are always busy. Because, they need to write post regularly, they need to promote their blog on social media and other channels.
So, it is very tough to design a blog ownself for them.
In my opinion, bloggers should focus on building their blog and designing and other similar tasks should be done by freelancer.
Marketing92 is a It Company in Lahore, Pakistan. Providing their Services all over Pakistan. Our Aims is to deliver Quality Services to Our Clients. Our Key Services are Web Development in Lahore and Branded SMS in Lahore.
This is a great post I love it when I saw this mail do we still need a webdesigner I was confused which definitely will say yes… Not because I ‘m a webdesigner… what I make people understand is that webdesign is not just Learn html css well as the industry is still concerned webdesigner are still needed because they have advance knowledge of programming.
Thanks Ramsay. So far I have not needed the service of a designer. I prefer to tinker around myself. I guess it’s because I am just a hobby blogger. However, I believe designers are indispensable when it comes to running an online business, no matter how small. I say focus on creating and improving your content and brand while a designer helps you make your products available to people, strategically.
Thank you for this article.
I’ve had a web designer do my site on WordPress and it was exactly what I needed and how I pictured it would be. However, I found it confusing to maintain and I honestly didn’t have the extra cash to have the designer tweak things on the site when needed, at the times I needed them.
So, I let that go and now I am starting from scratch & learning little by little. However, I would really like to be focusing more on the business itself. 🙁
Web designers will always be needed, no matter how much we improve on our skills, we just can’t Google anything as there are some deep technical issues that can only be solved by professional web designers, they will be needed even after years.
By the way, Very Interesting to read.
~ Atinder S Gill
I am working for a web development firm. Without a web designer, we have no idea what it is going to look like . ( Btw I’m not a web designer ). I don’t think that ‘Web Designing’ is going to vanish soon.
Based on my experience as a developer, an effective turn key solution for a business does not exist. However, foundations as a turn key solution do exist. And this is what role tools like WordPress fill.
WordPress is built around a core set of features. Pages, posts, users, etc.. This is usually enough to get most companies going. But there will always be more.
Business cases and processes are different. And as such, those businesses need an expert to analyze their needs and build them a solution that helps them make money.
This is the core attribute for any web professional. Analyze business requirements and build solutions that maximize profits. Sometimes those solutions start with a prebuilt tool, but that is rarely enough
I think web designers will always be needed if you really want a bring you website on the first page of search engines….I have never hired a web designer and build my own website for blogging but now I am planning to launch a ecommerce website which needs lot of work…web designers can really help in designing complex website…yes financially one has to be strong to hire web designers…money makes money…if you really want to excel in online business you will need to spend money..!! thanks for this useful post..!!
I often think that the human race has become far too focussed on aesthetics and cosmetics and this has leached into every aspect of life, including how much more important our website looks over the quality of the product or service provided.
When was the last time you looked at a website or blog and critiqued the actual product or service offered?
In reality you are now hard wired to look at the logo. The font. The color palette. None of which is really that important when someone is having sleepless nights and is looking for help.
The deeper you go down the blogging and marketing rabbit hole the more cynical and perfectionist you become.
That is the way of the beast and has little or nothing to do with customers, products or services.
It’s a marketers thing. It’s a bloggers thing.
It has become so entrenched that I see many websites and blogs who are servicing the general public of none bloggers but who treat and market to their audience as if they were bloggers.
As bloggers we are all keen to learn so we spend a great deal of time around other bloggers or we are immersed inside an environment online that isn’t generally frequented by the general public….or your real audience.
This is a conflicting environment for many niches.
We pick up bad social and marketing habits, follow unrelated or irrelevant advise and tend to follow what works for the blogger who blogs to other bloggers but doesn’t necessarily work for the guy who just wants to learn how to swing his golf club correctly.
The industry is self-perpetuating and mostly serves its own ego.
This environment tends to place us into a particular marketing bubble with a particular one track focus of perfection and it clouds our judgement about what our own audiences really want to see, read, hear and receive from us.
If you run your blog the same way that a blogger who blogs to other bloggers runs their blog then you run the risk of alienating your own audience because you are satisfying the opinion of another blogger rather than your own audience needs.
An ordinary member of the general public who knows absolutely nothing about blogging but who is interested in your fitness video or fitness ebook isn’t interested in where you position your sidebar, or what goes into your sidebar, or what widgets work best, or what color palette you use, or what font you use, or whether the offer is above the fold, ………….or whatever else the blogging world thinks the general public want to see.
There is a constant flow and supply of what works and what doesn’t or what we should be using or what the search engines prefer or what gets you blacklisted or what generates a red flag or what is pleasing on the eye.
Most of it is snake-oil that serves no real purpose in the real world.
Most of it is also irrelevant for most of us as bloggers because it has no bearing on our own audience.
They don’t want to see those shiny new things.
They aren’t really that interested in your font type or size.
Just give him his bloody ebook.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to take those blogging goggles off for a few days, take a step back occasionally from this blogging bubble and place yourself back into the shoes of your real audience.
When was the last time you looked at a website as a customer.
Try it or ask your kids or grandpa what they thik of a website or blog.
I bet they don’t mention or even notice or care about your font or that your opt in form is below the fold.
They will discuss the product or service provided or offered because that is what they are on your site for.
They are not perfectionist bloggers.
They are book worms.
They are fitness freaks.
They have acne.
They suffer from migraines.
They are going through a divorce.
They are crap at golf.
They don’t have a girlfriend.
They can’t apply their own makeup.
They are stressed and need some meditation lessons.
Focus on what they need and not what makes your site look good to another blogger.
They are not interested in your font or your colour palette or your logo design or how many words you wrote in your last post or how many keywords you used…….unless they are a cynical perfectionist blogger.
They are consumers of your products and services so stop approaching them, treating them and marketing to them as you would approach, treat and market to another blogger.
They see, hear and interpret things from a consumer/user perspective and that perspective is not the same as a cynical bloggers perspective.
Yes, glean what you can from your time spent inside that blogging bubble but burst that bubble as soon as you leave it and put your audiences shoes back on.
Perhaps then we can turn around the supposed 96% failure rate that bloggers experience.
Thanks for the article and I think we don’t need web designers in these days this is a kinda internet time everyone can learn anything and start doing it by own.
Howdy Ramsay Sir!
According to me, if you have spare time then due to the advancement of technology any non-techy guy can develop a decent website with the help of available free resources on internet….
But… If you do not have spare time for web development then hiring a person is also not a bad choice! Many productive persons always hire talent to work for them…
Thanks for your great stuff! Keep it up the awesome work!!
When ever this topic comes out there is always debate. I am writing this comment after lot of thoughts.
First of all web designers are not just people who do CSS. There is varied level of specialty when it comes to UI/UX designers and developers. Human computer interaction is a very wast topic and all the computer vision comes under it, computer vision is under going many changes due to work in AI.
I always comes down to it depends. I understand,due to themes and plugins you might not need a web designer.But asking suggestion from designers is good as they have great idea of what works and what doesnt work for different type of audience . Web designers are always required in tech startups(google,amazon,facebook) where scaling of products is a major issue and it requires experts.
I’m still stuck with designers, the final project is always better with a good designer