There are dozens of companies and sites out there that boast you can create a professional website for free, or mere pennies. With these ultra-affordable options available, what’s the point in paying for a custom website? You might be surprised how many advantages there are to hiring a professional web developer to build a custom website design for your brand.
Here are 8 compelling reasons to hire an experience website developer instead of using a free website template.
1. Creating A Website is A lot of Work
At first glance, it might seem like choosing a free template(or even springing a few hundred dollars for a slightly better one) is a simple way to create a website for your business. What a lot of businesses owners don’t realize is that a template is an empty shell. It comes with no content, generic colours and images. Even built-in features such as a gallery, video library or social media feeds will be a blank slate that require work to get up and running.
2. Even a Template Requires Coding Skill
Populating and editing a template isn’t as simple as some template sites would have you believe. Most of the time, in order to get a website that accurately reflects your business, you’ll need some coding skills and a considerable amount of time and dedication. Therefore, even if you opt to use a template, you may run into obstacles in getting it assembled and putting it live.
If you are not tech savvy, you may want to consider using an agency to tailor your selected template to your specifications.Agencies have programmers on staff to customize even the most minute features so they appear the way you want. An agency will adjust content, colours, images, fonts, headlines, text size, URL naming, galleries, social media links, and whole lot more to your liking. Best of all, they have the experience and skills to do it properly, ensuring that your site functions seamlessly, no matter how many adjustments are made.
3. A Custom Website Design Reflects Your Branding
We’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover, even though we know we shouldn’t. Websites are much the same – they are judged based on how they look. When potential customers visit your website, its appearance is directly correlated to their impression of your brand. For many people, your website will be the first place they make contact with your business, so it’s crucial that your site makes a positive first impression, or your risk losing that prospect. A well designed site tells visitors your care about your business and the impression it makes on your customers.
4. A Custom Website Looks at the Needs of Your Business
If you don’t have any programming skills, you may be forced to adhere to a rigid site structure that doesn’t have any unique features that make your website shine and capture visitor interest.
Instead of purchasing a template and forcing your brand to fit within set constraints, an agency takes into account your brand, the features you’re looking for and the online goals you wish to achieve with your site.A custom website that is guided by an experienced agency will save you a lot of time in reaching your goals for your website.
Having a design that’s clean, simple to navigate, representative of your brand and has necessary CTAs will lead to visitors taking action – visiting more pages, filling out a form, calling you, downloading a whitepaper, shopping online etc. Having your site built by professionals with serious web experience will lead to real measurable results sooner than later.
5. Search Optimization From Experts Who Understand SEO
When you purchase a template you’re getting the bare bones of a website. You must populate it with your own content. While you may be an expert in your industry, you probably don’t know much about building a website or crafting content that will be indexed by search engines.
A web developer will allocate appropriate meta data, H1 tags, sitemaps, image data, site structure and dozens of other features that are often overlooked but impact search rankings. Top ranked websites will ultimately see a higher ROI as they attract search engine visitors, and are able to convert those visits into targeted sales leads.
6. Mobile Optimization That Follows Best Practices
Mobile devices are the way of the future. As we enter 2015, more than 55% of Canadians own smartphones. 60% of smartphone users say they frequently search for local businesses while on the go, and 80% say they often look up directions to local businesses. With so many potential customers seeking businesses this way, it’s essential to have a site that caters to this demographic, so you don’t miss out.
Though many templates will offer mobile solutions, to provide your customers with the best mobile experience, you will likely need to hire a web developer to ensure your site delivers an optimal mobile experience. Professional web developers know the best method of mobile optimization is responsive web design. Responsive web design requires programming that automatically alters your website’s layout. It is the recommended mobile solution by Google and leading web experts.
7. Continued Optimization After Site Launch
Web developers don’t simply set up your website and throw you to the wolves. As part of your website setup, website developers help you optimize your conversion funnel to capitalize on incoming visitors. They also install and set up tools that track and measure your traffic so that you can understand how many people visit your site each month, and how they interact with your site. Stats such as the bounce rate, time spent on site, the number of pages viewed, traffic sources, what your most popular pages are and how many people fill out forms or make a purchase can be used to further improve your site and ultimately the number of leads derived from your site.
At Eden, we believe that launching your website is simply the first stage of our job as your website developer. Once your site has been launched and begins pulling in traffic, we use web analytics data and other online tools to measure what’s working, and find areas of opportunity to make your site even better. Improving your site and finding what works best for your design, programming and content is an ongoing process that involves making constant tweaks as the Internet landscape and your customer base evolve.
8. Site Maintenance With Minimal Effort on Your Part
Maintaining your website is crucial to ensuring it offers up-to-date information to your customers and continues to perform well on search engines. Regular upkeep and maintenance takes time and effort you aren’t able to expend while managing the day-to-day operations of your business. With a free website, this may mean that your website lays dormant for months, losing any momentum you may have gathered on search engines, and also leaving visitors with the impression that you don’t put effort into your web site so why would you put effort into your customers?
If you work with a website developer, they often offer packages to maintain and continue to update your website for a monthly fee. This ensures that your website continues to generate the fresh content that search engines require and your visitors expect to see. It also means if something goes wrong and you experience any issues with your website, you can call your website developer for assistance in getting the issue rectified. With an agency on call there is always someone looking out for the best interest of your business and website.
Did you commission a custom website and web design for your business, or did you use a free template? We welcome your feedback on the pros and cons of hiring a website developer versus using a free or inexpensive template. Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.
Eden Advertising is an established Toronto marketing agency that specializes in providing clients with a wide variety of online marketing solutions, including custom website designs, programming and SEO copywriting. Check out examples of websites we’ve created for our clients. If you like what you see and are in the market for a new, professional website, call us at 1-800-844-0106.