pitfalls entrepreneurs should avoid 1

Getting a new website is exciting. Thinking about the colors, the styles, the layout, the endless possibilities. It’s understandable that you would want to jump into it feet first and hire an agency or freelancer quickly to build your new website.

But before you do, I wanted to make you aware of a few hurdles or problems you might face.

I’ve been running a website design and marketing agency for over 2 years now. Prior to that, I worked as a marketing freelancer for about 2 years and I’ve noticed a number of frustrations and problems with most website design companies and freelancers.

What are the common pitfalls you might face when hiring a web designer?

1. Believing in Common Website Myths

If you believe any of these common website myths you could actually be holding back the success of your own business. Below I’m going to go over some of the most common website myths I’ve heard.

I have spoken and worked with many small business owners at this point. When they’re getting the process of getting a new website started, there are certain mindsets that I see over and over again that can actually lead to a really underperforming or non-performing website.

There’s just a whole lot of misinformation out there and a lot of really limiting beliefs that can really hold your business back from reaching success so I want to get real with you and talk about these myths and the truths that you actually need to know.

1.1. “I can’t afford a good website”

Any business requires a certain amount of investment to be successful and a good lead and customer generating website is probably the best investment you can make in your business because it really can and should be the central hub of all of your marketing.

A lot of small businesses who don’t want to invest in a website end up going to something like Wix or Squarespace or a DIY web builder or even a cheap freelance designer who may actually give you a nice looking website but they probably don’t know anything about marketing principles and all the things that really go into a lead and customer generating website.

As a result, you end us with a “nice-looking” website that does not make you any significant money. So while it may seem like you are saving money at first, you are losing out on the millions of rands your website could have given you long-term. That’s the true cost of a cheat website with no solid marketing strategy as a foundation.

1.2. “I get all my business from referrals so I don’t really need a lead and customer generating website”

I hear this one a lot generally from clients who just kind of want that simple brochure website. They just say we need something to put up there but it doesn’t really need to do anything for our business.

While yes, referrals and word-of-mouth are great. There’s one problem with them. You will never dominate your competition with just referrals. Furthermore, they’re unpredictable and you really never know how many new customers or clients you can get on a monthly basis through traditional word-of-mouth. It just fluctuates too much and you’re really not in control of it and it opens you up to a very limited scope of audience.

With a strategic lead and customer generating website you can get in front of new people every single day, closely control what you’re saying to them and then ultimately drive them to take action.

1.3. “If people aren’t ready to buy today — it’s okay. They’ll just come back to our website when they are”

Well, the sad truth is 98% or more of your website visitors will never return again. Most of them are just in research mode so they’re checking you and 3-5 or more of your other competitors out. So unless you can make the most memorable impression, you’re likely just never to see them again. EVER.

That’s why it’s so important to really dial in and clarify your messaging so that the prospects who are coming to your website for the first time know exactly why you’re the best choice to help them rather than your competition.

2. Hiring a Web Designer With a Poor Understanding Of Your Business

A lot of website design agencies and freelancers don’t take the time to truly understand your business. They tend to focus on surface-level information e.g. how many pages do you need, what do you sell, how can people get in touch.

By only focusing on the basics, they will miss some really important information that could lead to you getting more inquiries and sales later down the road.

To design and develop a high performing website, your website design company or freelancer should really understand:

  • Your target market
  • The features of the products/services you offer
  • The benefits of these products/services
  • What makes you different from your competitors
  • Your future goals for the business
  • Your business marketing strategy
  • Any much more

Without gathering this information, it’s pretty much impossible to create a website that’s good enough to do what you want it to.

3. Not Thinking About Post Launch Ongoing Support

Another major problem with website design companies and especially freelancers is the level of support you get from them once your website has gone live.

It’s only natural that you’ll have a few questions and/or changes once your new website is live and you’d expect to be able to contact your website design company or freelancer for a little support.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Some agencies or freelancers feel that once your website is live, you are now on your own.

It’s sad, but it happens.

Why?

Most website design agencies and freelancers are project-based, not account-based like traditional ad agencies or IT support companies. They may not have the people and process in place to provide the kinds of ongoing enhancements and support that clients inevitably need like a support team or account managers.

4. Not Understanding the Importance of SEO

Search engine optimization or SEO will play a big part in the success of your website. It’s about how well your website follows the guidelines that Google set.

Most website design companies and freelancers understand and focus entirely on DESIGN. They tend to focus on making your website look good and leave the SEO stuff to you.

That’s ok if you know what you’re doing but wouldn’t it be good if your chosen website design agency or freelancer at least thought about search engines while building your website.

After all, you could have the best-looking website in the world but if your potential customers or clients are not finding you on Google or other search engines, then what’s the point?

5. Being Cheap

Unfortunately, bargain-basement rates are the kryptonite of many people who want websites but have little knowledge of how things work in website design. Once they see that a website design company or freelancer offers very low rates compared to the competition, they jump by chance.

The problem with cheap website design companies and freelancers is that you will truly get what you pay for. Building a website that generates leads and clients on a regulars basis takes a lot of time. Most good developers build up to 4 websites at max per month.

Now think about it, if you are being charged cheap fees for something that takes so much time, what shortcuts is the developer going to make. How motivated and invested are they in your website design project and the overall long-term success of your website? What sacrifices are you unconsciously making? – poor customer service, no traffic to your website long term, etc. 

6. Investing in Non-Responsive Web Design

The world wide web is a very mobile place, with worldwide mobile population usage at 67 percent (more than two-thirds of the total global population), with many more smartphones being used than desktop devices.

You want your website to appear well on all screens, so don’t leave your website design in the hands of a non-responsive website design company or freelancer.

7. Hiring a Web Design Freelancer

When it comes to building a new website or redesigning an existing one, most small businesses find it challenging to decide whether to hire a website design agency or a freelancer.

As a business owner, it’s crucial for you to have a successful online presence. However, you cannot achieve your target goals by simply having a website. If you want to be successful online, you need a website that is a perfect combination of great usability, attractive visual design, and engaging content.

In addition to this, you will also need to implement SEO marketing and possibly paid marketing tactics to beat your competitors. That being said, developing a functional business website that generates clients or customers requires experience, knowledge, and skills. Now you might be wondering how to hire the right professional to design and develop your website.

When it comes to website creation, you have two options:

  1. Hire a Freelance Web Developer
  2. Hire a Website Design Agency

If you’re ready to start a website development or re-design project for your business, the first decision that you will need to make is whether to work with a freelancer or a website design agency.

Choosing the right professional for creating a website can be an incredibly important decision for any business. To make the right decision, you need to consider the pros and cons of each option. But before we start figuring out all the pros and cons of these two options, let’s first understand the fundamental differences between the two main types of web developers.

7.1. Difference Between a Freelancer and Website Design Agency

The process of creating a website that generates clients or customers is quite complex, involving several phases such as website design, website development, content creation, SEO, and more.

A freelancer is a self-employed individual who isn’t committed to a certain company or agency. These professionals work as a web designer, developer, content writer, or even a blogger and is often an expert in one of those roles. A freelancer usually works from home and takes on several projects for different entities at a time.

A good website design agency, on the other hand, is a full-service company that specializes in developing websites among other services such as digital marketing. An agency employs a team of professionals who work towards a common goal of designing and building your website.

A website design agency has professionals who specialize in different aspects of website development such as graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, marketing specialists, and more. Now let’s find out the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer or a website design agency.

7.2. Pros and Cons of Hiring a Website Design Freelancer

The major benefit of working with a freelancer is the low cost. Many small businesses prefer to hire a freelancer because, in the short term, it seems cheaper than working with a website design agency.

Freelance web developers set their own rates and are often more flexible with the price. Freelancers charge less because they don’t have to manage overhead costs like staff salaries, office rent, and etc. They are after all, individuals with no team.

Besides this, working with a freelancer allows you to get more involved in the creative process. A reliable freelancer can also devote more time and attention solely to your project. However, there are also some serious disadvantages to hiring a freelancer for your project.

Here are some top of mind reasons as to why you should never hire a freelance website designer over a reputable website design agency:

7.2.1. Freelancers Probably Have Full-time Jobs or Other Priorities

Most freelancers use website development gigs as side hustles. Translation: you’re not their #1 priority. Or, they may squeeze your work in, in between tasks at their nine to five.

7.2.2. Freelance Website Designers Can Go Rogue

We have one client in particular who comes to mind when we think about this huge con. They invested thousands of rands (a deposit upfront before development) in a freelance website designer. This website developer disappeared with their money and left them with an incomplete and nonfunctional website.

There are more nefarious instances too where website developers hold websites hostage and continue to extort money. The downside is clear in both situations. Going with one single human carries more risk than a team or company with multiple professionals.

7.2.3. Freelance Website Developers Don’t Have Well Rounded Marketing Experience

Freelance website developers are skilled in that—building websites for businesses. They most likely are not well versed in marketing, the actual aesthetic design of your website, or UX. Some developers are pure coders, while others are rooted in graphic design and code.

If you hire a freelance website designer, you may not get the best advice about how to build your business website or rebuild it, especially if getting clients or customers for you is a top priority. When you work with an agency, they’ll have a marketing team to support your website in the most strategic way possible.

If having a website that gets you clients or customers on a consistent and regular basis is not something you care about, then this con may not matter much to you.

7.2.4. You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for. It may be tempting to go with a freelance website developer who charges half of the going rate. But you need to ask yourself, “why are they charging less?”.

You shouldn’t go with the most expensive option either, but shop around and find an affordable website designer who charges an affordable rate, has client reviews and portfolio items of work they’ve done in the past.

7.2.5. Managing Different Freelancers Can Be a Headache

A freelancer is a single individual who doesn’t have a team with different specialists. Unlike an agency that has a team, freelancers work solo which means that you are at the mercy of their schedule and the limitations of their skillset.

It is also most likely that you will need to hire multiple freelancers specializing in different aspects of website design, development, and marketing. Now you have to directly manage multiple people and be well experienced in website design and digital marketing.

7.3. Pros and Cons of Working with a Website Development Agency

Website Design Agencies enjoy more reputation in the industry. This is because full-fledged companies are registered with authentic organizations like the CIPC and you can easily find their client reviews online. They have a reputation to uphold within their community and among their industry peers.

A full-service website development and digital marketing agency will have its own content writers, web developers & designers, and SEO experts – all under one roof. Even if you have to pay more than a freelancer, you can save the cost of hiring multiple people to complete one project.

When different specialists work together on your project you get better results in less time. These agencies have access to advanced technology and better design and marketing expertise to provide you better service.

The only drawback of working with an agency is the cost. These agencies employ multiple specialists and invest in software, systems, and maybe even physical office space to be more and more efficient so of course, their rates will likely be higher.

7.4. The Verdict: Website Design Agency vs. Web Design Freelancer

As mentioned above, both options have some pros and cons. The decision of hiring a freelancer or agency largely depends on factors like the services you need, your goals, your budget, and the time frame that best suits your project.

If you consider the pros and cons of both options, clearly hiring a web development agency is a better option overall and in the long term. As compared to a freelance web designer, good website design agencies have the resources and support to take on a full-scale web development project.

You don’t need to hire multiple freelancers for your project. The agency will take care of everything from planning through deployment. Good web development agencies also provide digital marketing services to help you generate clients or customers and can manage your website for years to come.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many potential issues you will want to look out for when approaching website design companies and freelancers for your new website.

Be very careful to do your research before hiring a website design agency for your new project and please note, for reasons listed here, I don’t recommend hiring a freelancer for your website.

There are so many myths related to website design and digital marketing that I hear from small business owners and I just listed some of those above.

The reason for this blog post is for you to be more objective when making web design and marketing decisions and where to invest to have a higher ROI long term.

Your website is definitely one of those smart investments. Ever heard of Amazon.com? The e-commerce website that has created the richest man and woman on planet Earth. There you go. That is the potential of a good website with a solid model and marketing strategy.

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