What’s Best for a Small Business Website: Website Builder, Agency or Freelancer?

Creating a website for your small business is a long-term financial investment.

It can help you gain more leads and customers, and make your business grow. But where do you start? What if you don’t have an in-house web developer yet?

Some advertisements tell you to try easy-to-use website builders, while some recommend WordPress.

Which is better?

In this in-depth article, you’ll learn the major factors to consider when building your business website. Although all options for website development have advantages and disadvantages, choose the one that fits your business goals and priorities.

Quick outline for this article:

  1. Factors to consider when choosing how to build your website
  2. Advantages and disadvantages of website builders
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing to a web design agency
  4. Advantages and disadvantages of hiring a freelancer
  5. Final thoughts for making the decision

Factors to Consider when Building a ‘Complete’ Website

Not all websites are created equal. Some are fast and mobile-friendly; some are not. And it depends on how it’s built and managed.

So here are some major factors to consider for your potential website.

1. Usability and User-Friendliness

A good website makes it easy for a visitor to browse the website and get what he’s looking for. If buttons are not working or your links direct visitors to a blank page — they’ll likely leave.

According to recent web design statistics, online businesses report that 70% of visitors abandon their shopping cart due to poor user experience (UX).

At the same time, a business website should be responsive for all users.

Studies show that 71% of users still browse using desktop devices, while 29% use mobile devices. And according to HubSpot, 93% of people have left a website because it didn’t display properly on their device.

Image source: Site Jet

2. Load Speed

Usability also involves how fast it takes for users to see your website content. A 2018 study by Forbes shows that 39% of users will stop engaging if your website takes too long to load.

To give visitors the best experience and impression, your website should load within 2 seconds.

3. Aesthetics 

Visitors are also more likely to engage based on the web design. The brand image, color, layout, fonts, and navigation affect the user experience and purchasing decisions.

According to Smart Insights, the website reflects your business, while the design gives users the first impression of what you offer. And 48% of users cited web design as no. 1 factor in deciding the credibility of a small business.

4. Content

Another important factor in a business website is rich content. In her article for Lifewire, Jennifer Kyrnin mentioned that “content is king.” Stunning design attracts visitors, but content explains and convinces the person to buy.

Content can be a text, image or video. Your potential website should allow you to put any content consistently.

5. Web Maintenance, Insights and SEO

Your solution for building a website should include internal maintenance. This refers to: 

  • Software updates
  • Server uptime
  • Speed optimization
  • Website backup
  • Security 

These affect the overall website performance.

For instance, Smart Insights found out that Google also considers website security in deciding which website to show first on search results. Poor website security means less organic traffic and leads.

At the same time, you should be able to gain insight on what’s working or not, including search engine optimization (SEO). Performance insights can help you make improvements on your website.

6. Growth 

To keep more leads and customers coming, you need to consistently grow your website. Aside from advertising it on Google Ads or social media, you must also adjust its layout based on performance and market behavior.

At the same time, you should be able to create more content that people can share and link to. This gives your website more direct visitors and better search engine ranking. According to Neil Patel, that is still the best and most effective way to gain more website visitors and customers.

Image Source: Neil Patel

Don’t create a website just to have a static brochure. You should build a website that grows along with your business.

7. Cost-Efficiency

Obviously, you’re concerned about the costs. Will the solution you pay for give the results you expect?

The cost of building a website is usually based on three factors:

  • The platform or software you use (e.g. WordPress, Wix)
  • The additional plugins or tools for specific functions (e.g. WooCommerce for e-commerce sites)
  • The time needed to complete the website.

Since your business website should grow over time, consider the long-term cost of maintaining and developing it. Not just the initial cost of launching it.

Now let’s make these the basic criteria for comparing the 3 top choices for building a business website: 

  1. Website builder
  2. Web design agency 
  3. Freelance web developer.

Creating Your Business Website with Website Builders

Almost anybody can now create a professional, stunning website without any knowledge of HTML or CSS codes. 

A website builder is a WYSIWYG tool — which stands for “what you see is what you get.” When designing a web page, you simply drag-and-drop web content elements like text or image into the exact place where you want it to be.

Examples of website builders are: Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.

Advantages of Website Builders

The biggest advantage of website builders comes with the ease and convenience of building the website. In comparing between Wix and WordPress, WPBeginner explains that a Wix user doesn’t need to spend much time learning how to use it before starting to build a website.

You can learn it in less than an hour.

And you can use its available templates instead of building from scratch. This ensures that your website is user-friendly and impressive to visitors.

At the same time, website builders are easy to set up. In her article for Template Monster, Armela Escanola claims that you can create a website in less than 30 minutes.

This is best for small businesses who want to get online as soon as possible.

Disadvantages of Website Builders

Websites created by website builders include good speed, web maintenance, and performance monitoring. But most of its drawbacks relate to custom design, growth and cost-efficiency.

WPBeginner believes that website builders lack flexibility in achieving custom layouts and aesthetics. More complex designs and functions of a website are more achievable through codes (e.g. HTML, CSS, PHP).

At the same time, website builders have limitations on website growth and development. 

Since the plugins and tools are exclusive within its platform, what you’re looking for might not be included there. For instance, one experienced that many website builders do not include full search engine optimization (SEO) tools as part of its basic plan.

Another review on Wix explained that although the website builder provides a cheap starter plan, it’s more costly in the long run. If you need more features in your website, it has a ‘marketplace’ for plugins and integrations which will add more to your basic costs. 

And if you choose to migrate it to another hosting, it can be complicated to convert and export your website files.

Working with a Web Design Agency

Another good option is to work with a web design agency. An agency is usually a team of web designers, developers, graphic artists, and content writers that work together in building an entire website.

Advantages

Web design agencies typically use content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Magento in building websites from scratch. As web developers in a Quora topic explain, it achieves more custom and user-friendly designs without restrictions.

And in case you need to migrate to another hosting company, exporting websites built with CMS is a lot easier.

Another advantage with agencies is their ability to produce faster and more reliable output. Since a team will be working on your business website, you can expect a greater set of skills and collective efforts from them.

Lastly, working with agencies provides greater flexibility for growth and cost-efficiency compared with standardized plans in website builders. 

Most agencies provide custom quotes based on your business goals and preferences. You pay only and exactly for what you need. 

And if you want to grow your business website in the future, you can build a long-term partnership with them.

Here at Marketing by Rob, for instance, our web design services for small businesses come with a monthly subscription that offers unlimited website revisions and access to 1000+ of plugins. As your business grows, you can make ongoing requests for changes and improvements in your website.

Disadvantages

Although the technical aspects of building a website are all covered by a web agency, it can still affect your business operations.

One obvious disadvantage is your loss of some control. As explained by Small Business Trends, outsourcing projects keep you from seeing when and how tasks are performed.

And since the agency is an independent team, you may need to adjust your project time frames based on their progress.

Of course, communication is key. Frequent and open communication is necessary to make sure you still get the results you want.

Hiring a Freelance Web Developer

Working with a freelancer is much the same as working with an agency. A freelance web developer usually works from home, working on a variety of website projects from different people.

You can hire a freelancer in many ‘freelance marketplaces’ like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. 

Advantages

Similar to a web agency, most freelancers know how to build a website according to your preferred design and functions. They can optimize your site’s speed and SEO, social media integration, and more.

As long as the web developer is using codes, there’s no limit to what he can do for you.

Now one big advantage with a freelancer is the flexibility of time. With no boss, they often work on their own schedule — even going overtime. As one discussion on Quora mentioned, good freelancers can work faster independently as long as they already know your requirements and expectations.

Another advantage is the minimal costs compared with hiring an in-house developer. With a freelancer, you no longer have to pay for training or vacation times.

Lastly, working with a freelancer involves a more personal touch than with an agency. As one freelancer explained, a freelancer assumes personal responsibility and control on every aspect of the project.

Disadvantages

Outsourcing your business website to a freelancer also minimizes your control. You must keep open communication to stay on top of the progress and output.

Another downside is the limited skills and capability. While agencies can work on a project with a pool of diverse people and talents, a freelancer only has individual experience and personal ideas.

Further, the greatest fear and disadvantage is the freelancer’s commitment. According to Internet Marketing Tips, a freelancer working remotely can leave the project anytime without anyone knowing it.

And you can do very little about it.

Compared with a registered agency, a freelancer has little legal accountability you can count on. But as one businessman suggested, in case you find a good and reliable freelancer, try to stick to him for a long time and build common trust.

Choose Based on Your Business Goals and Priorities

All 3 options have advantages and disadvantages. And ultimately, it depends on the goals and priorities of your small business.

Why do you want a business website in the first place?

If you want to just get your business online, without any definite goal of growing soon, then a website builder will do fine. It will cost you $60-$100/year.

But if you want more flexibility at a low cost, you can try working with a freelancer. This could cost you $1000-$3000 per website. Just make sure you look for someone with enough credibility and recommendation from others.

And if you want a more reliable and flexible option at higher costs, a web design agency can help you achieve bigger and more long-term results.

Just keep in mind that not all agencies charge the same price.

Here at Marketing by Rob, for instance, we offer customized websites with unlimited revisions starting at only $99/month. Yes, you read it right — only $99.

If you need a FREE quote for your small business, just send an email to rob@marketingbyrob.com.

Whatever option you choose, treat your website as an investment to help your small business attract more customers, gain more profits, and consistently grow.

If you’re a small business owner with an existing website, what solution works well for you? What are your experiences with either an in-house developer, a website builder, agency or freelancer? Share it below.

Rob

Rob

We understand how it feels to be frustrated and spend too much time with geeky website codes and multiple social media platforms

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