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The democratisation of the Internet – do you need a web designer?

These days, anyone can create a website. You have access to page builders, such as Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, and many more. This allows businesses to put up anything from landing pages to full-blown websites without the help of a professional. We call it the democratisation of the Internet – and it’s a great thing. But as always, there are caveats.

Definition

What is the “democratisation of the Internet”

An introduction of free and easily accessible tools that allow anyone to create a website. Often, the tools allow people to publish designs of a quality that was previously thought to require expert knowledge.

Benefits of website builders

Businesses are asking more and more of their marketing teams. The pace is constantly increasing, and marketers need tools that can get the job done quickly. This is where page builders are irreplaceable. They eliminate the communication and delivery time sink of working with agencies. In the end, even the most agile web agency would need a couple of days to build a high-performing landing page.

For SMEs, there’s the added benefit of low cost. In some cases, you can even put up a PPC landing page for free. But if you have some budget, then you can afford pretty much any tool that will do the job.

Website builders and their disadvantages

It all looks promising so far, so what are the tradeoffs? There are a few, but they don’t disqualify page builders by any means. Usually, there are options to reduce their negative impact – or even discard the disadvantages entirely.

Sacrificing on the quality

The pages will convert at a lower rate than a professional landing page. This will heavily depend on your knowledge of the page builder, and any additional skills your team has. If you know the basics of web development, you can customise most website builders. Similarly, any web design skills will help you avoid the common mistakes of building landing page layouts.

The end result will depend on many variables, but there’s also a redeeming factor – it doesn’t mean your ROI will be worse. Considering the speed at which you can create a landing page for a short campaign, and the low cost, you might be fine with a lower conversion rate. Just weigh your options carefully.

Diluting your brand image

Website builders are for everyone. It’s a blessing in disguise. It means that without some knowledge of web development to customise them, you are likely to be “just another page builder company”. First impressions are crucial, and while unified web design makes people’s lives a little easier at times, it also makes your brand lost in the crowd.
If you’ve ever encountered dropshipping e-commerce websites, you will know what it means. You know right away what they are. You know the pros, and cons. If your landing page looks similar, even by chance, people could automatically assign undesirable qualities to your company.

You’re not in control

It might sound vague and counterintuitive at first, but here’s why you’re not in control. You’ve opted for a one-size-fits-all solution. This means that you will have a big choice of features, but this comes with two issues:

  1. You won’t need all of the elements available to you
  2. You might not find an element that you actually need

Most website builders evolved to a point where the first one is a non-issue from a technical standpoint. However, it might be a little overwhelming. As for the second aspect, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Page builders are great, and they offer a lot of value for the money – but they’re not built specifically for you.

Additionally, you will quickly find that most times you don’t actually own your page. It can be taken down at any time, and you may not have any rights to it. Once it’s gone, you can’t recover it, and many builders make it hard to migrate their pages to a custom website. After all, that’s not what makes them money.

So do I need a web designer?

The answer is: it depends. Some of the factors to consider are:

  • Your budget
  • The ROI target
  • The timeline
  • The technical requirements

Whether you work with an agency or have an in-house development team, sometimes the project will not be a good fit for them. As a small company or a small team in an enterprise, it might be better to use no-code solutions for some of your projects. But the key here is to recognise when it’s the right option.

But in the grand scheme of things, you will need to work with web agencies at some point. Web designers do much more than just convert a wireframe or a prototype into a graphic. They dictate features, which often influence the technologies needed to use.

Professional web designers build design systems – you may not be aware of that, but a proper design system can be effectively reused in many other applications, not just on the website. You can even take advantage of it in your offline marketing efforts.

In short…

Where to build your website

Choose a web agency for a website build and activities critical for your company. Otherwise, use website builders for most microsites and smaller projects, i.e. landing pages.

Learn more about web design

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