180 - Choosing Professional Website Design Compared to Freelance Web Design for Your Project 600x900

How to Determine Who Should Design Your Website

In this episode of Local SEO Tactics, we cover the important topic of how to choose between a professional website designer and a freelance web designer for your project. Deciding who will design your website is an important decision that can have a significant impact on the success of your business. Jesse and Sue explore the different types of web design solutions and tips on how to choose the right designer for your business.

What You'll Learn

  • Why choosing a website designer is one of the most important decisions for your business
  • When to hire a professional website designer vs a freelancer
  • How to select the right website designer for your project

Tune into the Local SEO Tactics Podcast to learn more about web design and SEO! Questions? Ask us at localseotactics.com/questions for a chance to have it answered on the show!

Don’t miss an episode – listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, and more!

Jesse Dolan: There's certain things where you just seek out the lowest bid because there's not a big difference in what can be provided. But then there's other areas where you know, like chocolates is a good example, right? Or whatever, coffee. I like whiskey, bourbon, right? There's cheap stuff and there's expensive stuff. And it doesn't mean just off price that you're going a good direction, whether you're up or down. But the point is in some of these areas, there's a lot of spectrum in your choices in the level of services and then that equates to price as well. Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan, joined by Sue Ginsburg here today. How's it going, Sue?

Sue Ginsburg: Really good. Couldn't be better.

Jesse Dolan: Couldn't be better? Not at all? Nowhere?

Sue Ginsburg: All right, maybe it could be a little better.

Jesse Dolan: I always love picking up on those Midwestern things that we always say, right? I think I've said it before. My favorites is, nothing to complain about, or I forget the phrase that we'll reply all the time, right? "How're you doing?" "Not too bad or nothing to complain about." It's like-

Sue Ginsburg: Nothing to complain about.

Jesse Dolan: ... it's the opposite of what you just said,

Sue Ginsburg: Right.

Jesse Dolan: Very Midwestern. Anyways, thanks for coming on. What should we talk about today in the realm of SEO?

Sue Ginsburg: Okay, today's question is what is the difference between a professionally designed and built website, and one that your neighbor's daughter's friend can build for you for half the price or less? I actually was asked this question not too long ago by a business owner who we were talking to about a website design build. And I know that she isn't the only one that is finding this or thinking this or whatever, with all the people out there that are... Or as it gets easier to build a website, not necessarily a good website but as it gets easier to build a website. So I thought it'd be a great, great, great question to discuss and to hear your expert insight on for all of our listeners as well. So, quoted the day to go along with this. "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." And that's a Chinese proverb that I think we've all experienced and I thought it would be appropriate for our question today.

So the way this came about, last month a client of ours referred a business owner to us who was looking for a new website for her high end designer, chocolatier business, a boutique chocolate of truffles and all those other good things that we love to eat. Her website was old, outdated, didn't reflect her business anymore or her brand, and she knew that it was time to update her website. Right? So after several conversations with her, a nice bright lady, we created and sent a proposal to her for a new WordPress website. Our standard pricing, which I'm very proud to say is still under market pricing and I believe over delivers for what we could be doing. Delivers an attractive website, an engaging website, user-friendly and set up for SEO because that's what we do. The proposal was short and sweet, straightforward, easy to understand, and laid out the process. And as always, I was proud of it and I knew that we could build her a really good website that would exceed her expectations. Her response surprised me.

She shared that she had gotten other website build estimates that were less than ours and well, was going with the one that was significantly less. And probing a little further, sure enough, it turns out that it's some version of my neighbor's daughter's friend who took a class in Home Ec and this is what they were teaching that day and that's who she was choosing to build her a website. As a smart business owner, I was surprised that this is how she was making her decision on something that is basically the reflection of her and her brand to the world. So I knew that we... I mean, you don't have a good shot at convincing somebody otherwise when that's how they're choosing really on the basis of cost because that's not how we operate. And my response to her and my explanation was that, like her designer chocolate business, there's a lot of competition for chocolate out there but she was in a different category because of the premium value that she provides. And I think that that's the same as we are.

And in terms of analogies that were close to her business, there are chocolates out there that you have more reason to charge more for than the three Musketeer bar. Not all websites are the same, right? And I believe that our pricing strongly reflects the expertise of our team, the client service that we provide, the knowledge we bring to it that makes the final product better for the business owner and for the business in general and the process smoother. And I strongly believe that. Got me thinking though, how easy it is these days to get to find somebody who can build you a website, how hard it is to compare apples to apples when you're looking at website estimates and website bids that you're considering, and how hard it is to convey that all web signs are not created equal. Now, contrast that too. Another situation that happened last month, we're just talking about this business owner, Jesse. Where a business owner who we've done business with on another one of his businesses, called and asked for a website design bill proposal. Which we gave him same service fee as this high-end chocolatier.

This business owner called me and asked what the difference was between a website build estimate that from us and others that he had gotten. One of which was his neighbors' kids friends, whatever, whatever. We had a really good conversation. I shared some of the differences that true professionals building, designing and building a website who do this every day of every week versus someone's kid who learned it in the class in school last week. And he decided he wanted us to build his new website, too similar but very different scenarios. Got me thinking about all the differences that are behind the scenes that are not easy to see. And not what a business owner may consider when they're looking at different website design build estimates. And I thought it'd be a great question to discuss with you, get your expert insight. You've been doing this for a long, long, long time and help our audience understand this is not apples to apples and not all websites are designed and built equally.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I don't think that this is a great topic, Sue. I don't think that a lot of the business owners, managers decision, makers out there know the spectrum of what can be done. So I think there's a place for cheap, light, small websites for a business. I'll dive into that here in a second but I think overarching something worth mentioning, and we use different versions and metaphors and analogies of the sue all the time is, if we're going to go employ some professional service from somebody, maybe a dentist. I've got an eye appointment to get some new contacts next week, right? So an optometrist or whatever, a roofer. If we're going to pay good money for something, there's certain things where you just seek out the lowest bid because there's not a big difference in what can be provided. But then there's other areas where you know, like your chocolate is a good example or whatever.

Coffee, I like whiskey bourbon, right? There's cheap stuff and there's expensive stuff. And it doesn't mean just off price that you're going a good direction whether you go up or down. But the point is, in some of these areas there's a lot of spectrum in your choices in the level of services and then that equates to price as well. The $500 website let's just say, which would be something I would expect your neighbors daughter's cousin to build for you. Cheap, sub a thousand dollars, $500 range type deal is kind of where we usually find these things landing. And that's because somebody just knows how to do it. And most anybody who's doing this type of work, let's just say it's freelance work. I mean, here we are 2023, what does somebody need to make? You're not going to be doing that for 10 bucks an hour or even 15 or 20 bucks an hour probably. I mean freelance, you're probably getting into the 20, 30, 40 bucks an hour. If it's a professional agency, you're going north of that, maybe double or triple that even.

And so if you just think about that, do the math, pick your level of service provider and just divide that by $500. If it's 50 bucks, that's 10 hours of labor. If it's 25 bucks, it's 20 hours of labor. How much time is involved to sit down and craft and produce, meet with you the client? Maybe you're meeting for an hour on the front side, an hour in the middle, hour at the end. If you had 10 hours at 50 bucks or if you had 20 hours at 25 bucks, three hours of meeting, right? That digs into it quite a bit. So just playing through some of those scenarios from just the amount of straight up labor, not to mention the quality or the experience of that labor is a major factor that I always want to point out to people. Just economically, how can this thing be produced at a cheap rate? What's being sacrificed? Now if you just need a one-page website for maybe some campaign you're running or a brand you're trying to test or some kind of pop-up deal, who knows? Sure, do that. Cheap out on it.

It doesn't matter it the website is only there to maybe act as a brochure that you're going to point people to. But if you start talking about the website needing to be a part of your business, you frame up often, Sue that your website can be a salesperson and perform in that level. You don't have to invest the same amount of money as you would a salesperson, but you're way closer to that than you are at $500. Maybe not way closer that's very general. But that level of output isn't going to come with a crazy minimal investment otherwise everybody would be just doing this left, and it'd be more common knowledge. So that's something to really look at. A couple other areas here. And I don't think any of these... Overall, I guess I'm making an argument for businesses to invest more into their websites. But I think as I go through some of these, Sue, it's also maybe we're painting a scenario where you should use your neighbor's daughter's whatever to build the site. Right? So yeah, budget is a huge concern or just kind of a little one-off deal.

But something to consider is the ongoing support. Oftentimes, if you can wrangle somebody in to make a cheap website for your, lack of a better way of saying it you're taking advantage of their situation to provide you that cheap website. Maybe they just got out of school, maybe they're moonlighting and maybe they're an IT person and they just know web coding so they can do it for you, so they do do it. But usually you're not going to get that same person to maybe revamp, update, maintain, fix, whatever your website a year or two from now because they're either no longer moonlighting, because they got too busy, change careers. They're no longer just out of school, now they're fully employed doing this thing as a career and they know they're not making 20 bucks an hour, now they're going to charge you 50, right? Just, if you're going to get a cheap website done kind of default in the mindset of this was a one-off deal, right? And it's not going to be this cheap later or maybe I can't even track this person down later.

There's a lot of nuance there, I think that's people get attracted to that cheap price and then you end up paying more later. Right? Or, there's pain or labor or other stressors, outside of money that come into play later too. So that ongoing support, either that the cost will increase later through the same person? Logistically, are they even available or around anymore? Do they even care to be in this industry anymore. If you're paying cheaper rates, it's very temporary in nature for that career and that person versus an agency. Let's just take us, of course, for example. We're not going anywhere. We're more expensive, but we're here. Right? And you can count on us and we're established and there's something there for those two prices. So shifting gears to another topic. We're an SEO firm, right at Local SEO Tactics. Anybody listening to the words we're saying right now is here because of SEO. And so when you talk about us doing websites at Intrycks, Sue, we do them through the lens and for the purpose of SEO, right? We don't just design websites to be cool looking websites. We design them to be found online.

Talking about labor and energy and time. Right there, there's hours of, if you're talking about SEO. Keyword research with on the front end, discussions with the client on the front end about the keywords and things like that. Right? Now, we're not just talking about colors and pictures and layouts and functions, words, intent. What are we trying to promote? Adding the layer of SEO is not typical for a web designer. And if you are hoping your new website is going to be found online, SEO needs to be a part of it. And right there, that's probably going to disqualify a lot of these cheap web designers for anybody. Because you can't go through and produce a new website that's just kind of ready to go with SEO out the box for super cheap. You can put a website out there that has some of the block and tackle taken care of, but to really get granular and have some high hopes for it, that's not going to happen for a super cheap website.

The other area that is easy to save a lot of cost on is the photos in the multimedia, in the videos and that kind of stuff that's on a website. If you're dealing with somebody that's cheap and low end, the odds of them repurposing stock photography, having lower quality photography or maybe even stuff that's copyright violations, right? If they just do a Google search for a certain thing and just copy that image, you can get in trouble for copyright on that too. So, the creative aspects from the visual standpoint is something that we see compromised if it's a cheaper website too. Again, these things take longer time. Right? Not only are you designing a website if you have to design this image, this graphic, this infographic, or maybe go take some photos of the business or produce a video. That's time and complexity and the cheaper you're paying overall for your web design, the less you're going to get in those areas, which can become very important not just for SEO.

We've talked in other episodes about Google understanding what is a stock photo versus a unique image, and how that can differentiate you by using unique images for SEO. But then also from a conversion standpoint and connecting to your business. If I have a photo on my website of some generic receptionist on the phone. And if Sue, if you visit my website and if you've seen that same stock photo on six different websites you know immediately that I'm not a super professional business, right? Or just that connotation comes through. And that's more user experience and design than it is SEO. That's another area that's going to be on the cutting room floor when it comes to your lower end budget. You're not going to get the uniqueness and the high impact storytelling through the visual parts of your website, odds are. And then the last but not least here is the kind of the UX and how the website fits with your business processes.

Is there some kind of integration, like if people are looking to make bookings or appointments or find more information, is there a knowledge base? Is there some kind of chat tool? Whatever it is you want your website to do for your business processes, your website should be attracting business, making engagement easier. There's a lot of things it does. Again, your example of making it be a salesperson. What all does it need to do? What are the utilities, what are the integrations, the functionalities of it? Those are more advanced features and more advanced things that take longer amount of time to discuss, to implement, to test and to vet out. And I think if you're operating in the cheap, you're going to be lacking in those areas. And if you're dealing on more of a higher budget, there's going to be more on our end, Sue, we call them like the discovery call. Going through questions, challenging a client.

And hopefully this is true of any higher end or legitimate professional agency that you're working on a website with is, there's a lot of energy and time in the upfront discussions, the research, the investigation, the discovery, making sure you and the client are on the same page. Because if you don't, ultimately what happens is you put a website together, you fire it off to the client and they have a bunch of revisions. And you're going back and forth over and over again about the changes you want to make, didn't get it right the first time. And if you're working with a cheap freelancer, guess what? They are going to run real short on patients if that happens over and over again because they already weren't making a lot of money. Right? And so if you go through three, four rounds or revisions with them, you're going to find yourself in a different tone of conversation. Now, if you're experienced and if you've built a lot of websites, interface with a lot of clients, what is the insurance company? Is it State Farm? We've seen it all. We know how to quote it all or whatever.

There's something to be said with that experience and working with a lot of different businesses. You know what questions to ask on the front side, you know what kind of functions and features people are looking for? Analogy, kitchen remodel, a bedroom remodel, like home remodel, whatever it is, if you're working with an experienced contractor, they're going to know the questions to ask, they're going to know the scenarios to put at you. You've had these conversations before. And they're not just taking the thing out of your brain and making it into a website. They're taking your idea, they're asking you a bunch of different questions, they're doing a lot of research to make sure that they can give you something beyond what was just in your mind. They want it to be everything you wanted, but more because you weren't aware of these things you could do, right? You're not a web designer, you're the business owner.

So that UX, the client functions, the integrations, how does that actually work for your business? There's a big layer there of time, energy, and development. And I'm not talking thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in that space, but just you start to add these up. If you get a cheap website, is that person there in the future for updates and support? Are they going to go through revisions? Are they going to get it right the first time? Are you having SEO built in? Are you having good images and storytelling? And we're not even getting into the creative writing, right? In the text or these other parts of the site that are important. I do know there's a good chunk of the industry, which I'm not disagreeing with, that wants to make this more affordable. And so you're going to see out there plenty of arguments or information about making this stuff more affordable, making it cheaper, and that's good. Because it should be accessible, but it's not a race to the bottom.

Investing into your website is not an area that you should just get the cheapest bid because it was the cheapest, because that's very superficial. This is definitely one of those areas where there's the upfront initial investment for it, but then there is again, what's the end result? Is it what I wanted? Is there ongoing support? There's much more after the fact unless you are using it, like I said on the front side. If it's just a one-time event, right? And it's just, I need this website for 30 days and then I can careless what happens to it. You're in a different box compared to just a business, which is kind of where I'm framing this up, Sue, right? So, I'd say those are some of the main areas. And at the end of the day, we're not getting into some of the nuance of like, if you're using Wick versus WordPress or the type of thing you're building it on, which is a whole nother of the discussion.

But what we hope in working with clients at the end of the day is that we've empowered them to own this website, right? They have all the logins, they own it, they know where the hosting is, everything else. What we're trying to do is have the website be a good representation of their business online, have their website be the endpoint for all their other digital marketing, right? Whether it be social media, YouTube, whatever. Everything links back to the website. That's where more information can always be found. And then that performs like you said, like a salesperson. It converts, it does its job, not something people read. It gives them the information they need, portrays your company, has your brand, your style, your voice coming through and then gives them a medium to call you, contact you, engage with you, whatever it is, take the next step to doing business with you.

It's a lot of thought and energy that goes into producing that. And long story short, I don't think that can be done cheaply. Even if you go overseas, Philippines, Thailand. I mean, again, just do math. Over there you can get maybe 5, 6, 7, 10 bucks an hour type of labor. Just start plotting that out against how many hours it might take to do something. Even if you get really cheap labor, you're still pretty thin if you're racing to the bottom on pricing. So I don't know, hopefully that helps. We are predisposed in all of this. Like I said on the front side, Sue, to take SEO into account in these opinions here in what we're talking. Because for us, a website is to be found and then to sell your company. So, take all this with a grain of salt in that regard. But yeah, hopefully that helps everybody, if you're analyzing.

I think everybody that's in the space of getting a website made or redone should be looking at multiple quotes. And hopefully there's a little bit of knowledge here and there that maybe makes you look through that quote a little harder. Maybe get a second quote if you only got one to compare and contrast. And of course, Sue, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell everybody. Check us out, this is what we do too all day long. And if you want a second opinion or even a first opinion, reach out to us at Intrycks or through Local SEO Tactics and we are happy to look at any website project.

Sue Ginsburg: Well, Jesse, just to underscore, I guess some of the things that you said. There's some platforms that make it very easy to build a website, but then once you have that website and the website builder is long gone, it does not make it easy to do things that will help you get found online. And where are you then? And I think another thing too is, how many times are we dealing with a business owner and saying, "Okay, we need the login credentials so we can get behind the curtain, whatever, whatever?" And they're like, "Some guy built it three years ago and I don't know where he is and he had the login credentials and I can't find him, and can we just start from scratch?" Another scenario, just like every other industry, they're good and bad players in it. Were recently dealing with a new client when he went to tell his previous SEO firm that he was switching firms he was working with, they took his website down.

And so it's like how unprofessional and unethical is that, and who knows what it costs when he built it. But you don't want to be dealing with anybody who's going to be pulling those shenanigans as well. And unfortunately in business, some people do. Some people do.

Jesse Dolan: True. We hear all those kinds of stories.

Sue Ginsburg: Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: And I think-

Sue Ginsburg: It's cray.

Jesse Dolan: Well, it makes me think of, there's actually, there's the other end of the scale too which we didn't really mention, Sue. So in our scenario, we're not the cheapest, we're also not the most expensive, right? You said we're very competitively priced on just a whatever, a regular old website. If we're talking 10,000 pages, it might be different. But we recently won a client for a new website project and the other bid they were looking at was literally three times the cost of ours.

Sue Ginsburg: Whoa.

Jesse Dolan: And we were not cheap. We were just below five figures, high four figures, low five figure type pricing of here. And the competitive bid was three times our price. And we got a call from that client, kind of the inverse of what you said about what's the difference between these here, but it was more of, "Hey, did you miss something in your proposal because you're so cheap, compared to what we have over here?" And looking through it... My point on this underscoring is, I was saying don't pick the lowest price one just because it's lowest price. Also, don't assume because something was expensive that it's amazing. Because we poured over our proposal versus the competitive proposal. And there isn't any difference other than the price and how it was presented. I would love to charge the prices that are triple ours, but at the end of the day we just can't. It's-

Sue Ginsburg: Not the way we operate.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. We want our clients to be successful. We're not just trying to get, in this case like a web design project out of it, right? We would love to work with you for SEO. We want to have great conversations. We recorded a session with John from Giant Enterprises that I'll be releasing here. And he just loves everything that's happened. And we did multiple things for him, a website design was one of them. If we wouldn't have had a good result, or maybe if we would've spent his entire budget on that web design, we wouldn't have the other products and services and he wouldn't be a client for years, and we wouldn't have transformed his business. All we would've had is a profitable web design project that was a one-off. And from the agency side, there's a better model in our opinion, which is how we do it. So you don't want to get the cheapest site. You also don't have to race for the most expensive site.

Get multiple bids, compare them and make sure you're diving deep into why one's more expensive, why one's cheaper. Have conversations with these people that you're evaluating. They should be more than willing to walk through these things in the nuances. So yeah, sorry to clump on there at the end but that just made me think of that other end of the spectrum, right? Where sometimes you can be cheaper even if you're an amazing professional website, you can be cheaper than something that was inflated.

Sue Ginsburg: That's true.

Jesse Dolan: Wild, wild west out there, that's for sure.

Sue Ginsburg: Yeah, and I think you make a very good point about, don't just look at this as a short term thing. You're not trying to get the most for your money in the website build. Your website is the face of your business. It can be your best salesperson and you want to be able to work with that and have it work for you for more than just a month or two.

Jesse Dolan: A hundred percent.

Sue Ginsburg: So it's worth an investment in what will be a long-term asset of your business.

Jesse Dolan: Yep. So that's all I got to say. Was that good or did you want me to expand on anything, Sue, or any follow up questions?

Sue Ginsburg: I think that's great.

Jesse Dolan: Awesome.

Sue Ginsburg: You brought out some really good points and hopefully giving people who are thinking about updating their website or getting a new website, some very good food for thought. And hopefully they'll also consider us if they are looking at a new or redone website because we do a really good-

Jesse Dolan: And how serious we are talking about it too, even if you just want to bounce it off of us or get some advice, we're here. We're not going to jump on multiple Zoom calls for an hour at a time for free. We're running a business too. But if you listen to us, if you trust us, you want to reach out, even if you're not looking at us to do it, right? Just for an opinion or some guidance and to give a proposal. It's what we do all the time.

Sue Ginsburg: Jesse, I've heard you tell people when they're asking for your expert view that you don't think of what new website is necessary for these reasons. If they have other reasons because they hate their website because the colors of their, remind them of whatever. But people can count us-

Jesse Dolan: That's a great point.

Sue Ginsburg: ... to give them an honest opinion from our expertise.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. And that's skewed when we tell that to people. That's skewed because we're concerned about SEO, right?

Sue Ginsburg: Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: And sometimes we get business owners coming into us, "I need a new website." And really what they mean is, "I need to get found in Google. I need a new website. I need it to do something online." And that's just kind of how you latch onto it mentally, is I need to do a new website. And so in your instance, we say, "Wait, hold on." Yeah, we're not saying your website looks really, really good, but let's start with SEO. Let's improve some areas by the nature of going through your site for SEO, we're going to maybe tweak some images or do some other stuff that will give your site, maybe not a redesign, but a facelift or maybe some freshness. And yeah, there's some spectrum in there. And then if you still want an overhaul on your website, let's generate some money, right? Let's get some ROI going on, the SEO and create that budget for the website too, right? Or have it pay for itself, if you will. Not that you had to create it to afford it.

So yeah, I think that's a great point, Sue. So yeah. In this space, you don't even necessarily always need a new website, which can change your entire budget perspective so.


Sue Ginsburg: It’s true. And we will give them the truth, not the answer that is going to make us the most money. Because we are in it for the long haul.


Jesse Dolan: Yep. We wouldn’t put out almost 200 episodes of Local SEO Tactics for free and toil over this if we weren’t just trying to help people in general. Knowing that eventually right, karma will bring it back to us, and we’ll have a good business which we do. So yeah. We are here to help, not just though the show but if you want to reach out to us for advice, go to the website and contact us and uh, either sue or I will ninety nine percent of the time be the ones getting back to you. You’ll see.


Sue Ginsburg: That’s right. Its true, its all true.

Jesse Dolan: What else we got. Anything else to close it up?


Sue Ginsburg: Um I would say if you remember one thing and one thing only remember this, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And in the specific case of looking for new or updated website design build. Dive in and learn the differences the best you can. Why are these quotes different, what are they including, not including, what are you going to have to pay for later, what are you going to be able to do, not do. Realizing that there not all created equal. So that’s what I would say. So going back to the quote of the day if you pay peanuts you’ll get monkeys famous Chinese proverb. And hopefully everybody will have a better understanding what they are asking for when they are asking for a website design build or redo from more than one resource


Jesse Dolan: And If you not looking for your company if this triggers you to think about it to, always a good exercise if its been awhile maybe you do need a little facelift or some energy there. Good topic sue love the quote of the day too nice short simple sweet I feel like there is some way I can use this on my kids too I don’t know its going to come up somewhere I’ll let you know how it does. Apricate  the input, as well.


Sue Ginsburg: I think you want to  pay your kids peanuts to do the jobs you that you are asking them to do, so. You may have to turn those words around.


Jesse Dolan: They are already acting like monkeys half the time anyways, might as well throw peanuts at them/ But no thanks for jumping on hanging out good episode I think everyone listening hopefully we dropped some information that helps them or they’ll revisit it once they’re in that spot. As always good stuff. Thanks for jumping on everybody listening hope you enjoyed the episode and got something out of it and we’ll catch you on the next one. Take care.


To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one.



Listen to the episode however you like with the audio file.