Why it’s essential for start-ups to invest in a website designer from the start

As a self-funded entrepreneur, each of my financial decisions is carefully weighed. And with good reason. Only two-thirds of all small businesses survive beyond the second year.

According to the Wells Fargo Small Business Index, self-funded entrepreneurs will spend up to $10,000 in start-up capital.

After leaving a guaranteed paycheck and entering into the unknown, we simply can’t afford to make huge gambles with little return on investment. Every dollar matters and proper investment is essential.

Of those investments, one of the most important (and easily expensive) is our choice of website services and providers.

According to Forbes, “Without a website, people may question your legitimacy as a business. Having a website is an opportunity to make a great first impression and give people comfort that you’re a real business. Showcasing your brand to your prospective customers is one of the most important things that you can do.”

You Can Figure It Out

Should you hire a designer when you can probably figure it out yourself?

Sites like Wix and Squarespace promise that ANYONE can create their own websites. It’s as easy as just a few clicks! You won’t need to hire a designer… 

Working with either of these platforms can provide to be more work than they’re worth—

  • You’ll spend hours trying to figure out how to make a decent website.
  • Estimated time spent trying to learn the program: 10-20 hours. 
  • Months later you realize you only designed for desktop and your mobile site looks sloppy. Tack on a few hours to familiarize yourself again and now learn mobile design.
  • Estimated time to DIY: 5 hours.
  • You hear about something called metadata and are now trying to figure out what SEO is.
  • After all that time and effort, the site still looks homemade. Admittedly, you’re a financial whiz, not a visual guy…
  • Visuals aside, you haven’t even touched optimization and your site speeds are slow.

While your prospective clients want to support small, local businesses over large banks or investment firms, they ultimately don’t feel confident handing their money to a business with a site that looks broken and run cheaply.

Black Oak Title website mockup - desktop, tablet, phone

The initial DIY design for the Black Oak Title website was revamped by Harford Designs.

Your clients want legitimacy, to know you are an expert in your field, to think you are in this for the long run and that you’ll survive that 2-year benchmark. They actually want to establish a long standing relationship and build loyalty to you!

If that’s not convincing, here are three reasons you need to hire a professional website designer.

Your competition uses professional designers.

You can steal ideas from your competition all you want, but it’s essential to develop and implement your own unique brand and marketing strategy.

A website is far more successful and generates leads when it’s built around a strategy and utilizes online best-practices.

Design aside, you’ll also need your site integrated properly with Google, Microsoft, or any of your custom, industry specific software. Your developer can navigate all these steps properly without YouTube how-to videos.

A design agency will ensure everything is connected and your site is being indexed properly on search engines. Don’t forget about all their specialty subscriptions to daily/weekly/monthly website backups, site security, and optimization as well.

Like the dreaded Vistaprint business cards, sites like Wix and Squarespace offer templates that consumers have already seen numerous times on the web. Unless you are willing to dedicate countless hours carefully crafting a template that will need lots of manipulation to look unique and match your business brand (and you absolutely need a brand), you may be wasting a lot of valuable time playing around with tasks such as spacing and colors instead of chasing leads.

You (and your more-computer literate friends) can’t match the professional quality of a web designer.

Don’t try to cut corners with hiring acquaintances either. Your college roommate may have taken a computer programming class over a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean they should build your site either. The same idea applies to family members and teenage children.

Here’s an example I always use. Like most towns, Bel Air has multiple pizza shops, and these shops have their regulars. One day an out-of-town friend came over and we decided to order pizza. I told her which pizza joint I always preferred (based on taste), but since she was the one placing the order, she browsed through the 10 or so pizza websites and chose a pizza parlor based on its website presentation!

Designers have the expensive tools and know-how.

You have a photograph on your phone that you’d love to upload and incorporate on your site. Fantastic! Did you format it properly?

Designers have all the necessary tools such as Photoshop or Lightroom to make sure your picture looks high-end and is sized properly as to not slow down your website load speeds. For every extra second your website takes to load, another potential customer clicks away.

They also have specialized tools, plugins, and often expensive subscriptions that you wouldn’t necessarily have access to or know how to use without some sort of training.

Again, it leads to more long, tedious hours learning about websites instead of building your business.

Plugins like Wordfence security, WP-Optimize, and YOAST SEO are some of our essentials when creating a website.


There are too many reasons not to take the plunge and make this crucial step toward launching a successful business. Can you afford to send your viable leads to the competition?

Picking the correct designer is essential. Look for professionals who cater to your industry specific needs. They will be able to work within your price point and incorporate all the necessary content so it both inspires and informs. And they’ll know how to make your site competitive.

You may not be able to afford the bells and whistles (yet!) but you can afford to make a good first impression. As entrepreneurs, impression, and reputation are vital to our businesses surviving.

And—like so many other things—you get what you pay for in terms of design.

Once users find you online and become interested in your service and inspired by your design, they’ll contact a you and become a paying client!

Even though websites have a cost, when used correctly, they have a positive ROI! Don’t miss any opportunity to convert casual clicks to clients!

When your organization is ready to commit to a total redesign, don’t go it alone. Call in the experts!

Get in touch with us today to get started. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about the process.

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Jessica Valis, CEO & Owner
Jessica Valis, CEO, Fractional CMO