Do You Need a Web Designer to Build Your Squarespace Website?
Website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Shopify and Go Daddy’s website builder have revolutionized and reduced the cost of setting up a website for the small business, charity or sole trader. So why do people like me offer to build websites on these platforms on your behalf? Aren’t these tools meant to be DIY?
Why do you need a web designer if you don’t need code? (clue: you probably do need code, even with a website builder).
It comes down to everything else a web designer can offer; detailed knowledge of the platform (which means speed), time to dedicate to the project, knowledge of usability and website navigation, SEO skills, technical and coding skills, and more. Read on to find out why doing it yourself isn’t always the money-saving modus operandi you might think it is.
Web builder software has a learning curve
Just like Microsoft Word and Excel, Adobe Photoshop and any other software you’ve ever used (with the possible exception of MS Paint) Squarespace, Wix and Shopify have hundreds of options and bucketloads of potential that stays firmly untapped until you know what the software can do and how to make it do it.
After using Squarespace for years I know it inside out. But it took months of building websites on different templates repeatedly — day in, day out — to get the hang of what is offered by each template and to work out how best to tweak each one to fit a business. It’s not difficult, but it does take time.
If you don’t want to spend hours banging your head against a screen as you try to set up a whizzy new feature the help pages told you would be EASY, call a web designer.
Web design is a science
Every aspect of designing and building a website is better done by a web designer — no matter whether it’s built on Squarespace, Wordpress or just bare code.
As a business owner you know your brand and your audience and you know what you want your website to achieve, but the real science of web design is marrying the audience to the product you offer and communicating in pictures, in words — and even in the experience of using the website — why the product meets their needs. It’s your chance to look like what you say you are and also help people do business with you in an efficient and enjoyable way.
Do you know how to choose a font that represents you, your customers and your product? Do you know ‘call to action’ best practices? Can you design a page around the way the eye tracks across a screen and presents the button you want that person to click in exactly the right place?
No? And why should you? I can’t do what you are best at either.
The quality of your website equals the quality of your business
If your images are low quality, there are broken links or typos, or if it’s difficult to do the things people come to your website to do, it will all reflect badly on your business.
People expect your site to work as well as your business does. Slow loading means slow responses to emails and not turning up on time. Typos represent shoddy workmanship. Difficult navigation is a clear sign you’re not that interested in doing business after all.
I can’t emphasise enough the importance of having a professional, high quality website that serves its purpose effectively. It’s the gateway to your business. If people can’t use it or don’t like it, they won’t choose you, no matter how well you manage the rest of your business.
You can write, but can you copy write?
You are of course an intelligent person with bags of qualifications under your belt. You can totally write.
But do you know how to research an audience so thoroughly that you can predict every one of their pain points? Do you know how to write in a way that prompts the reader to feel those pains and feel genuine relief when you explain how your product provides the solution? Can you write a snappy slogan that says it all? Can you come up with this sort of thing?
Like web design, copywriting is also a science, and something that’s best left to the experts, particularly if you take the role of your website in your company’s success seriously.
And don’t even get me started on SEO…
It’s not just about how people feel when they interact with your website. The way you construct your site has a huge effect on how the Google algorithm interprets who you are and what you do.
Describing what your website is for, what you do and where in the world you operate is yet another science in itself which, if done wrong, can make or break your website’s success in search results.
DNS is a complicated business
If you have in-depth knowledge and experience of setting up email addresses, registering domains and pointing domains at websites, congratulations. You’ll make a really good web designer.
If you don’t know a whole bunch, prepare for a fair bit of head banging.
Time is money
As a small business owner, I love to sit with a cup of tea staring wistfully into the middle distance, contemplating the hours, days and weeks of empty time spreading out in front of me, ready to be filled with digital marketing activities…
…said no small business owner ever.
In fact, the number 1 gripe of small owner-operated businesses and charities is there is NO TIME for marketing. You have already discovered that running a business involves FAR MORE than just doing the thing you are really good at. It also involves cleaning the toilets, submitting accounts, organising flights, networking, marketing, and managing the IT infrastructure.
Do yourself a favour and delegate everything you can so you can get back to doing what you do best. The costs are an investment in you and your business.
You will probably need code
I don’t think I’ve ever built a Squarespace site that didn’t need a few code tweaks. Whether it is fiddling with the spacing or adding a font that isn’t already available, something always comes up.
And if you really can’t afford it?
You may have no choice than to do it yourself, particularly if you are creating a site for a charity or community enterprise. Here are my top tips for doing it yourself on Squarespace:
Choose a template that looks most like your business or organization and has pages you can easily fill with information about what you do.
My post about what to put on your business website should inspire some ideas for content and help you work out what you need to say about your business.
If you need to change anything on the site and suspect you need code, Google your problem, adding “Squarespace” and the template name to your search string. For example “Change footer background colour in Squarespace Five”. You should be able to find code snippets fairly easily.
Follow the instructions in my post about SEO for Squarespace to set solid SEO foundations on your website.
A Squarespace website designer based in Oxford, UK, I'm on a mission to turn uninspiring, unloved websites into interesting, relevant experiences that show instantly what you offer and why people need you in their lives. More info.