I decided to write about this after speaking with a potential client about costs... their reply  was 'look I can do this myself for free, nada, zero - It's just that I don't have the time...' As a professional website designer, when I see these TV ads to build your own 'free' website, I often mumble 'what an absolute con', let the rant begin... 

As far as I’m aware, no computer program can design a stunning, custom website that's built to serve your specific needs, automatically. That ’small detail’ is all with you, and of course, that's the hard part, the really hard part.

To illustrate let us take 3 design disciplines - image, typography, and color;

Image - Do you have photos? A professional photographer can charge $1000's per day. But if you have images, these will need to be cropped, optimized for speed, and stylized to fit the new website design (on all devices). Familiar with or own PhotoShop? Stock photography may be the answer but these too are not free.

Typography - How many of us understand line heights, x-heights, ascenders, descenders, orphans, and widows? What's the ideal width for a column of copy? What header typeface works best with a paragraph typeface? Machine fonts, Google fonts or Typekit? Typography is a beautiful and elegant art, there's a lot to learn not only from choosing the right combinations but also in the application, working with typography needs technical knowledge and artistic skill.

Color - What colors work best together? What tone should we set? Should we go with a sharp complementary palette or go for something much more organic? What does hex #333333 look like on a Windows PC? Looks horrid on my iOS Tablet. Web safe only colors? RGB, Hex? The psychology of color?

I've used 3 examples to quickly get my point over, a ‘free’ online website builder can 'build' a website, it enables us to easily create a web page; with a navigation at the top, add an image area below and so on. Sure. But that's where it ends. It can not ‘design’ the website for you.

Wait there's more! Other important considerations include:

Browser testing - Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera for Mac computers, PC computers, iPhones, Android phones, iPads, and tablets, that's a lot of testing. Do you have these devices on hand to test on? There's always a Best Buy nearby, right?  

Responsive design - What happens when the site is viewed on a mobile phone - know your media queries and break points? Hide certain elements for tablets - yet show on a desktop? The user experience and the user mentality change from device to device.

Branding, logo design, below the fold content, click or tap!, carousels, call to actions, SVG or PNG?

I think I get my point across.

To cut through the mediocre you need a professional online presence with a stunning, original design, that can solve problems and lead to real conversions - use a professional designer. As the saying goes - "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur". Still, need persuading? Then read this How much does a website cost? (go on, you won't regret it!). 

Of course, ignoring all the above perhaps you can get an ‘okay’ website up for free. The photos... stock images, worked really hard on getting the copy just right, perhaps you're using a pre-built template, BUT when you ‘Google’ your new services and website - you don't see it anywhere? Now what? Well, that's a whole other story (which you can read here).

Okay rant over. 

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