When Does My Small Business Need to Hire a Website Designer?

Black woman with her hands up in a questioning look for DTK Studios When To Hire a Website Designer blog post

Running a business is hard.

Running a business is complex.

Being a business owner means carrying many different roles and titles. You’re the owner, developer, marketer, customer services rep, bookkeeper, service provider, quality assurance officer, etc.

The list goes on.

As a small business owner, it’s important to have a strong working knowledge of all areas of your business. Challenges arise when you try to be an expert in all areas of your small business. I’ve fallen into this trap and I know many other small and micro-businesses owners have as well. Our responsibilities, commitments, procedures, operations, and schedules (just to name a few) all need to run as effectively and efficiently as possible to provide our business the support it needs to succeed and also allow us to be more than just an overworked small business owner.

If you’re here reading this article, you may be asking when to hire a website designer for your small business because you want to find that balance and sweet spot to be able to facilitate growth and stability in your business and in your personal life.

This article looks at:

tl;dr

I should hire a website designer for my small business when:

  1. My business is in a place of financial stability and consistency and I am gearing up for growth
  2. My business is growing and my website doesn’t accurately reflect my business any longer and I don’t have time to update it
  3. I’m at a place in my business journey where I no longer want the responsibility of managing and upkeeping the business’ website.
  4. I’m starting a business and want to invest in professionals from the beginning instead of taking the DIY route.

Woman Business Owner Sitting on the floor of her restaurant looking worried
Is my business a “small business” or a “micro business?”

DTK Studios is focused on helping small businesses. Defining who that actually means is important. Through my research, I’ve realized I really help micro-businesses.

According to the SBA, a small business may have as many as 500 employees and, depending on the industry, make millions of dollars per year. For example, a business offering graphic design services is considered a small business if they make less than $8 million a year. The information I share in this article is not written for a business that has the structure to accommodate millions of dollars.

I am writing under the assumption that your goal is to run a successful business that supports your lifestyle needs and wants while also providing a meaningful service or product to your community of clients.

This information is geared towards what the SBA labels a “micro-business.” A micro business is defined as having no more than 10 employees. That being said, in order to reach my fellow micro businesses, I must play the SEO game and use the term that people search for. That means I’m using the term “small business” to hopefully catch your attention and provide some value!

hire website designer stress owner
When should I NOT hire a professional website designer?

Yes, DTK Studios is a website design agency.

Yes, DTK Studios is in the business of being a part of your team and sees great value in outsourcing website design.

However, above all, I understand the importance of sustainability and security.

Hiring a professional website designer requires investing both money and time upfront and potentially ongoing for regular support. I 100% believe hiring a website designer should be in your business plan somewhere. Using a website designer’s expertise to better position your website to serve your business is a valuable investment. However, in order to fully take advantage of their skills, you must have a few things in line before making the leap. You should NOT hire a professional website designer if:

You’re not able to invest a few thousand dollars into your small business.

(And potential monthly maintenance cost if you choose to keep the designer for maintenance)

Hiring a website designer is an investment

I believe in a sustainable growth model. By this I mean you should have the money upfront, or a steady and consistent income stream to pay off the investment in a reasonable amount of time so the interest doesn’t take away from the investment. I know the saying, “spend money to make money.” This can easily become a sinkhole of debt that can take years to dig out of to get to a profitable spot. Just like saving up to purchase a car, a mortgage, or an education, business investments must also be approached with the same mindset. (See #1 of When you Should Hire for more on this topic!) By hiring a website designer, you’re investing in their expertise in design knowledge, speaking effectively to your customers, and search engine optimization to name a few.

The cost of hiring someone to build your website varies greatly on what you specifically need. A website cost can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. A small or micro business that perhaps has one or two services, or less than 20 products to sell can reasonably budget around $5,000 for a high-quality and professional website designer.

DIY platforms are successful for a reason.

Platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify provide a cost-effective option for small business owners to set up their virtual marketing storefronts. For under $500, you can purchase a domain, subscription, and hosting for your website. The only other big investment is your time and energy to learn the platform and design your website. These platforms even help with that because of their many templates and customer support.

You Don’t Have Clarity on your Business Foundation

“Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start”

(DM me on IG if you know the movie I’m quoting from!)

Professional website designers’ purpose is to represent your business through text and visuals in a way that attracts your ideal client or customer. They work to be experts of design, conveying your message, and providing an attractive home for your business. Website designers are not business coaches. Your website designer has the skills and expertise pertaining to website design. Yes, they are a business owner so they also have business skills, but it’s not their business focus. It’s common for a designer to expect you as the business owner to already have the foundation of your business laid out. This includes:

  • Brand Name
  • Mission/Values
  • Ideal Client
  • Services/Products

If you need help with these business foundations, Wandering Aimfully has an amazing in-depth article all about it!

You Don’t Have Clarity on Your Brand Assets

(Unless your website agency has an option to help with Brand Development. Hint Hint, we can help!)

Your Brand Assets are an extension of your Business Foundation. It includes more of the visual components such as:

  • Brand Colors
  • Brand Logo
  • Brand Graphics

You may be thinking, wait, isn’t this within the scope of a website designer?! Well, it depends on the designer. Some designers focus on implementing strategy and marketing with their designs. They don’t want to help you develop your branding, they want to implement your visual branding. Other designers may offer an extra service that includes visual branding development in their package. Adding branding development does increase the cost. If you need clarity with your branding, you can take a self-paced course such as the Better Branding Course (not sponsored, it’s just a great course!), hire a designer (we love Blades Creative), or find free resources like this from Canva!

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When SHOULD you hire a professional website designer?

Choosing to hire a professional website designer comes with many wonderful benefits:

  1. Experience in designing the customer journey.
    • An excellent website designer does more than create a beautifully branded website. They understand the problem your business is solving and build a website that invokes trust and curiosity in your potential customers and shows your expertise. When researching a website designer for your business, make sure to look at their portfolio to see if their website showcases the client’s expertise.
  2. Compliancy (GDPR, ADA, Privacy Statement, Terms and Conditions)
    • The laws and regulations around accessibility and privacy provide a more equitable and safe online environment. Your website designer, at a bare minimum, should create a site that meets ADA requirements as well as follows privacy laws.
  3. Unique Design
    • No matter what platform your website is built on, there are beautiful premade themes even website designers can use effectively. What a professional website designer may do is use a theme or template as a starting point to then customize to meet your business needs. Your website should uniquely showcase your business and not look like any other business.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (Heading Hierarchy, Effective Keywords, Page Load Time, Image Optimization, Appealing Design)
    • Better known as SEO; search engine optimization is a crucial building block for any website design. Excellent website design builds on design foundations such as proper heading hierarchy, keyword choices, image optimization, responsive design, and page speed. These all play an important role in how well your website will rank in search engines over time.
  5. Responsive Design
    • All websites must function on any device size. A professional website designer creates pages that function well no matter how they are being viewed.
  6. Continued Support post-launch
    • Depending on your business needs, having a website designer available even after your website is live can be a useful asset to your business. Either as a monthly retainer or paid hourly as needed, their expertise can save you a lot of time and money trying to figure out someone on your own.

You SHOULD hire a professional website designer if:

Your business is in a place of financial stability and consistency

There isn’t a magical amount of money that will make your business “stable.” One lesson of the covid-19 pandemic is it’s a good idea to save a bit more than you think you may need. I believe in a sustainable growth model. Part of building a business is investing in tools, services, and education, in order for the business to grow. Your business should be able to absorb the cost of the investment without it having a long-term negative impact on the profit. According to Clever Girl Finances:

“It’s best to save at least 20% of your business income if possible. This ensures you are properly saving for emergencies, and other business needs.”

If you want to learn more about what consistent profit and savings are, here is an article talking about it!

Your business is growing and your website doesn’t accurately represent it any longer and you don’t have time to update it

First of all, congratulations on your business growth! This may be a bit overwhelming if you’ve been a one-person show and wearing all the hats of owner, web designer, accountant, customer service rep, etc. If you started your business to create more time with family, personal growth, hobbies, or to make a social or environmental change, the hope is your business will grow to need more than just you running the show. And that’s a good thing! Delegating responsibilities, whether that be through automation, hiring employees, or hiring contractors is a great business skill. It may mean as you find yourself short on time to keep all those plates spinning, you need to invest in a bit more time to find the best help to accommodate the growth.

Deciding to hire a website designer isn’t an immediate time gainer for you in your business. In reality, you are taking on a project that is going to need your time and attention. Do you have space in your business for the next few months to communicate, provide content and provide feedback to the website designer? Are there areas of your business you can scale back a bit (even lower sales temporarily) in order to have the time for your website? If the thought of managing business growth and the planning and administration tasks seems overwhelming, setting aside a CEO day can be extremely helpful. Being Boss has an amazing resource called the CEO Day Kit to help you plan out the next steps for your business, and how to schedule the time to bring in other people’s expertise.

You’re at a place in your business journey where, as the owner, you no longer want the responsibility of managing and upkeeping your business’ website.

Let’s build that delegation muscle! Here at DTK Studios, I want to be a member of my client’s teams. I want my clients to strive to spend as much time as possible in the parts of their business that fuels them. Just like I delegate my bookkeeping, administration tasks, and use tools to streamline content collection and communication, I want our clients to use us the same way. This milestone can be placed anywhere in your journey. You may be a brand new business and don’t want to even start with the responsibility. You may be a few years in and have goals that need more of your attention. Your business may need a rebrand or refocus and outside help will be the best way to successfully achieve the new look/feel/focus.

If any of these scenarios, thoughts, or feelings are common for you, it may be time to offload your website:

Your average weekly work schedule is at a manageable and enjoyable amount of tasks and you find yourself sighing when you have to add in updating website content.

You feel anxious and avoid updating your website because you have to relearn how to do it each time.

As you work on your business goals, your website is more of an energy drain than an area that is moving you forward.

Your business is rocking it, and you want to start taking more personal time and can afford to hire someone else to maintain your website.

You’re starting a business and want to invest in professionals from the beginning instead of taking the DIY route.

If this resonates with you, then you are my people! You see the benefits and values of professional website design to help grow your business from the start. My clients come to DTK Studios with their business plan, timeline, energy, and goals in the queue. You may not have the investment to hire employees, or even want to go that route. But you do want to get your business up off the ground and not trudge up the learning curve of website design. I would love to hear from you and what your business is all about.

Your small business is a valuable addition to the economy and is worth the investment in time, energy, and professional help. My hope is this article has given you some parameters and things to think about when you figure out when is the best time to invest in a professional website designer. I love supporting small and micro business owners and would love to hear from you and your website needs! Here’s a handy link to the contact page to set up a free thirty-minute consultation.

Curious about how a website designer can help your business succeed?

I sent out month-ish emails about website design for small businesses.

Erin Detka is the owner of DTK Studios, a website and marketing agency. DTK Studios works with small and micro business owners to create customer-focused simple websites designed quickly and within a small business budget. What was supposed to be an easy task, setting up a business, can turn into a huge list of tasks that some small business owners don’t have the knowledge or skills to do in the amount of time they thought it would take. By investing in a website designer instead of trudging up the learning curve, they can jump-start their business and start serving their community sooner. 

Erin Detka Owner of DTK Studios, Website Design for Small Businesses