Hiring a Web Agency vs. Using a Cheap Website Builder – Which Should You Choose?

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Website Design
Two men boxing representing choosing between a website builder or a web agency.

December 30, 2022

byAnkit Vora

Hiring a web design agency is expensive. On average, web design agencies charge anywhere from around $1,000 – $10,000 for a basic website. 

On the other hand, using a cheap website builder is dangerous. 

If you’re a local business owner looking to build a website on a tight budget, you may be wondering – 

“Does it even make sense to spend thousands of dollars on a web design agency? Or should we opt for a cheap website builder?”

Confused?

Allow me to help.

Throughout this blog post, I’ll share my opinions on whether a local business should hire a web design agency or use a cheap website builder.

Ready to dive in? Let’s roll.

First, Let’s Talk About Using a Cheap Website Builder

On a tight budget? 

Don’t have the technical skills and resources to code your website from scratch? 

You don’t really need to hire a freelance web designer + developer or a dedicated web design agency to build your website. You can opt for a cheap website builder like Weebly, Zyro, or Square Online (for online stores) – just to name a few. 

Some of them even offer a freemium model.

You don’t need to learn how to code to build your website from scratch. Instead, you’ll have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of customizable templates to choose from and full-stack web development tools. Using the drag-and-drop functionality, you can customize your website as per your needs. 

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

But let me tell you – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Using a website builder is a decent option – only if you’re okay with building an okay-ish 4-5 pager website with no personality. However, if you genuinely want to build a unique, visually-appealing, and highly-functional website with advanced features – I would not recommend using a website builder. 

First thing’s first – cheap website builders offer limited features. One common example is the lack of support for eCommerce functionality. If you run a local business that wants to sell, add or manage your products online, then you’ll face a hard time doing so. 

Additionally, some website builders have limitations when it comes to:

  • The number of pages that can be added to your website.
  • The ability to customize specific aspects of your website’s functionality or design.
  • Storage available for your media files. 
  • Monthly traffic limit.
  • Most of them don’t support tracking codes and Google Analytics. 

Building specific features not supported by the platform is a real hassle. A few approaches you can take are:

    • Custom code the feature – but it requires technical knowledge and effort on your end. Most cheap website builders offer limited support for custom code. Some examples of such features our clients have requested include testimonial sliders, hover boxes, and filtering systems. 
  • Use third-party tools and plugins that can provide you with the necessary functionality.
  • Use a different website builder with advanced features – but you’ll have to move your website – which is a complicated process in itself.

Also, it’s important to note that when you use a website builder, you’re stuck.  If you want to move your website to another platform, you’ll find that it’s a time-consuming process – because you’ll have to move website content manually from one platform to another. While some website builders provide the tools and options to export or import website content, it’ll take too much time and effort on your end. It’ll require technical assistance – which means you’ll probably have to hire a consultant. 

Recently, our experts helped MoneyFit redesign and rebuilt their website from scratch. Their previous website was on Squarespace – however, after facing gazillions of problems, they consulted with our web design experts – who advised them to move to WordPress. And that’s what they did. The entire design + development part took about seven months. You can find their website here

Next, let’s talk about some obvious problems:

  • Millions of business owners use cheap website builders like Weebly or Zyro. Each of these builders offers hundreds, if not thousands, of ready-to-use, customizable templates. Your competitors may be using the same templates – which means no matter how much you customize your website – it’ll never be truly unique. 
  • Most cheap website builders are not optimized for mobile devices. 
  • You’ll have to spend time and effort building your website from scratch. 
  • Most cheap website builders don’t offer detailed documentation and resources. Also, they don’t have dedicated priority customer service in place to assist you – in case you have any queries or require technical assistance. 
  • If the website builder ever goes out of business, you’ll lose access to your website – all the time, effort, and money you spent on website development, SEO, and branding will go down the drain.
  • Website builders offer no SEO advantage. While some website builders offer basic SEO tools or features, such as adding meta tags or creating sitemaps, more features are generally required to ensure that a website will rank well in search engine results.
  • And more!

Most businesses we have worked with have had horrible experiences with website builders – which is the reason they hired our experts at redfox visual to rebuild their website from scratch. Last week, I tapped into my network –   

Ankit LinkedIn Post

Sanketee Kher, a freelance content marketer, shared her experience with using a website builder – “As a freelance content marketer, I needed to have a website to bring in clients. To start off, I created a website on Wix using their templates and drag-and-drop tools. Initially, it served its purpose but since I’m scaling, I need a website that looks super professional. So, I hired a web design agency.

By working with a web design agency, I not only invested in their expertise, but I also invested in my peace of mind. I got a professional website that is optimized for conversions. Best part? I got two high-intent inquiries within a week and tons of compliments.” 

Alongside this, I reached out to Lexi Chavez, UI/UX Developer at redfox visual- for her input on using a cheap website builder –

Website builders are made for the purpose of having a cheap alternative if you need very simple websites, like if you were a one-person team opening your very first start-up and didn’t have the funds. As a user, and not a developer, I’ve used a handful of website builders and they all have their own individual issues, but I’ve found the majority of them have a bad experience with loading speeds and storage. You cannot customize them to how you like because often you are paying for premade templates, and you cannot reorganize them how you want to. 

They don’t have a lot of storage space, and support is often very limited. Agencies are able to take that kind of work off of your plate and fully customize your website, so it fits your business, and of course, we are always happy to assist with support.”    

I’m not saying – website builders are horrible. They’re good because they offer a range of templates, design tools, and other features that make it easy to create a basic website without needing any technical expertise or knowledge of web development. 

However, cheap website builders don’t offer the same control and flexibility as hiring a web development agency or building your website from scratch. 

And they’re not suitable for more complex or advanced websites. It’s essential to carefully consider your specific needs and goals before deciding whether or not to use a website builder.

That being said, let’s try to understand whether hiring a web agency is a smart move or not, especially if you’re tight on budget. 

Should I Hire a Web Design Agency Instead?

Like I mentioned before, on average, web design agencies charge anywhere around $1,000 – $10,000 for a basic website. 

But that’s just a rough estimation.

The cost of a website can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the website, the number of pages, the level of customization, and the agency’s rates and fees. 

You might pay at the lower end of this range for a simple, brochure-style website with a few pages and basic functionality. You could pay on the higher end for a more complex website with multiple pages, advanced functionality, and custom design elements.

For complex websites, it’s obviously more.

This may make you wonder – “Is it even worth the investment?”

The answer is – yes!

Like we mentioned in the previous section, your website will never truly be unique – should you choose to use a website builder. That’s because millions of businesses, including your competitors, are using the same templates as you’ll. 

However, when you hire a web agency, they’ll listen to your requirements, get an idea of your needs, and work collaboratively with someone from your team to propose a unique, out-of-the-box design. At redfox visual, here’s what our process looks like –

“Once our team has an idea of the client’s needs and has provided a proposal, Taylor (our in-house designer) will take the client’s branding (or create a branding guide for them) and use that to shape the look of the website mock on programs like Adobe Illustrator. 

After a few rounds of edits and an internal review, the mock is sent to our dev team. There are plenty of times when edits to the designs happen on the dev side, but overall they are always for optimization or user experience!

And while our development process varies depending on the website and the clients we’re working with, we always build homepages first. Again – I reached out to Alexandra to understand what redfox visual’s development process looks like. Here are her inputs:

“Our development process can vary per website and what works best for that particular site, but we always build our homepages first. They set the feel of the website, so it’s one of the most important starting steps. 

After that, we have a few internal page mocks of the most popular pages. Once we’ve built a handful of pages, our team will have internal reviews to ensure the pages look good to send to the client for the next review. 

After the client has reviewed (and maybe approved) the page we will make any edits, optimize for mobile, and then we are done on that page! This process goes through all of the pages and extra features the clients may have requested up to launch! 

After launch, we want to make sure our clients are familiar with the website so I will always train them to use the site to change content.”

When you work with a reliable web design agency, you can expect them to build a website that’s actually unique and looks and feels just like what you’ve always desired it to be. Also, let’s not forget how much time and effort you’ll be able to save – which you’d have otherwise spent building your website using a website builder.

Since the web design agency will be building your website from scratch (they’ll probably custom-code your website), you’ll not be bound by any website builder platform. This means – no monthly traffic restrictions, and you won’t be bound by a website builder’s dedicated website hosting service. 

Love GoDaddy? Or Bluehost? Maybe Hostinger? 

You’re free to choose your hosting provider.

Need specific custom-coded features? When you hire a web design agency, you will have flexibility in terms of the design and content of your website. However, the exact level of flexibility will depend on the agency and the specific terms of your agreement.

In some cases, web design agencies may have strict processes and policies in place that limit your ability to make changes or request revisions to the design. In other cases, the agency may be more flexible and open to making changes based on your feedback and requests – we are the latter one.

It’s important to discuss your needs and expectations with the web design agency before you hire them. Make sure to ask about their processes and policies and find out if they are willing and able to accommodate your requests for changes or revisions.

Let’s talk about the downsides.

A few downsides of hiring a web design agency are:

  1. Cost: Hiring a web design agency to build your website is expensive compared to using a website builder.
  2. Time: Hiring an agency can take time. There are gazillions of all-talk-poor-results agencies out there. You will have to research and compare different agencies. 
  3. Communication: Want your website to meet your expectations? You need to maintain effective communication with the web design agency you hire. We don’t mean – you should spend all day communicating with them. No – instead we recommend appointing a point of contact from your team who will be in charge of the communication. 

Hire a Reliable Web Design Agency! We’ll Rock Your Website!

While we highly recommend choosing a web design agency over using a cheap website builder, don’t just go for any web agency you find on the web. It’s imperative to take your time, conduct research, and compare different agencies. Read our article on how to hire the right web design agency for your Idaho-based business here.

Or if you want to avoid going through all the trouble, you can hire us.

We let our work and testimonials speak for ourselves. Allow us to share some of our past client reviews:

review 4

review 3

review 2

review 1

Don’t wait around!

Hire the #1 web design agency in Boise today.

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