Web designer vs Web builder

by Rob Owen

Posted on 12th February 2020

Web designer vs Web builder

Why hire a web designer rather than using an online web builder?

This is a question that is often asked.

With web builders like Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy etc. why do you need to hire a web designer when you can build your website yourself.

In some circumstances, hiring a professional web design is not the best option.

If you are a new business with limited funds, then using an affordable website builder could be an option.

However, if you are a small or medium sized business then using a free website builder could cost your company money in wasted man hours and lost revenue.

In this post we will look at both options and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What is a website builder?

So, before we start we should look at what a website builder is.

A website builder is an online tool that allows you to build a website without any coding or design knowledge.

Usually you select from a gallery of pre-made templates and are then able to customise by dragging and dropping elements like images and text.

Instead of having to learn CSS, HTML and other coding languages you are relying on the applications inbuilt functions and code.

What does a web designer do?

The short answer is that it really depends on who you hire. Like in all walks of life there are good designers and bad designers. Assuming you hire someone good they will bring a huge amount of skills and experience to the table.

A good designer will take your vision and turn it into reality, gaining an understanding of your business and your customers and creating a bespoke design and structure to your site that will aid conversions and generate more sales.

Should everyone hire a professional website designer?

In fact, for many people hiring a professional is not the right move.

If you are an individual, blogger, start-up/new business, small non-profit or have an unproven concept then maybe using a web builder is the best option.

Once you have an established customer base and are generating sales then you should probably look to upgrade your website with a professional design.

What should be the deciding factor?

In simple terms paying for a website should pay for itself. If hiring a professional designer is going to lose you money, then you should go with a website builder.

So when should you hire a professional designer?

If website builders are so affordable then why shouldn’t everyone use one? If a website builder costs £16 a month and a professionally designed site costs £2,000 then aren’t you saving over £1,800 by using a website builder?

Not really. It’s not about how much a professionally designed site costs, it’s about how much it will cost your business if you don’t have a professionally designed site.

You have a company selling widgets at £10 each.

Option 1 is you build your own website using a ‘free’ web builder.

Option 2 is you hire a professional designer and pay £2,000

With option 1 you must factor the hidden costs of the time it takes to build your site. If it took an employee 100 hours to put the site together and you pay that employee £15 an hour, then their time needs to be factored into the cost.

With option 2 if the business generated an additional 200 sales by having a professional looking site then that would cover the initial design costs.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Website builder



With most web builders you pay a low monthly fee.


With a web builder you could potentially have a basic site up and running within a few hours.


Not a unique design

All web builders use templates, so your site will not be unique, there may be 100s or even 1,000s of other sites using the same design.

These templates are built to be as generic as possible to be used across as many sites as possible, so they are not specifically tailored to your business or sector.

Poor SEO

Many free website builders have bad SEO. They do not offer very good tools to be able to optimise your website for search engines.


What is your time worth? This needs to be factored into the true cost of a website.

Web designer


Professional design

When you hire a web designer you are hiring a skilled and experienced professional. Someone who understands design best practices and is up-to-date with latest industry trends.

Unique design

Although some so-called professional web designers utilise templates, if you hire a decent designer they will create a bespoke design. This ensures that your website will be unique and will stand out from the crowd.

SEO optimised

A good web designer or agency should be able to build your site to be optimised for SEO. They should be able to conduct keyword research to help identify the best keywords to rank for and make sure your site is optimised for those keywords.


Going back to the same question, how much is your time worth?

Hiring a professional means, you are free to concentrate on running your business.



The main issue with hiring a professional designer or agency is the initial upfront cost. If you have little or no spare cash this can be a real problem.


Having a custom designed website takes time. It can take as much as 14 weeks to deliver a professionally designed site. With a web builder you could have something up and live in a matter of hours.


As with any industry the quality between designers varies. Anyone can call themselves a web designer and quite often use the same web builder to create a website that you would use yourself.

Don’t decide purely on price. Shop around, get quotes, look at previous work before you finally choose a designer.


So, web designer or web builder?

Most websites are built to sell whether that be a physical product or service therefore the purpose of your site is to make money. It all comes down to risk vs reward.

If you don’t have much money, aren’t making much money or have an unproven concept then you should go with a design builder.

If you are making money, value your or your employees time and feel that you are losing business by not having a professional website then you should really look to hiring a professional.

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