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When to Leave Web Design to the Professional

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/14/2010

You've got a web site to build, and you want to save money by building it yourself. Is this a good idea? Well, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Read on to find out if you should use professional web site design, or if you can pull the web design off yourself!

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    In order to help you decide if you should hire a professional web designer for help with your website, there are a few things for you to consider. Ask yourself these questions, and evaluate your answers to help you in your decision. Sometimes in an effort to save time and money, people decide to design their websites on their own, without really understanding the depth of the undertaking.

    What do I want? Take some time to consider this one pretty heavily, because the more refined your ideas are, the better. Do you want an online ordering system? Do you want a forum, or a guest book to allow your users to interact? All of these things will play a part in whether or not you will be able to implement the design and development of the web site yourself. See Planning a Web Site the Right Way for help with making sure that you have your web site planned in a manner which will make designing, developing, and launching your site much easier. See Features that Make Good Website Design to help you decide.

    What will this take? The more you want, the more hosting space and time it will take to create. If you plan on having an order system where financial transactions take place, you'll need to have security certificate to keep your customer information safe. You'll also need databases to store your catalog information, along with your order information. With this in mind, many web sites can become highly technical and need more than most people may realize.

    Do I have the know-how to get this done? If you know basic HTML and CSS, great. You are one step ahead of a lot of the crowd. You can build and implement a simple web site, and likely use open source coding for some of your web site features. Depending on what you want and need, you may be able to tackle it yourself.

    What do my finances look like? If you do not have much start up capital, chances are you are not going to be able to afford a professional designer. If this is the case, do what you can to get a web site up and running if you feel that you absolutely have to have it; otherwise, wait until you have saved up the necessary money to launch your web site the right way.

    What does my time line look like? Do you need this web site in a hurry (yesterday would have been nice, right?) or, can you wait a while to make sure that you have the right budget and designer found in order to make your web site launch the best it can be? This can be a major deciding factor in how you proceed with your web site.

    Obviously, some of these questions will have answers that will make your decision a hard one. If you do not have the money to hire a professional, or the know-how to design and develop the website yourself, you'll definitely be in a hard spot. If this presents itself, you should likely save up some money until you can afford to hire a designer.

    If you are unclear on whether or not you should leave the web design to the professional, consult with a few designers to see what you are working with. Generally speaking, the more complicated your web site structure and design, the more likely you are going to need a professional web designer to assist you with the venture.

    Here are some indicators that you will need a professional web designer:

    • Your site needs security.
    • Your site needs a custom catalog an ordering system.
    • Your site needs major customization outside the scope of your ability.
    • Your site needs graphics, and other media that you cannot provide or design yourself.

    While these are not the only indicators of needing a professional, and sometimes these can be worked around, this will provide you with a set of guidelines to use when it comes to deciding what to do with your web site. If you still need help deciding whether or not to hire a professional web designer for help, you may want to consult a few professionals to see.