It seems like a great deal at the time: for less than the price of a fancy restaurant meal, you can get a website for your business or personal brand. Someone on the other side of the world will slap together a quick five-page site and write some quick copy. The end result of cheap website design is a placeholder on the Internet – a placeholder that looks like it was designed in a hurry and hurts your brand much more than it helps. Even worse, sometimes you won’t even be able to access the back end of the site to update it, so you’re stuck with a static site that doesn’t work for SEO purposes. Not only have you spent money on the site, but you’re also losing money on opportunity costs.

Fortunately, business owners and professionals have other website design options that bring control back to them and help with their branding. Online website builders, freelance website designers and agency website design are all options that come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

Online Website Builders

You can use online website builders like Squarespace, WordPress, or Weebly to build your professional website. Even WordPress now has a fairly easy to use WSYWIG (what you see is what you get) interface to build pages, known as Gutenberg. Squarespace and Weebly are more drag-and-drop interfaces to create website pages.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Allows you to control your design and content
  • Good for those just starting out

Cons:

  • Often only very basic customization
  • May require basic HTML knowledge
  • Limited mobile optimization
  • May be missing basic SEO elements

Freelance Website Designers

The next alternative to cheap website design for your website is to hire a freelance website designer. These designers can provide professional website design, usually on a platform of your choosing, such as WordPress or Squarespace. They have the knowledge to customize the site to your specifications and often can contract with another freelancer for services like logo design or website copy.

Pros:

  • Professional design
  • Lower cost than an agency – typically, freelancers charge per job
  • Connections to complementary service providers
  • Specialized
  • Flexible

Cons:

  • If the designer gets sick, there is no backup
  • Initial risk that the quality will be what you want
  • They only do one thing – website design

Agency Website Design

The third option is to pay for agency website design. A marketing agency can be a one-stop shop for your branding, including logo design and marketing materials. They may be very efficient. However, they can be expensive, especially for a single project.

Pros:

  • Expertise
  • Complementary services
  • Efficiency

Cons:

  • Price
  • Location
  • May try to impose their vision on you

There are pros and cons to each of these three alternatives to cheap website design. However, by either doing it yourself with online website builders or spending the money on freelance website designers or agency website design, you have a better chance of getting a website that helps your brand.