There are (at least) three good reasons to hire a web designer.

  1. You don’t have the time to design a website.
  2. You don’t have the skills to design a website.
  3. You want a fresh perspective on the website.

If you want to hire a web designer for any of those reasons, great! You’re on the right track. But you might not be ready to start the project. You may need to step back and review why you want to hire a web designer in the first place.

While a website is a critical part of doing business today and it’s right to prioritize it with other things like branding, there are some common misconceptions. Websites are frequently seen as a solution to a host of marketing problems (and alternately, the source of all kinds of problems). They’re also, mistakenly, seen as inexpensive or easy. We talk with eager clients all the time who want to skip past deeper problems with their business to get to the website. But a fresh web design alone won’t cure your ills. In fact, the web design process often reveals problems that clients didn’t know they had.

Here are three situations you might experience when it’s better NOT to hire a web designer:

Don’t hire a web designer because you aren’t getting leads through your current website.

Too many small business websites suffer from a hasty construction process that skipped critical, basic steps. A weak supporting strategy (or no strategy at all) leads to a host of marketing problems. These are often blamed on the website, but the problem starts much deeper. Often a few tweaks and the addition of some landing pages can be all you need. Before you scrap your site and start over, ask yourself:

  • What are the key characteristics of your website’s audience? Does your web design create the right emotions in them to trigger action?
  • What action do you want web visitors to take? Does your web design create barriers or make it easy to take action?
  • How are you promoting your website? What’s your social media strategy? Is the website integrated with your other marketing?

Analyze your overall marketing strategy to identify the right problem and fix it to start getting leads.

Don’t hire a web designer because you just had the greatest business idea and you need a website tonight.

Instead, buy a website domain name for your business idea. Claim your domain name quickly, then cool those jets and refine your business or marketing plan. Do that tonight instead and maybe we’ll talk tomorrow.

You might remember this commercial from Super Bowl XLVII. However tastelessly they communicate it, GoDaddy has a point. When you have a big idea you want to promote online, purchase your preferred domain name fast. There’s literally a whole world of people competing for the same name online.

Don’t start sketching grand plans and homepage layouts until you secure this. You might even purchase two or three variants of the same name. Don’t be afraid to take care of this yourself, most domain name registration companies make it easy.

If you need help with this step, a web designer or marketing agency can certainly do it with you. However, your domain name might be claimed by someone else in the time it takes to call and make an appointment with a web designer. When “the big idea” strikes you, get the domain name first.

Don’t hire a web designer if you don’t have a budget for social media and traditional marketing.

You might hear a voice say, “Build it and they will come.” That voice says you can set-up a website and visitors will be magnetically drawn to it without any more work. If you hear that voice, let me tell you it’s a liar and you may need to see a shrink if you’re hearing voices.

A website is one part of your marketing, sure. But you have to promote your marketing sometimes. If you don’t tell people about your website, they won’t know. And if they don’t know, they can’t come. Without some promotion, any new website will have trouble getting off the ground.

Design a promotion strategy that involves social media, paid online ads like Google AdWords, traditional marketing and even PR. And before you start the website project, budget smartly to make sure you do the website right with money left over to tell people about it.

Think you’re ready to get started on a new website project? Before starting, you may actually need a strategy session with a consultant. Or you might need to hold off on the site for a while and just claim a domain name (or two or three). And you have to have a budget ready. Get started with these things first and then you’ll be ready to hire a web designer.