Beware Of Professional Website Designers

If you are trying to build a website from scratch on the cheap, avoid professional website designers if you can. Most of them will charge you a small fortune to make your website even less useful than it is now. I say this based on actual experience working with professional website designers.

How To Screw Up Your Website

Grab a novel from your bookshelf and imagine giving it to the typical professional website designer. The first thing the designer is going to do is add a non-white background to each page to “make it look unique.” Then he’s going to change the black text to gray so it “blends in better”. Then he’ll add a column of features to the left and right sides of each page. But that will make the lines of text too short, so he’ll shrink the font size. If you’re lucky, he’ll stop there.

Let’s look at the damage done:

•     Non-white background: nothing is as readable as white background. That’s why for hundreds of years books and newspapers have spent money on bleached paper.

•     Gray font: if you want you text to be read, it shouldn’t “blend in,” it should stand out! Nothing stands out better than the opposite colors of black print on white background, so nothing is easier to read. If you want people to read your page, and not simply look at it, use black text on white background.

•     Extra columns: although columns in the left and right margins worked well enough when everyone read websites on full-sized computer monitors, these days these columns take up too much space on smart phones and tablets. Besides, so many people use this space for advertisements that the typical website reader has trained themselves not to look at the columns.

•     Smaller font size: again, why are you making it harder for people to read your website? When half the population needs to wear glasses to read normal size text, why make it smaller?

Of course the scenario is always different but you can clearly see the idea behind this.

Free Way To Avoid Professional Website Designers

I’m not sure why most companies even need professional website designers when there are thousands of free and paid themes for WordPress, Drupal, and other Content Management Systems (CMSes).

Your site doesn’t need to look like every other WordPress website. You can install a theme which will instantly change your layout and color scheme, and many themes will let you easily customize them (even if you don’t know HTML or CSS) so you can personalize your site even more.


But forget even that for a moment. It might be better to go with the stock theme, as I’ll explain in the next section:

Fire All Professional Website Designers (Except One)

The easiest websites to navigate are the websites which work similar to the websites we visit most often. With almost half of all active websites on the Web now running WordPress, we all know how to navigate the stock WordPress website.

That’s a huge benefit to your website. If your website looks like the stock WordPress website, customers will instantly know how to navigate it—and because they do, they’ll visit more pages on your site during each visit.

You can test this: create two copies of your site on sub-domains. For example, if your site is, create and After putting 100% of your regular content on both sub-domains, install a free custom theme on Make it a theme that looks very different from the stock WordPress theme.

Then go to Google AdWords and create an advertisement. Tell it to send 100 visitors to each sub-domain. After the ad finishes running, look at your logs. I’d be willing to bet that even though both sites get the same number of visitors (100), the stock WordPress theme gets more page views. More page views means more money for most websites.

If the stock WordPress theme is the best theme to have, then we don’t need an army of professional website designers—we just need the one guy who makes the default theme. On this website I have Thesis WordPress Theme. I love this minimalist theme and it follows my theory to keep it simple stupid.

Where Professional Website Designers Can Help

There is one exception where professional website designers can help—when you have a particular brand style. Think of Coco-Cola with its red and white swirls.

If you need to use the corporate style on your website, you’re going to need professional website designers to design it. But small businesses who are likely to be reading this article probably don’t need that level of corporate branding. (I’m not sure Coca-Cola needs it on their website either.)

Similar to this case, sometimes you will need help making slight modifications to your existing website to include your logo or other important information. Even though you have chosen the best WordPress theme, this is a case where it makes sense to hire professional website designers. It can take you hours to track down a feature in a theme, but experienced website designers who deal with this stuff every day can probably make a small change in minutes, and it’s often cost effective to pay them $20 instead of spending 5 hours searching through uncommented code.

How To Cut Through The Hype

Before you hire professional website designers, don’t ask them to show you their previous work. Instead ask them this one, very important question: show me a client of yours who saw an immediate boost in his income after you redesigned his site. Any firm with that kind of proof is worthy to be hired as professional website designers.



  1. says

    Yes I have heard of this too Akshay. We just need to be aware of these things as some designers do try to scam us. Now this makes it hard to find the good ones. :)

  2. says

    I’m a so-called professional web designer, and have made my living at it for 14 years. I’ve seen these horror stories time and again. It often seems like the quality and usability of a site is inversely proportional to the huge price tags.

    I take exception, however, to your blanket “never use a professional web designer ever” recommendation. I think one needs to shop around and be discerning. I know of good ones and bad ones. Caveat emptor, and get a referral first.

    But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some designers are terrific. And there are so many areas of website functionality where experience really helps. I’ve taken over plenty of websites where the client tried to do it him/herself and ended up making a big mess of things.

    • says

      Yes there are good web designers out there no doubt.. We just have to be careful just the same as many other computer repair, motor mechanics…etc the list goes on…

  3. says

    Hi Mitz, lots of great tips here. It’s good to take a step back and look at our sites with a critical eye now and then. Coloured text may ‘look’ great, but one soon tires of reading it. I subscribe to a print magazine that has a fine serif typeface (like Times New Roman), but it is more dark gray than black and the paper is an off-white (recycled?) colour, so it is hard on the eyes to readi it, especially if our vision is not 100%. A plain readable font for the post body, in black will never go out of style.

  4. says

    I’ll definitely start asking any new designer for proof that his designs work. I find that many designers think they are marketing geniouses, and they create terrible websites (based on conversions) It might look good, but that doesn’t mean it gets the “Buy it now” point accross.

  5. Staci Normand says

    I find a lot of web designers have no idea how to create a highly converting website. When I work with designers ( I’m a copywriter) It’s a constant back and forth as to what should be placed on the website. Sometimes I wish I was better at design.

  6. says

    Ha ha I am not saying they are bad because they for some websites they are needed! You just have to find the right one!! :)

  7. says

    Excellent article Mitz.This should also be considered in the decision making. Basically, if you don’t like a Web designer’s site, you probably won’t want them to design your site. I believe that in this industry, the portfolio speaks volumes. Check their portfolio and see if the style is right for you.

    • says

      Although some do not know what they are doing, we are not all in that category! Some of us do listen to what our clients want and only design a page based on that, we do make suggestions on what may or may not work too…but for the most can be beneficial to you new site look.

      I am slightly offended by such a posting as this, attacking people trying to make a living based on experience of one or two that maybe should not be in the business…this is yet again another form of generalization and discrimination with out full proof and totally bias!

      Harold Smith, Owner of Harold’s Enterprises, Canada

  8. says

    Excellent post. I’m in process of hiring a pro on , how can i make sure they don;t use a template? I mean I can look into templetmonster, however there are hundreds of templates.. Is there any other way to see if that a template?


    • says

      You have to ask for custom design options that you have thought of yourself and mix it up. Always look at their work first like it says in the article..