5 secrets you must know before hiring a web designer

This short guide explains what is really important to know before hiring anyone to build your website. I’m sharing this information for you to make an informed decision. This is aimed at entrepreneurs and small and mid-size companies.


  1. You can build it yourself
  2. Customization is not worth it
  3. Agencies are very expensive
  4. Retainer trap
  5. What really matters

Right now you might be wondering why would I share the secrets of the industry? 

To be honest, I have been working with online media for 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of hot air being sold for very little benefit for the buyer. Some may disagree, but this is from my personal experience.

Modern market has to be based on honesty, and it’s going that way because we all now have our online reputation. In the last secret you’ll see why this is my philosophy.


If you know nothing about web design, graphic design or copywriting and you’d rather hire someone else to do it, fine. In that case it’s better to hire a web designer.

! BUT ! If you have at least some idea how to lay out a page, and know how to use basic graphics editor like Photoshop, you can 100% build it yourself. 

I can prove it to you! Just follow my free Quick Website Builder Tutorial, and you will have a functional website online tonight or tomorrow.

OBVIOUSLY, I cannot teach you everything in a short tutorial, but by following the steps, you get the first version of your home page up and running, costing less than $100 a year.
Full disclosure: No affiliations


This guide is for WordPress and Elementor, which are very popular options today. There are also WIX, Squarespace and Shopify to name a few alternatives, but they cost more. All these platforms are built for people who don’t know anything about coding or design.



If you have time to study and build it yourself, that is BY FAR the cheapest option. 


Especially if you want to customize EVERYTHING.


To hire a web designer, you must know that most of them use platforms like WordPress, Webflow or Shopify to create your website.


That means each of these platforms have a library of tools and functions. Bulk of the work is done by using these tools, and most of the time, you will get satisfying results.


BUT. If the web designer has to build new custom elements or functions for the website from scratch, it becomes expensive very quickly simply because it takes a lot more time. I’ve seen quotes for Drupal websites starting from $30,000.


At that point they are writing new code using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL. 

If the customized thing that you want on your site is not absolutely essential to have, please don’t waste your money.  

Yes, if you hire a web designer, DO ASK for whatever changes or customizations you want to make, but listen carefully how much more it’s going to cost you. 


If you have a thick wallet, hiring an agency is an option.


I’m talking here to entrepreneurs and business owners who don’t want to spend over $20,000 to build their website and brand. If you have unlimited budget, go ahead and hire an agency.



The math is simple. Agencies are teams of people, and each of them have their monthly salaries, that you are going to pay.



You will get the parading and the bells and whistles, but at a very high rate. At the same time, all of the agencies are not great. Even if they have a good web designer, they might not have a copywriter, and the pretty website falls flat because the written content is not good enough. Some of them are great, sure.

Once you have established your business online, and are financially secure enough to dole out the money to an agency, you can go for it. But not before, or you go broke.  

And this is not the worst part…



Remember what I just told you about the team of the agency whose salary you are going to pay?



Yes, they know absolutely well that the project is not going last forever, and they have to milk more money as long as they can. 



That’s where the retainer comes into play, where they charge you hundreds or thousands of dollars each month for simple email support and some vague ‘maintenance’. Don’t believe the jargon.



This is my opinion, but in most cases I don’t think the retainer going up to hundreds is worth it. 



Many web designers and SEO experts also ask for a retainer. If they do, and you are willing to pay, make sure they explain clearly what they are offering for your money.

Retainer is often overpriced for the service provided. Make sure it’s clearly defined and you see the value.

Now that you know the four secrets no-one will tell you, what do you think is the last one?



I really hope this has been helpful for you so far.



The last secret is the biggest one, and that has to do more with marketing than web design.



If you run a business, you know that sales and marketing are the life and blood of the whole show. Your online presence, your business profiles, and your business website are essential parts of your marketing.



The truth for online business in general is this:


Most marketing is average at best.

Your website is the connecting point of your marketing, and it cannot simply say BUY THIS THING. 


Ok, if you literally have a web shop for a single product, then maybe, but you still need more than that.



What really matters?

  • Education, value and trust.

These three foundational elements are the keys to massive success in business. Why? 


Because most people are researching how to solve their problem and they value honest information.



If you can provide insider knowledge to people that will help them to make a better decision, you are by definition offering them valuable information.



And while you educate them, you give them value, which over time, builds trust in your authority.



It’s not just web design, offering free value and an amazing offer is the actual element that will define your online success



Your website has to be aligned with that clear message. Nice graphics and layout are secondary.

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Markus Hietanen

Markus Hietanen

Brand consultant