Anyone can make a website today. In fact, sites like WordPress andSquarespace make it downright easy to achieve. And while self-hosted WordPress sites are a little tougher to put together, most hosts will get the install up and running using a setup wizard.

Let’s aim higher. Sophisticated e-commerce platforms like Bigcommerce andShopify offer clean, well-designed templates as part of the monthly subscription cost. Want something extra special? You’ll find it under $100, and it will work beautifully.

So Why Hire a Web Designer or Agency?

I honestly can’t justify building a custom WordPress theme for most clients. It’s senseless. And many clients know I can purchase themes for next to nothing. So why keep selling websites at all?

Because clients need strategy.

They don’t need an expert to code a website- they need an expert to decide what content goes on it, why it goes there, which plugins to use, how to tie functionality together, how to generate contacts and how to market in a way that causes prospects to enter a sales funnel.

Consider this awesome quote from a recent NET magazine article,

“Then there’s the phenomenon that’s putting the squeeze on agencies at the lower end: the so-called commoditisation of web design. Platforms like Squarespace ( have made good design widely available and affordable, meaning small companies with simple needs can now build their own sites. Agencies that have so far relied on this kind of business and don’t find ways to innovate will begin to see a downturn.”

How true! I’ve heard freelance buddies moan over ever-shrinking client budgets. And working at an agency I’ve seen how little clients care about development work. (Note this is true of marketing-focused sites. Those with more extensive functionality still care- but aren’t sure if “there isn’t already something out there…”)

It’s Time for Change

To web professionals: don’t panic, just change your game. Be upfront and honest with prospects. I suggest adopting a new narrative:

“Client, we don’t spend a large portion of your budget on coding the website. That’s not the hard part these days. Instead we use a trusted theme, and then focus on real value: engaging graphics, targeted messaging and trackable calls to action. You’ll find our design process is very different from what you might have experienced in the past. And that we prefer testing and iteration over concrete decisions. We shine when you retain us for ongoing strategy, but even if you don’t we’ll leave you knowing how you ought to proceed.”

Not only does this approach build trust, it also helps establish your authority. You’ll find the client more receptive of your advice going forward, and very likely interested in all that great strategy you just mentioned.

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