As Featured In Fatstacks

Why you SHOULDN’T hire a Web Designer – Hire an SEO Instead

Published Categorised as Website Design, SEO

A web designer is a really weird term when you think about it. Anyone can be a web or website “designer” if they’re talented at graphic design. In essence, the very basic form of web design is with wireframes and pretty pictures. There’s not a lot about the web design that goes about working for you on generating you traffic and leads from the web.

That’s right – web designers are probably the LAST in line when it comes to people who contribute towards the ultimate conversion of your would be customers, into buying customers. That’s only if they’re actually focused on the bit that they contribute towards – and that’s CONVERSION.

For every other aspect of generating traffic, the only way a web designer can contribute to the website project is to DAMAGE it. It’s the true “website integrators” of the world who need to limit the damage that web designers do in achieving the overall goal of getting visitors onto your website (Website SEO) so you have a chance of optimising for conversion (CRO).

So in short summary – web designers have more opportunity to DAMAGE your website project, than they do to enhancing it.

Don’t hire web designers, hire an agency who knows how to work with website designers to limit the damage they do to your project whilst maximising the impact these talented people can have on converting visitors into customers.

Here are a few ways a web design agency or freelance web designer can screw up your business

#1 Providing an overly complex design that relies on lots of code to function – slowing down your site

This is a classic.

It’s like on day 1 of web design school these guys got the handbook on literally everything that you shouldn’t do when designing a website and just followed that as the curriculum.

Overly heavy designs rely on Javascript. These scripts have to load each time a page loads, and in many cases scripts get loaded on EVERY page of your website, regardless of whether they’re used.

We use a plugin called PerfMatters to handle these issues with unused Javascript generated by functionality providing plugins and software. The LAST thing you want is for the visual design of the site to start contributing to slowing the site down – site speed is a Google Ranking factor, so this will ruin chances of being on page 1 without spending a LOT of money on high speed hosting if the designer goes overboard.

#2 Ignoring site structure optimisation, reuse of URLs or redirections if replacing an old website

This one’s another doozy.

I hate it when someone hops onto an SEO support group saying “I have this client…they’re worried about the SEO impact of the work we’re doing… should I redirect URLs…. What should I do about moving from the old site to the new one in terms of SEO”

I’m like – WOW – your client hired a web designer! She should have hired an SEO!

You just know that the Web Designer is going to absolutely TRASH the website because typically even when they’re provided advice from people who know SEO – they don’t even understand the language. The dangerous web designers however know of the words, understand enough, and then completely make a shit show of the project anyway.

They don’t pay attention to whether the domain was dominant on www or non-www – think this is a freaking design or aesthetic choice! What the hell!

They ignore the backlink profile alterations that they’re making and the impact on off-page SEO that creating new pages and not re-using or redirecting the old URLs will have.

This is a great way for a business to pretty much lose visibility in Google within a few months for everything but their company name!

#3 Attempting to “Search Engine Optimise” your website when they should stick to graphic design

Attempts to Search Engine Optimise by web designers can actually be more harmful than them just leaving the site as it is.

The common misconception is that you can “SEO Your Website” by simply installing an “SEO Plugin” like Yoast SEO and getting all the lights to go green – which basically means you should rank top of search right?


You need to have a foundational understanding of what you’re optimising FOR to be able to then structure the site and your content in a fashion that’s optimal for attracting and retaining visitors.

Web Designers will typically see SEO as a “box ticking exercise” or they’ll call it some form of “search engine manipulation” and state something like “just write it for the visitor and everything will work out”


Search Engine Optimisation is as much “market research” to understand how your market talks about your products or services, as much as it’s about “keywords” – what are keywords after all, other than exactly what your potential customers are entering into a search engine to find businesses like you. Why on earth would you want to “guess” what these were when an SEO Agency (who can also deliver you a fully designed and working website) can provide you with exactly the information you need – and then go ahead and implement that information in an SEO AND customer focused way?

Many of these web designers won’t even have access to the tools they need to do the necessary keyword research (market research) for your business anyway!

Many of them will tell you they do – then all they’ll actually do is go and copy a competitor without knowing if the competitor is actually well optimised. (Further to that, copying the competitor’s on page content provides no guidance on how to use the primary, secondary and LSI Keywords necessary to build relevance and ranking.

If your freelance web designer, or web design agency is taking the “painting by numbers” approach to SEO and following a dated checklist of “how to SEO a website” you can be sure you’re in for a rough time ahead.

# 4 Configuring WordPress incorrectly and leaving template content out of sight, but still published

This is another classic one from Web Design agencies who haven’t got any appreciation for the damage they can do to a website whether it’s brand new or a complete redesign project moving from Wix to WordPress or something similar.

Almost all projects we pick up that have been built by “web design first” website agencies have these inherent issues.

  • Blank category pages being indexed
  • Website Design template posts are published – your site is a local garage and you’ve got a post that Google can see talking about “coffee beans” or “lorem ipsum”
  • Website Design template pages are published – more “lorem ipsum”

All of this unnecessary content may not seem like a big deal – your customers can’t see it, so what’s the problem?


Google can see these pages.

Google can see broken links, links to http versions of websites – meaning you’re providing “mixed content” warnings to Google – sending people off to non-secure versions of websites (this is common in templated web design websites)

Google see’s that you’re trying to rank for something to do with “coffee beans” so it now wonders whether your local garage is actually a garage come coffee house? (this is a topical relevance issue – by putting too many diverse topics on a website, you make Google question what the site is actually about)

Google see’s content that other web designers have previously published on behalf of their unwitting clients! (you’re another one of those clients!)

Google basically see’s a website that hasn’t had the care and attention it needs and deserves to rank.

Therefore it will pass your site over in favour of one that’s been built by a website agency (website integrators remember) who knows what they’re doing and hasn’t made all these simple mistakes that your “website design first” website agency has made.

What should I do if my web design agency or freelancer has screwed up my website?

Don’t panic

Act fast

The last thing you want is for Google to start de-indexing pages because the web design agency has failed to re-use URLs, implement canonical tags or redirect URLs from your old website to your new one.

Equally, if it’s a brand new website, you could be off to a rocky start – so it’s time to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to driving traffic to your website from Google.

Whether you have a local business website or a complicated eCommerce website – the problem of losing, or not getting as much website traffic as you SHOULD be getting because your web design agency has done more damage than good is a very real problem for your business.

Here at Future State Media we’re used to working with all manner of websites, not just our done for you eCommerce websites for Amazon Sellers – but also Local Websites for Local Businesses.

If you’ve run into problems with your Web Design freelancer or Agency, get in touch and let’s talk about how we can get you the traffic you deserve!

By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.