It’s best to understand the different website platforms before you get to know any creative web designers.
The last thing I want is for you to fall in love with a web design company that builds a gorgeous website on a platform you simply don’t understand. The more you can handle the back-end of your own website, the more development cost you’ll save in the long-run.
I always ask our clients this question — “Do you want to be able to swap out photos, or change a price at any time on your own, or are you okay hiring out every single time you need something changed, large or small?”
If you don’t mind hiring out every dang time, then hire whoever you please! But if you’re more keen on saving costs and time by knowing how to tackle common website updates, it’s best if you pick a platform first. Fun fact — most web designers specialize in just 1 or 2 platforms, so they won’t always be able to create something on any platform you want! Knowing this will save so many heartaches and headaches, I promise.
This list is not for the e-commerce businesses with hundreds of products, or the standard business — this is for creative businesses with a sharp visual aesthetic — those who want a cutting-edge appearance, and who will prioritize that over almost anything. (Just don’t put visuals over SEO or user experience, because after all, we’re building a website so you can get found!)
Showit is a drag-and-drop website platform that integrates with WordPress for the blog, giving you the best of both worlds — an SEO friendly blog setup with a front-end that lets you build anything you want. See more pros and cons of Showit websites. Templates are a bit pricier, but you can also build something totally from scratch. This is super popular with photographers (who it was originally catered towards)!
Showit does have a free trial. You could simply grab a template and play around with it just to see if you’d be comfortable with that platform. I personally prefer it and recommend it.
Showit is similar to Squarespace in its ability to design beautiful, clean websites. Making small changes in the text and photos is easy. However, design changes may be more complicated than in Squarespace.
Squarespace to me is the one that got away (the creative website platform I almost used) — truth be told, this is the best option for those who want visual freedom, but who are afraid of “breaking their website.” Squarespace lets you design gorgeous layouts, but has some limitations that ultimately prevent you from making harmful mistakes.
Keep in mind that with both Showit and Squarespace, you can hire a custom developer to add custom code so it truly is one of a kind, but they’re really meant for you to use the platform as is, with the drag and drop system, and not adding custom code. That’s the point, really — no code is needed on either platform. So nope, no need to learn a new language just to launch a new website.
I’ll give you the rundown of other platforms, with the perspective of an entrepreneur who helps creative companies…
WordPress — the best for SEO, but the most complicated. It’s a double-edged sword here and can be costly to hire a custom developer.
GoDaddy — this platform is just too outdated for most of us modern creatives to want to use it. The back-end is just… too much, and not in a good way.
Wix — to me, Wix is the elementary school kid that’s trying to hang out with the teenagers, but isn’t doing well. I have seen improvements over the years, but their blog interface is not great for SEO, and the main website pages are really limited when it comes to designing the look you want.
Shopify — this is actually an incredible platform for e-commerce businesses, but if you have 30 or less products, I usually recommend building your website on Showit and integrating Shopify Lite.
This list of creative web designers is in no particular order. If anything, I’ve put the designers that I’ve most recently worked with first, as they’re top of mind and I’ve had yet another client tell me it was incredible working with them!
I would encourage you to look through the portfolios from the links I’ve shared below, and then choose your creative web designer from there.
Most people don’t know this, but Jacki was the first Showit web designer I ever met. She hired Salted Pages for a website audit and blog posts, and our partnership grew from there! I actually use one of her templates (can you guess which one?) and absolutely love working with her. She offers Showit templates, template makeovers and fully custom work for your website and brand design.
I can’t decide which is more wholehearted – the founder (Meggan) or the designs themselves. If you love minimal and editorial, this is your designer! She’s very talented, compassionate and will serve you well. We had the chance to work together on the website for Jocelyn Filley, in addition to Jocelyn’s client proposal and welcome guide.
The incredible designer that took our from-scratch Google Doc full of website copy for David Abel and made pure magic. See that project here. (We loved this because it was a pure copywriting-first design.)
Katie is a website designer, but also a poet in my mind. She has that clean, refined style you may want! She’s an absolute delight to work with and has so much expertise in the photography industry. We work together all the time and she understands exactly how to merge copy with on-brand design for a cohesive, converting website. Tausha Garrett Photography and Esther Makau are two recent clients we took on together.
I started working with Rachael on quite a few projects in 2020. I’ve never seen a designer with such knowledge and diversity in design style (like this re-brand we did for a photography duo, working on the original and new website together!) Take a look at our work for Millennium Moments (now Aspen Avenue), and Justine Fritz.
For those who love an eclectic aesthetic, Abby is your girl. She’s talented, thoughtful and quick-witted. Here’s one of our latest collaborations for Ripley Design Co.
Roxy designed this website for an interior designer. Her style is more minimal and refined. I am always stopping in place when I come across her work on Instagram.
Last, but certainly not least is Brannan — a creative web designer with a well-rounded, bright design style that takes eclectic, and turns it into something exceptional.
Here are our favorite Showit template shops! Again, in no particular order. The numbers simply help us organize this for you!
If you want a template, Northfolk’s templates offer SO much value. The founders are also absolutely incredible. Their templates look custom and include a lot of pages that most templates overlook.
While this team of creative web designers no longer takes on custom projects, their website templates are truly one of a kind and known to convert. Use the code: SALTEDPAGES for 15% off.
Yes, Jacki sells templates too! Her Showit templates are catered to the wedding industry with designs for florists, planners and photographers.
With a business that was developed on a cocktail napkin, and with templates waiting “at the bar,” you’ll walk away with a buzz and a wow-factor template. Our code, SALTEDPAGES, will give you 15% off too.
And if you want someone whose cup of tea is the branding and packaging side, look no further than…
Victoria used to be local to us in Fort Worth, so I’ve actually had the chance to grab coffee with her in person on multiple occasions. She has an eye for design, and she’s actually known for full suites of branding. Picture coffee shops with a logo, submarks, menus, table signs… The whole shebang, and with wholehearted style. That’s what you get with Victoria!
Lauren (yes, another Lauren!) designed all of our client gift boxes and custom chocolate bars. I adore her style and refer her for all of our clients who are in need of tangible branding.
Don’t overlook the brand and web designers mentioned above — Studio Stefan and Foil & Ink for example!
Plus the third hidden option — working with a template, with or without a designer’s help!
A template customized by and for Molly McManus Photography
This is our usual recommendation because *most brands don’t need a custom design. Unless you have super unique offers, a one-of-a-kind experience and an overall layout imagined that no template out there has, then it’s better to start with a template. You can still re-work the layout to look original, and add outstanding offers, but you’ll have something to start with, and that saves so much time!
While it can be an edge-of-your-seat experience to wait for your website to be built from scratch, it is a powerful way to get exactly what you want. As an SEO website copywriter for creative entrepreneurs, I love a custom design because we can make sure every single element is exactly where it needs to be. No filling in the blank, just whipping up a custom recipe for your customers, and your brand.
If you don’t have a preferred copywriting agency on your list of preferred vendors, let us know. Working together with a shared client project will give us the chance to see your work in action, and add you to this list too. Tell us on Instagram the type of work you prefer to take on, and we’ll keep you in mind!
The one type of vendor my team and I work with day in and day out? Web designers. 100%. Copywriting and web design simply cannot survive without each other. What’s the point of incredible messaging if it’s judged (and overlooked) because of how it looks? Pro tip — people don’t like reading copy on messy, distracting or confusing websites. But vice versa, you could be the best dressed person in the room and yet, if you stumble over your words, that impression will fall flat.
So, we will aways suggest (with a grain of salt) that you work with a professional to build your small business website.