Top 15 Creative Web Designers | Preferred Vendor List - saltedpages.com
There are thousands of creative web designers you could hire to create your small business’s website. Hopefully this list will help you find the creator who will not only design your dream website, but create a living, breathing visualization of your brand that you can evolve with.
I’m the kind of entrepreneur who hires the best fit for me and my brand, not necessarily the choosing the top recommendation from a list of companies. That being said, I know how impactful it is to have a hand-selected list to choose from.

But first, which platform is best for your small business website?

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 my 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.

Best website builders for 2023 creative businesses

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!)

1. Showit

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.

2. 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.

3. Other

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.

Top Showit Website Designers

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.

1. Foil & Ink – web design for photographers and wedding professionals

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.

Recent projects together include Olivia Marshall Photography and Kelli Avila Photography.

Artistic photography website, before and after

2. Rachael Earl

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.

3. Abigail Stone Designs

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.

4. The Kate Collective

Katie is an Arizona website designer. 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.

5. Studio Stefan

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.

6. Willow and White

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.

7. Golden Hour Designs

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.

Best Showit Templates

Here are my favorite shops!

1. Northfolk

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.

2. Foil & Ink

Yes, Jacki sells templates too! Her Showit templates are catered to the wedding industry with designs for florists, planners and photographers.

3. Tonic Site Shop

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.

Top Squarespace Designers

Red Met Yellow – they designed this website for our client with my copy
Ederra Design – higher in cost, but very experienced and capable. Such a sweet soul too!
Susan Kubes Design – very affordable and also very sweet!
Studio Crescent – Jess’s personal style is a bit more upbeat and fresh. Her process is also one of the most in depth that I’ve seen. (I wrote her copy actually!)

Top Branding Designers

And if you want someone whose cup of tea is the branding and packaging side, look no further than…

1. Victoria & Co. Design

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!

2. Elby Creative

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 my clients who are in need of tangible branding.

The Real Debate: DIY or Hire A Creative Web Designer

Plus the third hidden option — working with a template, with or without a designer’s help!

1. Pros and cons of DIYing your own website

  • It’ll take a lot of time, learning how to build your site, and then building it too
  • You don’t know what you don’t know, and this could result in a “broken” website with links that don’t work and issues that have potential customers leaving as soon as they land on your page
  • SEO could go south, unless you know how to do keyword research, and optimize both the back-end and front-end (meaning the technical side, like optimizing images, and the on-page side, like optimizing the paragraphs and headlines)
  • On the plus side, you’ll know the ins and outs of your entire site by the time you’re done, and can very easily handle future changes on your own
  • You’ll save money, but you might end up losing more money than you save with lost customers who can tell it’s not as professional and polished as a custom design

Showit website built by a creative web designer

A template customized by and for Molly McManus Photography

2. Building your creative website with a template

This is my 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!

  • You can DIY or hire a web designer for a template customization (like Foil & Ink who will customize their own templates for you, or Rebel & Rise who will customize any Showit template you bring their way)
  • You know what you’re getting into, so there are no surprises in terms of how it will end up looking (one of the scariest parts of a custom web design)
  • There’s usually add-on pages to get precisely what you need (like shop pages, lead magnets, pricing guides, welcome guides, etc.)
  • It’ll look unrecognizable once you add your own brand’s photos, fonts, colors and the whole shebang

3. Hiring a creative web designer for a from-scratch build

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.

  • Unbelievable creative freedom — your web designer and copywriter can truly think outside of the box to develop something remarkable for your brand
  • The best SEO results — each piece of copy, every optimized image and the header tags are custom-placed to bring the most traffic to your site
  • High-end appearance — it’s true, your website will look pretty spectacular. No re-dos or doubts. Unlike when I got a haphazard haircut a year ago, and it was so bad that I had to get it died (for the first time ever) and cut even shorter just to fix the first edition… Doing it right the first time is a true masterpiece.
  • More room — most templates are pretty slim when it comes to the amount of content on each page, which doesn’t always work in your favor. A custom design lets you build anything you can imagine, and provides more room for content, which is an SEO copywriter’s dream.

Custom website built for Amy Britton Photography

Want to be on this list of creative web designers?

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!

A love for copywriting x design

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.

Top 15 Creative Web Designers | Preferred Vendor List

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Image credits | Site template by Foil & Ink with customization by The Kate Collective


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