Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
When you need a new website, where do you turn?
There are quite a few options including a web design agency, various web design services, or a completely DIY approach.
Agencies are expensive, and doing it yourself takes a ton of time. Plus, it comes with its fair share of headaches.
Thankfully there’s a better way to get the quality you deserve without breaking the bank. Think professionally designed templates plus affordable and timely customization.
We looked at dozens of different options and narrowed things down to our top five recommendations.
From my favorite site builder to hiring freelancers or an agency and everything in between, you’re sure to find the best web design services for your new website.
The 5 Best Web Design Services to Consider:
- Wix — The best DIY web design site builder
- Themeforest — The best selection of affordable themes
- StudioPress — The best for premium, high-quality themes
- Freelancers — The best for simple website development/branding
- UI/UX Agencies — The best for complex websites
#1 – Site Builders — The Best DIY Web Design Services
Building a professional website is easier than it’s ever been thanks to modern-day website builders, like Wix.
The best thing about drag and drop site builders? You don’t need to know how to code or spend thousands hiring a designer to do the heavy lifting for you.
Wix’s drag and drop interface is incredibly easy to use. And it’s truly drag and drop, meaning you’re not tied down to a traditional three-column layout like other site builders.
You can control the size and placement of everything, including text, images, videos, shapes, and more.
Plus, there are hundreds of free templates you can use to get started so you don’t have to start from scratch. Alternatively, you can use Wix’s ADI (artificial design intelligence) tool to get a complete website in minutes.
Furthermore, you can try Wix for free… forever.
However, the free plan is extremely limiting and you can’t connect your own custom domain. So, I recommend upgrading when you’re ready to publish your site.
With that said, there are a few downsides, including:
- Built with beginners in mind
- Can be incredibly time-consuming
- Expensive add-ons
Whether you’re looking for a personal website or a full-featured business page, Wix has everything you need and a variety of plans to suit users of all shapes and sizes.
Their basic website plans (no ecommerce) include:
#2 – Themeforest (Now Envato Market) — The Widest Selection of Affordable Themes
If you’re looking for an easy way to DIY your website without using a page builder like Wix, ThemeForest (now Envato Market) is an excellent place to get an affordable and customizable theme.
If you’re anything like us, site builders don’t give you quite the flexibility and scalability you need. As such, you’re using a platform like WordPress, Shopify, BigCommerce, or Drupal.
And with those platforms come customization and web design challenges. Which… is where a customizable theme comes in.
ThemeForest a marketplace packed full of design assets with a nearly limitless selection of themes for all the major site platforms, including the ones we mentioned above.
Even though most site platforms like WordPress and Shopify have a selection of built-in free and premium themes, they’re usually very basic.
Plus, those are the same themes most people use. So, they’re not unique nor will they help you stand out online.
However, choosing a theme through ThemeForest means you get a unique look with extra features and functionality to create and design a site that works exactly as you want it to.
Most of ThemeForest’s themes range in price from as little as a few dollars to upwards of $100 or more. However, they’re fully built-out with tons of features, all the customization you need, and easy installation.
Plus, you can easily sort available themes by:
- Date added
- Number of sales
This is an excellent way to avoid themes that aren’t compatible, have low rates, and are outside your budget.
It’s important to note you can always change colors, fonts, images, and overall branding of the theme you choose. So, it’s more critical and beneficial to pay close attention to theme functionality and overall layout instead of colors and other things you can change later.
#3 – Premium Themes — Best for Reliable Themes
Best Premium WordPress Themes
Large library of reliable, professional themes for WordPress websites. Continuous updates, SEO optimized, and responsive designs created by world-class website designers. StudioPress themes start at $129.95 and most include the Genesis framework as well.
Theme marketplaces are great for finding a solid theme on a tight budget.
But sometimes, you just want a great theme that won’t have problems and are willing to pay $200 or so for it.
This is where premium themes come in.
- The code is rock solid. You won’t have ongoing problems or bugs from your theme.
- Ongoing updates. Most theme studios keeps themes updated for years to come. That reduces bugs and security risks.
- They look amazing. These studios have great designers working on each theme so it’s a way to get an amazing design without having to pay a world-class designer yourself.
Our favorite premium WordPress theme studio is StudioPress. They’re actually owned by WP Engine now, all their themes are available for free to WP Engine customers. But you don’t have to use WP Engine as your web host, you can still get pay for any of the StudioPress themes individually.
If you’re on another site platform, search around for a reputable theme studio that specializes in that platform. They will charge more per theme but it’s absolutely worth it in our experience. And it’s still way cheaper that having an agency or freelancer design a site from scratch.
#4 – Freelancers — Best for Branding Standard Sites
At a certain point, you’ll outgrow any theme that you’re using. You’ll need too many custom elements to truly express your brand effectively.
There’s still a way to get an amazing site at a very reasonable cost.
Instead of working with an agency, find a web design freelancer. There’s tons of them around.
Look for them on:
Even with sites that have millions of visitors per month, we still use freelancers because:
- There’s plenty of web design freelancers out there, many of them are very good.
- They can give you all the customization that you need for your brand. If they can’t handle your request, you’re probably asking for too much anyway.
- Most will charge a few thousand dollars for a site design. Even a top-tier freelancer will only charge $10-20K per site.
The downside to this is that you also need to get the design built, usually by a front-end engineer. Some designers can also do this themselves but not all. Make sure to clarify with the designer whether you’ll be reasonable for getting the site built or not.
While this is an extra step, there’s also a ton of front-end engineers that freelance too. You should have no problem finding one that can get your site built for a reasonable rate.
To be honest, most websites never need to go beyond a few key freelancers. Even with millions of visitors per month, they can handle it.
#5 – UI/UX Agencies — Best For Complicated Sites and Products
What if you’re building an entire product?
Or need an incredible complicated site designed that matches the need of your market perfectly?
In this case, you don’t need web design anymore. You need a UI/UX agency. You’ll get a lot more than you would from a typical web design agency:
- They’ll do customer development with your market to find the exact flows and features that your product needs.
- The site will work as a cohesive whole. Web designs think in “pages,” UI/UX experts think in “flows” and “users.”
- Every pixel on your site will convey your brand.
- You’ll get the experience and skillset from an entire team of folks that have been doing this work for decades.
If you tried to do this work yourself, you’d have to build an entire Product and Design team, easily spending millions of dollars.
Digital Telepathy is a great example, they’ve worked on products like New Relic, Quip, and Marriott.
In our opinion, standard web design companies are usually overpriced. You’re paying for a team when you really only need 1-2 good freelancers. But when you need real UI/UX work, only a team can pull that off anyway. This is when it makes sense to find the best agency out there. Then pay them whatever they want.
When Does It Make Sense to Invest In Web Design Services?
I’ve been recommending professional website themes since the early days. And most platforms like Wix, WordPress, Shopify, plus all the others have themes readily available.
Even if you want to look outside their official themes, there is usually a huge selection of third-party themes you can install in a few clicks.
Many of these themes are free, work great, and look great. Plus, most premium themes are $50 – $200.
We always start here with our projects.
And even when you start making enough to warrant a custom website, I still recommend relying on freelancers and small local agencies. Why? Because the cost is much more reasonable than using major agencies.
Consider looking for a few good freelancers or a small agency to help you out when you’re comfortable spending at least $10,000 a year on your website.
Methodology For Choosing The Best Web Design Services
With so many options, it’s difficult to choose the best web design service. However, as you compare the pros and cons of each one, it becomes easier to decide on how to best proceed.
The main thing to consider is the stage of your business and the complexity that you’ll need from your design:
- Basic sites: use a site builder that can get a great site launched with a drag-and-drop interface.
- Early stage standard sites: use a theme marketplace to find a theme that you like for the site platform you’re already using.
- Standard sites with a bit more polish: find a premium theme studio that specializes in your site platform.
- Custom sites: get a web designer to design that site you need for your business.
- Complicated sites and products: skip the web design agency, go with a great UI/UX agency instead.
After decades of building sites ourselves, we believe this criteria gives us the most value per dollar on any website.