It’s a question that at one time or another we’ve all asked ourselves. Should I go with a DIY website (“they make it look really easy on the demos”) or should I bite the bullet and hire a professional web designer?
There are pros and cons to each approach. The first website I ever built was a DIY website for a children’s clothing line I was setting up. I had time and some skills and not much budget so I chose that option.
Online shopping in 2010 was not a big thing and there certainly weren’t the options available there are today – there was no WIX, Weebly, Squarespace or Shopify. WordPress was around in its infancy. The diversity of themes, plugins or vast array of support options were not available then.
So a lot of that first website had to be coded from scratch …. it took a while and I learnt a lot! (I learnt that I like building websites more than selling children’s clothing too.)
Advantages of DIY websites
A DIY website can be a great option if you want a solution which is cheap to get started with and you have the time and patience to put towards learning how it works. As a start up you may have plenty of time and not much cash so this can be a good starter option. You do need some technical skills and you will need a bit of patience too as you go through the learning curve.
A DIY option is not free, but it can be achieved with little upfront investment.
With the subscription type DIY websites such as WIX, Weebly, Squarespace and Shopify you pay a monthly fee depending on which options you choose, the size of your site (and how much space it needs to store all the files) and the amount of traffic you generate.
Over a number of years the monthly fee may well add up to more than you would pay if you were to hire someone to build you a stand-alone website, but in the beginning, the cash flow advantage can be worth considering.
Quick to Get Online
With some options you only need to enter a few details and you can have your site up in a matter of hours. This can be advantageous if you are keen to get on with your business and have a clear idea about what you want your website to look like.
Most DIY website options are user-friendly and will have some level of online support documentation available on line. If you are good at reading the instructions and converting that to action, with some web awareness, you should be able to convert those instructions into a real website.
As with any DIY website builder, there are groups on social media that you can tap into to get more specific support for your queries or issues.
Some Disadvantages of DIY:
You will be limited to how much you can design and change on your website. Your DIY website will be limited to the different templates that the various platforms offer, so you may end up with a website that looks like someone else’s. This may or may not be an issue, depending on your branding and business goals.
Limits to Functionality
What you can do with your website will also be limited. With some DIY website platforms the more functionality you want, the more you pay.
For example, if you want email forms, contact forms, links to your mailing system (such as MailChimp or MailerLite), or an online store you will pay for each of these additional features.
These can add up over time and you can end up with a hefty monthly bill for your website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is how you get found in the big wide internet world. Most DIY platforms cannot provide tailored SEO and have trouble ranking their sites with the big search engines like Google.
This just means you will have to do more work, more DIY advertising and promotions to get your site found. You will need to direct people straight to your site, rather than relying on them to find it through Google.
Hiring a Professional ...
If you decide that you don’t have the tech-savviness, the patience or the time to learn how to build your own website you can hire a professional web designer/developer.
Professional web designers have done this before – probably hundreds of times and they know what to do and will be much faster at building a site than you will be as a beginner.
They also bring a range of experiences of what other businesses are doing and this knowledge can give you the edge in a busy, crowded market place.
Professional designers also have processes for collaborating with you and will take you through the design process in a structured, stepped, logical way.
Customer Centric Design
Professional web designers know how to put your customer at the centre of your web design and will build a site that enhances their experience and helps them move from “looker” to “booker”. They will know the web design standards that browsers expect, build you a site that enhances your branding and creates a feel-good experience for your prospects and customers.
Less Hassle, More Time
The best part about hiring a professional web designer is that it frees you up to think strategically about your business, concentrate on your start up or your business growth and provide outstanding customer experience as you do.
Learning how to run or grow a business itself can be daunting, but throw some coding or finding time to figure out how domain names, hosting, upgrades and plugins factor in may well cause you more stress than you need.
Industry Knowledge of Current Standards and Trends
A professional designer will also know what is currently trending in terms of design, layout and copy writing. It is their job to keep up with professional standards and practices.
If your website needs to be accessible by people with a range of abilities, your designer will know how to ensure they can access your information.
You will get all this knowledge too when you hire a professional to do the job.
You will also end up with a bespoke design, created specifically for your brand, your target audience and your products or services. It will be unique to your business and designed to make your business stand out from your competitors.
Hiring a professional designer requires an upfront investment together with ongoing hosting and webcare costs to keep your site safe and secure. If budget is a concern, consider building your website in stages as your business grows:
A custom mobile-friendly “brochure” site with 2-3 pages can be a more cost effective solution to begin with.
If your site requires complex functionality such as ecommerce (an online store) or feeds to and from other sites (such as social media, advanced search options or event ticketing) then you will need to invest more to get these more advanced features. These can be added on after your initial site is built, so you could budget for these to occur once your business is up and running.
The downside ...
In fairness I should let you know…
Hiring a designer means it is likely to take longer to get your website live. Most designers work with multiple clients at once and their processes will include making sure your SEO is working, your click throughs and links go to the right places, and that your site works equally well on a mobile device, tablet or desktop.
A designer will ask you to have all your copy and photos ready before they start, you won’t be able to search these out as you go, which you can do if you choose the DIY option.
Your investment will likely be loaded upfront rather than across the life of your website – this can be advantageous or not, depending on your business situation.
Once you have signed off, you are locked in for the next stage (design, build, testing, go live), so make sure you have time and space to review their work as and when they need it.
If you are considering what to do about your business website, or think it is time for a refresh of your existing website, then get in touch for a free 60-minute discovery session where we will review your current online presence (website, social media etc) and provide ideas for how it can be improved.
Found a spelling or grammatical error in this post? Then contact me as soon as possible and let me know. In return for your super proof reading, I will offer you a free 30-minute review of your digital presence and some fresh ideas you can try out for free.
Get in Touch
If you’d like to learn more about how a professional web designer can help your business grow, improve their online presence or take the hassle out of even getting on-line in the first please, then book a free Discovery Session using the big orange button right here (see how easy I made that for you?).
If you want to know what to ask when you are on the call, read my guidelines here about how to find a great web designer to partner with your business (yes I consider it a partnership – not just a transaction!).
Digital Marketing | Online Marketing | Web Designer | Website Devleoper | Victor Harbor | Willunga | McLaren Vale