Building a website is not as easy as some people suspect. Depending on its complexity and the goals you’re trying to reach, it can oftentimes be a very daunting challenge. Still, many try to handle this on their own while still taking on whatever role the website intended to help with (e.g. selling to and locating more customers). So the question remains: should you build your own website?
Coming from a web designer, it’s natural that I may have a bit of a bias to that question. I build websites for small businesses, organizations, musicians, and others so why would I want to tell you to go out and build your own website? Well, the answer to that is pretty simple. I want you, as a potential client or not, to do what is best for your business or organization. If it’s best for you to do your own site, than that is what you should do. I do want to leave you with a few things to consider when traveling down this path.
Why would you build your own website?
Most people want to build their own website to cut costs. It’s that simple, and it makes sense. Honestly, if you have the resources and the know how to build your own website, I say to go for it. If it’s going to cut your costs and not eat into the time you could be spending on your business, then it’s not a bad idea to cut this corner. The trouble is that many small business owners would be better off using the time to focus on their business, so it would be more beneficial to put it in someone else’s hands.
Cutting costs is a primary goal of any business. The less money you need to spend, the more money you have. A website can cost a lot of money for some businesses, ranging hundreds to thousands of dollars and more. Because of that, a small business owner may opt to do the work on their own. If you know what you’re doing, this makes sense and could be valuable to your cash flow.
Saving money can cost you valuable time
While it’s true that doing the work on your own can save you money, it doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything. Any time away from your business is time that can be spent working on your business. While your website is part of your business, it’s something that can be handled by someone else who is more qualified and able to deal with it.
Think about how long it takes to build your own website. Recently I did a complete redesign of a website. It was a simple design but it took a while to conceive. After working out various drafts, I finally came up with a concept that fit and worked out perfectly. I was able to use a lot of the existing content but also had to work on much more. I also had to write the HTML and CSS code for the website. This takes hours, sometimes longer.
Also, keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for some time and know what I’m doing. For someone who doesn’t, the amount of time spent to meet a similar result may be more than they could afford to spend. For a small business owner, all the time spent working on this site could have been put into a current or new marketing strategy, number crunching, or simply reaching out to find new customers. Time is something that a small business owner never seems to have enough of, so it’s a good idea to spend it in the most effective way possible.
There is a lot more than meets the eye
Many people see a website as a purely visual thing. They think that the design is something you can create quickly, requires very little to achieve and is going to win the hearts of everyone who visits. That is very far from the truth.
Designing a website can take hours, days or even weeks. It really depends on the website needs. A designer doesn’t just sit down and bang out a great design immediately. It takes time to work out the elements of a design based on its needs, and because of that you will often go through various concepts before you have the final product.
The code of a website needs to be constructed properly. Drag and drop editors can throw inefficient and sometimes needless code into the work, so hand coding is standard practice for web designers. It gives as much more control over the code, and allows you to make it as powerful and effective as possible. No fluff, no mess.
When the code is done properly, you also have less issues with other web browsers. Someone on a Mac using Safari would be able to see the site the same as someone using Firefox on Linux, or Internet Explorer on Windows 7. With less possibility of something looking strange on other browsers, you have a better chance of holding the attention of a wider audience.
To get people to your website, you need to optimize your code for search engines like Google and Bing. This means working on a variety of on page content, including links, meta tags, image attributes, and written content. Search engines, and the people using them to find your website, will need to be able to decide if your content is what they want from a search term. Because of that, SEO work is a crucial part when you build your own website.
Build Your own Website or Hire a Web Designer?
For many people, the answer to this question is clear. If you don’t know how or don’t have the time to put into it, building a website is better left to someone who knows what they are doing. As a web designer, I should be telling you not to try to build your own website. A contractor wouldn’t tell you to attempt to build your own house.
If you want to build your own website, make sure you know what you’re going to get yourself into. Sometimes, it can be very simple. Drag and drop editors allow people to knock out a website in a few hours. However, they have a lot of limitations and issues working against them. Most of them use very dated looking templates which result in a terrible design for your website. To make it worse, it’s an inventory that the rest of their customers pull from so your website is simply a clone of countless others. This can be damaging to your reputation, especially if competitors are using the same host and design pool.
If you’re going to build your own website, make sure you do it right. If you have the knowledge, or at least the time to learn, than doing it yourself may be the answer. However, it may be worth the time, money and hair you would have pulled out to hire a web designer instead. Let us deal with the headaches so you don’t have to.