Building a website is something that most any computer-literate person with a bit of an eye to graphic layout can do these days. And there are amazing site-building tools out there like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace that make — if you believe their hype — the whole process a total joy! Many folks even go down the WordPress route, even though the learning curve can be steep, thinking ‘Who’s better to build my website than the person who knows my business best?!’
I am, admittedly, a very big DIY’er. I’ve been the general contractor — and the provider of much of the labour — for a house I built when I was in my 20s; I’ve handled most every home or backyard renovation project in the past 40 years; and I’d much rather plan my own holidays than employ a tour company to do it for me. In summary, I’d much rather get the satisfaction of doing the work and getting the accolades from friends and others for doing so.
In my business life, I learned early that I had to weigh most every potential DIY project I could tackle. I had to ask myself, ‘Is the time and energy being spent on this quest worth it? Am I really getting better value doing it myself when someone else could be doing it for me?’
Decisions like this were easy when it came to my professional business needs. A good accountant might save me more in taxes than they cost me. A capable lawyer might help me avoid a costly liability or mean the difference between winning and losing in court. And a creative graphics person could always make my brochures and business cards far better looking and more effective than anything I could design myself.
And that brings us to your website project and the fact that you are not going to have a professional to design and build it for you; you’re going to do it yourself!
Crafting your own website is a really good idea if:
- You can’t afford to pay for someone to make it properly for you.*
- Your website is only there to be an “online brochure.” That is, a place for you to direct potential clients to, to inform them more about your products and services and to legitimize your business.
- You can live with something that looks “cookie-cutter” and perhaps has a few rough edges.
- You want friends and family to tell you what a beautiful job you’ve done of making a website.
- You want to continue to consider your website as one of the costs of doing business (like rent and a business permit) and not think of it to be something that actually generates income.
* Some very blunt people might go so far as to state you have no business being in business if you can’t afford a proper website.
With that in mind, here’s a list of some very valid reasons of why you shouldn’t be making your own website:
As I mentioned before, perhaps you have no need to be found by people searching online using Google or Bing or Yahoo! If so, then your customer base is solely going to be built from who you direct to your website through advertising, word-of-mouth, or your business card. So, for example, if you’re a florist, people will probably never find your business through a Google search using the terms “flowers” or “florists near me.”
Getting listed high in SERPs (search engine results pages) requires SEO (search engine optimization). (Sorry about those two acronyms being in one sentence!) That is, crafting your website in a way that it is accessible to search engines and is using the proper words and terms (in the right proportions) to properly represent your website to Google et al.
Do you have the SEO knowledge to have your new website be found by searchers? If not, do you have the time to devote to learning about keywords and backlinks and how to get Google to crawl and index your website when it goes live or you add new content? Are you ready to learn why your competitors are higher in SERPs than you and then employ the same tactics that they are?
DIY website builders work with templates and offer little in the way of customization. If there’s something unique to your business or its offering, you might not be able to express it properly in a pre-fab website that lacks functionality, originality, and is not very interactive. And that template you’re using? It’s been used by hundreds or perhaps even thousands of other businesses — some of them probably in the same arena as yours! You now have a website that looks like everyone else’s — and how original is that?!
Do you really think you can learn that website-building tool and get a complete website up and running in the same (or less) amount of time as a pro? Perhaps the hours you’re spending learning that one-time significant task might be better used in growing your business and expanding your customer base.
Something you make will never look as good or function as well as what an experienced website developer will provide. First impressions count and competition in your business space, especially online, might be extremely fierce. Your website has to look and function better than those of your competitors because, these days, almost everybody checks you out online.
How is your new DIY website going to look when viewed on tablets and smartphones? Will it be easy for your visitors to use and navigate? Statistically, at least 40% of internet browser traffic these days originates from these smaller screens and that number will only continue to rise. Google automatically gives higher rankings to websites that are responsive (mobile-friendly) and visitors touring your website with a small screen will stay longer if they’re having a good UX. (Sorry. There’s another acronym: “user experience.”)
Do you know that there are ways to track each and every visitor to your website? That is, what brought them there? What pages did they view? What actions did they take?
This is all amazing and exceptionally valuable information about your website, both at the outset and into the future. Do you know how to set this up?
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
I’m not going to get long-winded about this. Suffice it to state that there are at least a dozen other really good reasons for not doing this on your own. What is boils down to is that, if you haven’t done this before, you really don’t know what you’re getting into until you’re into it. And at that point, you’re in that “in for a dime, in for a dollar” mentality where you’re experiencing what seemed so straightforward at the outset taking up more and more of your time and energy. In the end, you and your business suffer and you settle for less than you want because you just want it to be over.
Do You Still Want to Do This?
So, even after all of those reasons, do you still want to design and build your own website? If so, kudos to you for taking the initiative and devoting the time and effort to learning something new.
And please keep in mind that, if you try and the outcome isn’t as amazing as you’d hoped, you’re welcome to give me a call and discuss having a pro “pick up the ball” for you. If nothing else, I’ve learned that my best clients are those who’ve tried to do it on their own. Seems that, in the trying, they’ve learned just enough to be really good clients! That is, they’ve gained enough vision through the process to be really helpful to me in passing along their website needs and dreams that I can then fulfill for them.