In today’s digital world, having a website to support and legitimise your business is essential. In many instances, a website is often the first exposure a consumer will have to your brand and sales funnel and it’s critical that it presents well.
As is the case in every digital marketing space, the leaps and bounds made in websites and website development over the past 10 years have been vast. As a result, websites are now a very accessible tool for every business to employ as a part of their marketing mix – both in terms of price, build and ongoing maintenance.
Once the realm of IT people and tech-heads, now, with the use of DIY website builders, creating a website is very achievable for everyone – and can even be done in a day.
The question now faced by businesses when considering building a website from scratch, or refreshing or redesigning an already existing website is – should you employ a web developer/designer or can you DIY?
Let’s take a look at this dilemma.
Why and when to DIY
DIY has long been a quest of the brave, capable and intrepid – often with great rewards and occasionally with failure. Today, with all the information available to us, and the packages-made-easy – this approach to website building has never been more geared for success. The trick is to understand the limitations of taking this approach, what type of website your business requires, and where it’s at in its lifecycle to achieve DIY success.
If time is of the essence
There are a number of available website building platforms that can allow just about anybody, even those with limited digital experience and know-how, to build a website in a single day. These platforms (Wix, Shopify, Square Space, Weebly – to name a few) are intuitive and responsive and allow a user to get their website up and running quickly.
However, as with all optimum end-results – preparation undertaken before starting is the key. It’s good practice to spend some time researching which platform is best suited to your needs before jumping on-board. It also pays to have a clear understanding of what you want your site map to look like in terms of pages needed, and the words you wish to use, before you begin building.
In the olden digital days, it was expensive to produce a website. Now with the emergence of website building platforms, it has become extremely affordable. For simple websites that don’t require specialised capabilities, website builders provide a cost effective way for a business to get a pretty schmick website up and running that’s supported by a team of experts.
However, it’s important to understand that these website builders will often have an ongoing user pays fee structure, and the limitations in their design will require the purchase of additional plugs-ins to build capabilities – which also attract separate monthly subscription payments. Over time it can start to add up.
Just starting out
It’s important to understand where your business is at in its lifecycle and the capabilities your website requires. A simple business only needs a simple website and a DIY website builder is ideal in this type of scenario. As the business grows, gets bigger, and more complex in its transactions and communications, or simply now has the grunt to get more tailored to its visitor’s needs, using a web developer to build a custom website starts to make more sense.
However, if your business is not simple from the get-go, and the nature of its transactions and communications are complex, then it’s unlikely a DIY solution will do it justice.
The great thing about DIY website builders and packages is that they often come with 24/7 support. That means that help is always an email or a phone call away, and that this support is included in your subscription fees.
Additionally, websites built on website builder platforms are SEO optimised to a degree, and the software is regularly updated and serviced so it’s functioning and up to date.
The success of a website depends on more than how it looks
The other important point to note on the DIY side of the argument is that even though websites are an important and necessary marketing tool, the ultimate success of your business, and therefore your website, is about much more than how your website looks and works.
The other, and more important factor is – are you selling or providing something that the customer actually wants? If not, it doesn’t matter how well built and thought out your website is, your business will fail. With this in mind, a DIY option that is quick and less expensive to get up and running is an attractive solution to see what potential success looks like before spending lots of hours, and dollars, on a skilled developer.
The flipside – Why and when to outsource to a web designer
However – with all that said and done – there are occasions and strong arguments for outsourcing the build of your website to an expert. Just like any expert skill, web developers and web designers are worth the investment in certain circumstances. Here are some of the reasons why you would choose to tread this path.
A mature business life cycle
If you are just starting out it’s often enough to use a DIY website builder platform. However, if you have runs on the board, an engaged audience and a period of solid growth – it’s time to invest in a website developer. They will differentiate and customise your website experience and build a tool to grow faster and further.
A complex business requires a more complex solution
It’s worth considering what your business is and what type of website is required to support it. If your business has a unique sales funnel, or variations that would benefit from the ability to tailor the online experience, or other features that require a website experience that is a little more intricate than the bog-standard it can be worth investing in a website developer or designer upfront.
Long-term investment approach
Even though they are an excellent way to get started, it’s fair to say that DIY website builders are not meant to be a long-term solution or investment. Although capable, as time goes on their design and functionality limitations will become a negative factor in your businesses success.
Therefore, as time goes by and your business earns its stripes, plus you have some dollars and time to invest, it’s worth considering hiring a website designer. Often if the investment is greater, the return will be too.
When looking good and standing out becomes important
There is something to be said for having exactly what you want, looking the best you possibly can and providing a tailored-to-your-business online experience for your visitors. In doing this you become memorable and stand out from the crowd.
The digital world is only becoming more crowded, therefore, making it harder to capture attention. A customised website that is built to meet the exact needs of your customer, and therefore your business, is a smart investment in long-term success. This can only be achieved with the use of an expert who can take your unique vision and make it into an online reality.
Expert support – you pay for what you get
It’s true that web builder platforms provide a level of support, but if something really goes wrong, if you don’t understand how to fix something, or if you are trying to achieve something even just slightly out of the box, the reality is you are largely on your own.
However, if you have built your website with a web designer and/or developer and are savvy enough to continue this association, the good news is that if something breaks, if you need to change or add something, or possibly completely re-jig part of the website – you can brief this in to someone who not only knows and cares about your business and its goals, but is also able to execute or solve the problem with a relevant and specific skill set.
So, in summary, it’s very simple…
DIY when you are starting out, only require a simple solution and need to get a website up quick and cheap.
Hire a designer or developer when you are more established, have the time and resources to do it properly, and when it has become feasible to invest in being differentiated to demand a greater return on your website.
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