Websites play a pivotal role in the marketing world. They act as the hub of information for customers and business partners alike. An outdated website often does more harm than good by turning new prospects away and towards a competitor.
But websites aren’t cheap, making website builders all the more appealing. Sites like Wix and Squarespace give you the tools to create a website quickly. Still, general knowledge of website best practices is needed to utilize them fully.
Which then raises the question: “Should I build my own website or hire someone?”
What Makes a Website Professional?
The online world would be simpler if having a website, regardless of the quality, was enough. Unfortunately, consumer expectations have significantly grown since the start of the decade, and best practices continue to be essential for visibility.
A professional website will consider these, including implementing search engine optimisation (SEO) practices.
A professional should include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Intuitive & easy to follow navigation
- Clear contact information throughout the website
- High quality, none pixelated images
- A clear customer journey
- Clear, to the point content that is for the user
- Accurate & up-to-date sales copy
- Mobile responsive
- Branding on point with the business
- SEO optimised
- Cookies policy if used
A professional website contains everything a prospect may need to make a purchasing decision and frame your business as the right option. The requirements needed on your website will drastically depend on the type of business you’re operating and whether you need to push products, services, learning material or others.
What Is Needed to Build a Website Yourself?
Building a website yourself can be a rewarding experience, especially if you’re someone that enjoys getting stuck in and getting pieces in place immediately. Below are some elements to building your own site to take into consideration.
A common shortcoming we see with business owners that undertake their own website is they aren’t aware of what is truly required of them when they begin. While more accessible and less complex, website builders still need good knowledge to use effectively.
Researching Your Industry
Business owners are expected to know a considerable amount about their industry, but what about the various competitor websites?
Researching these websites and looking at what functionality is present will give you a good idea of what needs to be on yours to compete. Similarly, seeing what they don’t do quite as well gives you an opening to make your website more effective and user friendly.
Time Spent Building the Website
Building a website takes time.
If you want your website up and running ASAP, having the available time set aside to work on it each day is essential. Remember that this time investment also needs to account for understanding the platform you’re using, understanding the tools and, once built, doing final QA checks and mobile responsive changes.
How quickly you overcome this learning curve is entirely subjective, but giving yourself more time will allow you to make sure you’re completing each task on your list to the level of professionalism you require.
Creating Work-Arounds With Available Budget
Website builders often have features locked behind premium paywalls.
While expected due to the “free to use” nature, it can be inconvenient when the core functionality you need isn’t available. Once encountered, you have two options:
- Pay for the premium feature, which will require a monthly subscription for the life span of your website
- Look for a workaround or compromise
A monthly subscription is the quicker option of the two but would require you to set aside an additional budget to account for new website functionality. For those unable to extend the budget, other workarounds will be available but will likely require you to forgo some functionality or appearance of your website.
Being flexible when creating your own website is paramount, or else your website will undergo so many new design iterations that will eat up your time.
Consistent Site Maintenance
If any problems arise with your website, domain or hosting, you need to be on hand to resolve these issues. Without consistent maintenance, your website may be broken without you realising.
It is not uncommon for a web owner to not know they have broken links or their website isn’t loading.
Even if you don’t need your website yourself on a day to day basis, making sure that you are regularly checking for errors – and know how to fix them – keeps your website functioning as needed.
Pro’s of a DIY Approach
The obvious main pro to building your website yourself is budget flexibility. By not spending money on hiring a developer, you enable yourself to spend more on additional functionality through the website builder you decide to use.
If you don’t have a budget to work with, a website builder allows you to get a website online without a high upfront cost.
Similarly, as no one else is involved in the project, you can take your time. Other than your own deadlines, there is no requirement to get content completed or the site built. A DIY approach gives you complete control over the process.
Con’s of a DIY Approach
There will be a steep learning curve when building your own site, especially if you want to create something unique that sets you apart from your competition. If you don’t have the desire or willingness to learn the best practices, building your website will be a long and arduous process.
Aside from know-how, general time spent on building the website could be put to better use within your business. Spending that last 2 hours on lead generation instead may have an enormous impact on your bottom line.
Finally, any issue you encounter are your issues, be it with the website itself or a hosting problem. Typically, website developers won’t mind helping out with smaller pieces here and there that arise after the site has been built. Many also include a maintenance fee that you can pay each month to ensure the website remains in its best condition.
However, without that, you run the risk of encountering a problem you’re unable to solve yourself. Thus, a solution will take time to resolve through support channels or a hearty fee from a new developer.
What Is Needed When Hiring a Web Developer?
While you may miss out on the rewarding feeling of building a website yourself, you’ll get the same feel from seeing a unique crafted website that casts a shadow on your competition.
Despite handing your site over to an external developer, you will still need a hand in the process. Most of the information that goes onto the website will need to be crafted by you or a copywriter. Depending on the developers, this may or may not be included with the price of the website.
An Understanding of Your Business and Mission
Having a core understanding of what your business is, who your target audience is, and your overarching mission helps create the website. More often than not, this information will be required before the project begins, ensuring that the developers can create something on-brand from the get-go.
Delivering Content Cues and Information
Having content cues at the ready for a website copywriter is necessary when planning out the design of specific pages. The copywriter will get a good idea of how much content is needed, allowing the developer to plan each block around that content.
This can be done differently depending on the agreed-upon design, but regardless, content cues will be needed for a copywriter to create new, targeted content for your site. Content cues are an outline of what is required and where. Depending on your business, foundational content may need to be written – such as project information, client information and so on. This is because the copywriter can’t know this without your input.
Images, videos and other graphics will also need to be supplied by yourself unless stock imagery has been agreed upon.
Design & Update Calls
Expect to be required for multiple calls throughout the process. This ensures the development team is on track, the site aligns with your vision, and the project meets its deadlines.
Depending on the process, you may be required to sign off relevant pages before the development team continues the rest of the website. The development team then have a clear and concise agreement that what they have done can be the foundation for the remaining pages.
Pro’s of Hiring a Web Development Firm or Agency
The main, more obvious pro is that there is considerably less involvement and requirements from yourself. Instead, these responsibilities are placed on the developer to complete what you paid them for. This allows you to continue to run your business with the confidence that time spent isn’t missed or misplaced.
Hiring a development team almost guarantees a professional, unique website that sets you apart from your competitors. The website will be leagues ahead of those that use templated sites and include all the functionality you need without compromise.
Finally, you have developers you’re acquainted with to work on the website and handle any maintenance you need in the future. Having a developer who understands how the website has been built pays dividends when updates are required, as they know precisely how to execute them.
Con’s of Hiring a Web Development Firm or Agency
When considering the cons of hiring a web developer, two things come to mind. The first is the price, of course. Paying for a professional website isn’t cheap, but the purpose of doing so is to build a website that pays for itself with new business and is future proof.
However, paying the considerable fees some website developers charge may not be an option.
Secondly, finding a reliable website developer is often one of the most challenging stages of this process. Many developers undercut one another to land clients then underdeliver. Many make promises they cannot keep and so on.
Finding a great web developer will require you to sift through their portfolio and see if they have a track record of delivering high-quality websites. Additionally, you may lose total control over the website as developers often provide limited code access. This is positive from a development standpoint, as it prevents you or an unsuspecting team member from accidentally altering the code and breaking the website.
Yet, that is another factor to consider.
Additional Things to Consider When Deciding on DIY or Not
There are a few other considerations to look through before making a decision that is right for you. By now, you should have a good idea of which option you want to choose; however, the below may be able to tip the scales in a different direction.
What Is Your Available Budget?
Budget is often the first element in question when discussing a new website, and for a good reason. Knowing your budget allows you to make one distinct decision:
- Am I able to hire a GOOD web developer?
Many developers will offer to build you a website for the same price as hosting your website for a few years; the difference is that they will find all the shortcuts they can use, add templated elements and designs and may not fulfil what you paid for.
Hiring a developer to alter a templated site can be an option, but generally speaking, you’d want a bespoke website built from the ground up. Suppose that’s the case, then the last thing you want to do is go for the cheaper option.
Website developers & agencies that know what they’re doing charge what they know they’re worth. This often comes with the following:
- A dedicated design team/specialist
- A dedicated copywriting team/specialist
- A dedicated SEO team/specialist
- A dedicated Project manager
- Maintenance + QA checks
- Assistance with hosting, domains and other site elements
A good solo developer will likely outsource the above to their trusted network of contacts, ensuring you have all bases covered.
How Crucial Is Your Website to Your Income or Business?
A new website is something to get excited about, but to what level is your website necessary for your business?
Websites need a purpose, and having one for the sake of it rarely pays off in the long run. Identifying why you need a new website will help frame what is required before getting too deep into the process.
If most of your business comes from website leads, that speaks for itself. A new website will only be more beneficial and advantageous to your positioning within your industry.
However, if your business comes from word of mouth or internal lead generation, ask if an upgrade is needed.
Are You Interested in Web Development and Want to Learn?
A core component of the DIY option to building a website is overcoming the learning curve needed and understanding web design best practices. Both of which become difficult if there is no desire to learn about them in the first place.
Overlooking this and forgoing learning will negatively impact your website and produce an underwhelming result that prospects may not want to use. Similarly, doing so will also put you at a disadvantage to your competition.
Hiring will be the better option if you don’t desire to learn these skills but have the budget for a new website.
What Time Do You Have Available?
It goes without saying that if time is a constraint at the moment, building a website yourself may not be the best course of action. Websites can take from 1 – 6 months on average for a whole team to fully complete and go live.
While a DIY website is often much smaller in scope, time taken learning and implementing each element quickly adds up.
If, however, you do have the time available but not the budget, then a DIY option would be the go-to option for now.
What Do Your Competitors Look Like?
One primary consideration that often goes overlooked is analysing your competitors’ websites. Their websites will give you a firm understanding of your positioning within the industry. This is especially important if your business competes locally, as you can be assured that if a prospect leaves one site, they’ll move to the other.
If your competition has bespoke websites that speak volumes about their brand and mission, doing the same may be the way to compete. Websites help create a perception of your brand and business ethos.
It is not unfathomable to think that many users may think your business is inactive if the website isn’t up to date. Similarly, many may think you care less about your online marketing than a competitor if your website doesn’t shine.
Again, this depends significantly on your business and USP. Local shops are unlikely to face this problem, but this could be make or break for an online service-based business.
Build Your Website Yourself, or Hire a Developer?
With this information, you should have a good idea of what option best suits your current position, goals and business.
Remember that a DIY website doesn’t need to be the only website you ever have. A DIY site can be the best option as a temporary upgrade or first website. By spending a bit of time creating, you can have something that serves its purpose and acts as a stepping stone to generate more revenue.
Once you have that revenue, you can hire a web developer to create a website that will help scale your business tenfold.
Looking for a Cost-Effective Website?
If you’re looking to bring a brand new website online with confidence, then get in touch. We keep your project on track with a dedicated project manager. At the same time, our team ensures your audience knows exactly what you do and your mission and make impactful decisions on your website with our bespoke designs.