They make it look and sound so easy, don’t they? The ads you see on social media offering a DIY website platform for free or for a low monthly fee. They make you believe it is a fraction of the cost of a professionally built website and have you believe that building your own website is so simple, a child could do it. It’s often not until you start to actually use your site that the shortcomings of this way of creating your online presence become apparent. This post explores the world of the DIY website and provides you with 6 reasons why you should think twice before building one.
First, let’s be clear – there are plenty of people running blogs, not for profit organisations and the like, for whom a DIY site is perfect. Blogger, and those who read their work, don’t care if their site looks very similar to a host of other blogs. People who visit the websites of volunteer organisations are less likely to be deterred by a less than professional looking site and appreciate that the money the organisation saved by building its own website will be spent instead on the activities they care about. So for these people, a DIY site can be a perfect solution. But if you’re in business, relying on your website to attract and keep customers, a DIY site can be a disaster. Here’s why:
- Time: Web design is among the fastest changing elements of modern business. However bright you may be, it’s going to take you a substantial amount of time to master the necessary skills. Now a professional developer is applying his skills across their client base. By contrast, as your own web developer, you have a client base of 1! Accordingly, your business must bear the time cost alone. Properly accounted for, that makes your time extremely expensive, even if you have all the necessary skills.
- Design: it’s easy to fool ourselves that because we know what we like to see in a website, we’ll easily be able to turn the telescope around and create a compelling design at the drop of a hat. In reality, professional and qualified web developers have been through a good deal of training and more than a little trial and error, to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to create designs that speak to the client’s customer-base.
- Coding: We’ve all been irritated by sites that take ages to load or refresh – that’s bad for the site-owner’s business. Behind every web page lies a blizzard of code. It’s in every website operator’s interests to keep the code as “slim” as possible. Professional web developers have a bag of tricks for achieving this. By contrast, many of the drag-and-drop DIY platforms that look so appealing are notorious for delivering bloated code and code which is not “liked” by the search engines – a disastrous outcome for the online presence of any business.
- Search engine optimisation: a lot of people, even if they are familiar with the concept of SEO, think that it’s just about writing copy that the search engines “like”. And it’s true that optimised content is, in itself can be a persuasive reason to use a pro. However search engine optimisation goes a lot deeper than the published text. There are meta tags, image attributes and links that must be correctly constructed and applied, if a site is to succeed in its primary function – to grow your customer base and transact business with them. SEO is fast moving that depends on keeping abreast of developments that may radically affect the success of your site. Few people in other areas of business can devote the resources needed to stay current. “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client” is an old saying that has a lot of truth for the development of successful websites!
- Cross-platform compatibility and responsiveness: Most of us use just one browser to visit sites. Perhaps we just assume that all browsers work the same – but in reality this is not the case. The truth is that we need our sites to work equally well on all the browsers and on difference devices. With the rise of smart phones and tablets, it’s increasingly important that your website is “responsive” – meaning that they detect the platform being used to display them and adapt automatically to display optimally. Having a responsive website is now more important than ever with the latest Google algorithm update which you can read more about here.
- Functionality: most businesses’ sites exist not merely to advertise and inform – they are there to take orders. It’s essential that your website’s secure payment facility is set up properly, and that, should it ever break down, you have someone to call on who can fix it in short order. There is nothing worse for your business than to turn away paying customers because – they can’t pay.
OK, so that’s the downside of DIY web site building. It has to be said, though, that not all professional web developers are as – well, professional or as qualified as they might be. When choosing a website developer, make sure you find one who has proven experience in building successful sites for businesses similar to yours. Ask to see a portfolio of earlier work and make sure you see the traffic figures that show the success of the site. Choose your website designer carefully and you will be rewarded with a successful website. Go it alone, on the other hand and you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up having to redo the whole site again when your business grows and your website needs more functionality.