You’re a small business owner. You know you’ve got to have a website. But how do you go about creating the site — go the do-it-yourself route, or hire a professional?
As a developer of small business websites, you might expect me to rant and rail against DIY sites. But I won’t. For everything there is a season, and there is a time and a place where a DIY site is the right answer for a small business.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of DIY site builders:
Time: DIY site builders are quick(ish). Using DIY site templates, you can create a web presence in only a few hours.
Cost: A professionally designed site can cost anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. DIY sites are available for a low monthly fee, and are often included at no additional charge with web hosting packages. It’s hard to beat almost free.
Ease of use: Many of these DIY site builders require no web design skills or coding experience, which makes things relatively simple for those who are not technically inclined.
Buy-in: Nothing develops interest in a project like doing it yourself. Using a DIY site builder will help build familiarity with the workings of the site, which is likely to keep you interested in updating and maintaining the site as time goes on.
Questionable visual appeal: For the most part, sites built using DIY builders look like someone stuck a logo on a template — because that’s what they did. Template sites look like template sites, and there’s no getting around it.
Harder than it looks: Rarely is anything as simple as we think it’s going to be. This goes double for people without web skills who want to build a website. Even the simplest sites can be difficult to create for someone with limited skills and knowledge. Yes, it can be done, but the results can be iffy, at best.
Time and effort: You’re a small business owner who has to attend to every aspect of your business. Do you really have the time to build a website, too? While you can have a website tonight, that doesn’t mean the site you build will be a good site that meets the needs of your business.
Limited upgrading options: We once had a client who was unhappy with the look and feel of her DIY website, and wanted to give it a makeover — using the same templates and content management system. All we could do was use the site builder’s interface, which severely limited our options. Stylesheets were unavailable. FTP was not an option. I won’t say it was a nightmare, but it was close. There is only so much even a professional can do to put a shine on these sites.
So, looking at these pros and cons, when is a DIY site a good idea for a small business? Here are a few instances when a DIY site makes sense:
You are just starting out: It is an ugly fact of life that new businesses fail all the time. If you are not yet established, and you’re not certain if the business will last six months, a DIY site can be an affordable way to get SOMETHING out on the web — and even a crappy website is better than no website at all. If things go south for the business, you won’t be out a whole lot of money for your site.
Your business is likely to change: What happens when the business you started isn’t the business you ended up with? If you are unsure of your business direction, not to mention your branding, you might want a DIY site.
You can’t afford to make an investment in a website: This is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re broke, a DIY site is the way to go.
You’ve got time and ability: If you are computer savvy and have the time and interest to build your own website, then by all means, go to it! You know your business better than anyone else. You might end up saving some money, too.
On the other hand, you should call the professionals in these cases:
You’re not computer literate: DIY site builders make it seem as if building a beautiful website is as easy as falling off a log. It’s not. If you’re not handy with a computer already and don’t know what you are doing, you’ll end up with a lot of frustration and a site that makes you unhappy.
You have an established business: If you’ve been around a while and know your customers and how to market to them, call a design professional to create a site that reflects your business and meets the needs of your customers.
A template site just isn’t enough: Template sites can be limiting. A professional web developer can create a site that meets all of your web presence needs.
Your company is moving to the next level: Your business is booming, you’re expanding into new digs, and your customers love you — that’s the time to start upping your branding and marketing. Get in touch with a pro who can help take your site to the next level as well.
In short, my personal opinion is that hiring a pro is a better decision for most small businesses when it comes to building their website. You’ll get a custom-designed site that works for your business, and avoid a bunch of headaches in the process. But if you are bound and determined to do a DIY site, I recommend checking out the sites and templates available at wordpress.com, if for no other reason than the platform. On the other hand, if you are considering a small business website, Deluxe Interactive Services would love the opportunity show you how we can develop a WordPress-based custom site for you. Contact us for a free quote today!