You need a new website. You’ve seen the T.V. commercials and the advertisements on various webpages: “Do It Yourself Web Design”, “Build Your Own Website.” You’re thinking: “I’m a small business and I need to keep my expenses down. I’m smart. I was good in math. I can figure things out. I’ll make my own website, save money, and have it looking just how I want. Sweet!”
I understand where you’re coming from, but before you get all excited (“This will be great!”), let me share a few thoughts with you…a reality check, if you will.
I offer you these questions before you decide to do it yourself:
- Do you have time?
- Do you have the skills?
- Do you have someone in your employ with the skills?
- Can you afford to make this their full-time assignment?
- Do you know where to start?
- Do you know how to optimize for search engines?
- Do you know how to effectively edit images for the web?
- Will you know how to set up web hosting and register a domain name?
Advantages to Using a Professional
Just as you probably take your car in to the service department for an oil change, or hire a contractor to remodel your kitchen, or pay a carpet cleaner to clean your carpets, there are good reasons to hire a web professional to create your website: you don’t have the experience, skills or tools, or there are better ways to use your time.
For a web developer, this IS their full-time job. They will obviously have the skills and can probably get it all done with more functionality, more optimization, and more pizzaz in less time than it takes you to learn a DIY application.
A good web professional will also implement a user-friendly design, assist with content, embed search engine optimization best practices, and “socialize” your website. They may even provide a mobile-friendly version of your site.
Save $$ With a Professional
You can save time and money and still use a professional by doing some preparation yourself:
- Have goals for website
- Be clear about what you want, but be open to suggestions and new ideas
- Sketch a design
- Provide photos and images, logo graphics, colors
- Provide something to match, e.g., your business card
- Write your own content
- If you can’t afford everything at once, prioritize; implement the website in phases
- Contact more than one developer
- Compare quotes
- View their previous work
- Get feedback from their clients if possible
- Understand the breadth of services included in the quote
- Ask questions if you’re unsure about anything
If You Still Want to Do It Yourself
There are good reasons to consider doing a website yourself:
- You have good design skills and some experience.
- You are technically savvy and confident you can do a good job.
- You do not have a budget to spend on hiring a professional.
- You have knowledge of tools that can help you build a website.
- You have access to an expert that can guide you.
(– from New Zealand Directory of Website Design and Development Professionals)
Note: One of these reasons is not enough. You should be able to answer “yes” to at least 3 of the 5 statements.
Tips for Doing It Yourself
Whether you do have some aptitude for this kind of technical stuff, or you’ve always wanted to learn how to build a website, or you really don’t have the funds to pay someone to do it, here are some tips to get started.
- Search for an online do-it-yourself application: find one that also hosts your website and helps with your domain name. (Free sites will likely place some amount of advertising on your website; pay an affordable monthly or yearly fee to get rid of these.)
- Make an outline of your website: the number of pages and what is on those pages.
- Think about colors: match your business card and other marketing materials.
- Don’t forget to insert your logo and anything else that identifies with you and your company.
- Patience and persistence: allow yourself a sizeable block of uninterrupted time.
“A good design, encompassing SEO, ease of navigation, on-site search, ease of shopping, credit card processing, cross-selling/up-selling, updating content easily, and general usability, will help retain visitors and increase sales…
“Good design runs a lot deeper than making a pretty image.”
Have you developed your own website? What tools did you use? Would you do it again? Please share your comments below.