The Options – Do It Yourself (DIY) or Hire a Professional
There are an ever-increasing number of tools and platforms that allow you to build your business website yourself, without any professional help. Some of the most popular ones include Wix and Squarespace. In addition, many hosting providers such as 1&1, GoDaddy and 123-Reg also offer their own website builders.
The alternative option is to hire a professional company to design and build your website. In your local area there are likely to be tens of different companies who offer this service – some small, some large.
DIY Website Builders – How Do They Work?
With a DIY website builder, you would firstly need to select which website builder tool is best for you. There are many options, with differing prices, features, advantages and disadvantages. Once you’ve chosen one, you would then typically sign up (typically having to give your credit card details at that stage), choose a template, customise elements as required, add content (text & images) and publish the site. Depending on the complexity of your site, you could have a website up and running within hours.
Working with a Professional – What’s the Process?
When working with a professional company, the first stage is to consider what kind of website you want. You would then need to select a company – you may potentially talk to a few different companies, discuss your requirements and they would provide a cost. You would then choose which company you wish to go with and there would typically be a face-to-face meeting to discuss your website in more detail. The web design company would then normally produce some designs, which you would sign-off. Next, the website would be built and you would need to supply copy and images. The company would then add these to your site and you would have a chance to approve everything before it is made live. Depending on the complexity of your site, the whole web design and build process would typically take between 2 weeks and 2 months before the website is live.
DIY Website Build – Pros
The biggest benefit of DIY website builders is cost – you don’t need to pay a professional anything. The website builder are sometimes even free (typically with adverts and restricted features), whilst others have relatively low monthly fees. Professional web designers cost more, sometimes a lot more if you chose a larger high-end company.
Another advantage is the time to create a site. For a simple site, you really could have it up and running within a few hours of signing up to the website builder. With a professional web design company, it would be weeks or more often months before your website is live.
DIY Website Build – Cons
With a website builder although many offer 100s of templates, these will provide less flexibility than a professional built bespoke site. The off-the-shelf website builders do sometimes allow customisation, but this is often complex and requires knowledge of HTML and CSS.
A secondary disadvantage is a site you build yourself with a DIY website builder is unlikely to be as optimised as a professionally built site. This includes search engines optimisation (DIY are likely to rank lower), performance (they would typically be slower) and usability (DIY built site may not be as intuitive to use). The net result is fewer visitors and fewer enquiries / orders.
Another negative is support. The DIY tools often offer online only support and sometimes this is very limited with slow responses. A professional company would usually offer both email and phone support and typically respond quickly.
Although the DIY providers offer a number of services, you may well find they don’t offer everything you need, whereas many professional companies do. So, if for example you needed a low-cost email service, not all DIY providers offer this. Or perhaps you want some business cards created – most professional companies would offer this, whereas with the DIY approach you would have to go elsewhere.
Another disadvantage is that you are likely to be locked into the provider for hosting. This restricts you moving to something else in the future and if the provider’s hosting has reliability issues, there is no easy solution. In addition, most of the DIY tools do not offer backups, so in the event you wanted to restore a previous version of your website, you may not be able to.
A final issue related to the previous point is that a DIY built website is unlikely to scale well. So, if your business really takes off and the traffic to your site increases, the DIY option may not cope. You may also find you need certain features which are not available. The most common solution would then be to get a professional involved – to look at optimising and customising what you have, or most likely to re-design and re-build.
Summary – Which Is best?
In summary, the DIY approach is good if you have a very limited budget and want to get a basic online presence. After a period of time, assuming your business is a success, you are likely to require the services of a professional web design company. If you have budget from day one (which we would highly recommend you include in your business plan), then using a professional can accelerate your business growth. A key advantage is that you spend time focussing on developing and selling the products or services your business offers, not learning about web design and build. The site they would build would be professional and perform better than DIY solutions.
If you have an existing business with a DIY built site or are thinking of getting a website for a new business, please do contact us. We offer discounts to start-ups and have a lot of experience in helping to build their online presence and ensuring their website helps drive enquiries and sales.