On the surface it certainly looks easy enough. Find an all in one solution (domain, hosting, builder) available on the internet, write some text and throw in a few pictures and voila, you have a website. How hard can that be?
But the answer to your website conundrum may not be black & white. So let me ask. How much time do you have to devote to this? And how comfortable are you with new technology?
Let’s begin by looking at some of the pros and cons of building your own website using DIY software –
- Save Money – Usually the number one motivator. A successful DIY website can save you thousands of dollars.
- Templates Can Make Basic Sites Simple – Often you don’t require any special knowledge about web design or web programming. These website builders give you numerous web templates to choose from, and often recommend particular templates based on your category. Most require no technical knowledge at all and often employ a “drag and drop” builder and simple page editors that help you to easily add various elements needed on your site.
- Flexibility – You can make it exactly the way you want, and change the look of it whenever you need to without additional cost. And you can update site content as needed
- Learn a Valuable Skill – Tackling a DIY site becomes an educational experience. How far you expand your knowledge base is up to you.
- Sense of Accomplishment – You know the feeling you get when accomplishing something new – that sense of accomplishment in creating an effective and attractive website on your own.
- You Know Your Business Best – Who knows your business better than you. DIY saves you trying to explain your vision to a complete stranger. Then again perhaps this should also be in the Con category – doctors make the worst patients.
- Can Be Time Consuming – No surprise. It all comes back to time & money. Never enough of both. Gaining the knowledge and learning the new skills required to create a strong user experience website can take a significant amount of time. You must ask yourself if that time is better spent focusing your attention on your business instead? It’s all about ROI.
- Lacks a Cohesive User Experience- As Marketers, the one thing that we continually stress to our clients is that a website is an important business tool, and should be integrated as such into the overall business strategy. Therefore it is important to map out a design and functionality for your individualized site that will integrate with your marketing strategy, support your brand and (most importantly) provide a comprehensive user experience – something that can be lacking in ‘plug & play’ sites designed as a ‘one size fits all’.
- May Look Unprofessional -Sometime a DIY project looks like a DIY project and can lack the professionalism that customers are use to. Appearance does matter and plays a significant role in the impression you give of your business. A sloppy or uninspired website could define your work in the mind of a potential customer.
- Lacks Flexibility & Originality– Sometimes “one-size-does-not-fit-all”. Free templates can be visually appealing but you can be sure that other individuals and organizations will be using that template as well. An effective website reflects the uniqueness of your business and is designed to appeal to your customer. While there are many great additional features offered with most DIY builders, you still may not have the flexibility to customize your site as much as you would like.
- Can Lock You In – Most DIY builders are proprietary. You can use them as long as you continue to use their hosting service. If you require a change later your site will have to be rebuilt using a new DIY builder. This can be avoided by using an open source DIY builder and hosting it yourself. The most popular of these is WordPress.
The best advice I can give is to weigh your options and make an educated decision. Only you can answer the question – should I or shouldn’t I?. But also keep in mind there are different degrees of DIY. Because you can build it doesn’t necessarily mean you should build it. DIY builders can make ongoing content management easy and cost effective. My suggestion to those who want to enter the world of DIY websites is to hire a professional to get your started with the design, SEO, and build out. Once you have a solid design and a strong website architecture in place, manage it yourself with a CMS and be autonomous. The best of both DIY worlds.
If you would however, like to tackle a website project yourself, then my advice is – keep it simple. You should probably avoid self hosted solutions like WordPress until you get some basic training. There are a number of good (getting better everyday) hosted solutions that offer you a turnkey solution in a pre packaged format.