Today we’re talking about the best way of getting yourself online. Specifically, whether to have a professional developer build your website, or to build it yourself. Before we go too far, I have to come clean. I have a pretty big bias coming into this conversation, but with that said I'm going to give out all the information as best I can so you can make the absolute best decision possible for yourself. The good, the bad, the ugly. Let's dive in.
Building Your Own Website
There are a few really great aspects to building your own website. Probably the best part about it would be the ability to update, change or build your own website instantly, on a whim or whenever you want. There may be a time when you get a new batch of information, new event or new product you want to add to your website, and you want it on there in the next few minutes. That’s very possible to do when you're in charge of your whole web presence.
Another great thing about doing your own website, is you get to make it look the way you might want it to look. One of the hardest parts about having someone else do your website, is explaining with understandable detail your vision. By doing it yourself, you don't need to explain your vision to anyone, and you can just carry out as best your abilities will allow for. Unfortunately however, when it comes to your own abilities of making a website, this is where the majority of your drawbacks are going to show through.
Your vision may be brilliant, but your understanding of code may not be. If you have mastery of the MANY web programming languages that exist today, you can make just about anything come to life. These languages are extremely complicated and can take years, or even a decade plus to master in their entirety. Unless you have that much time on your hands, or have already spent that time learning, then you're stuck with using what's called a CMS or content management system. A CMS is a program website like squarespace, wix or wordpress. The great part of these CMS websites, is they make it insanely easy for anyone to just decide they want a website one day, and then make one with no real understanding of programming language at all! The downside of using a CMS is its extremely limiting in what you can accomplish, and in most cases you're going to be stuck using predefined templates. Templates will make your website look like everyone else's, which can hurt your brand or image as your customers may see your site and think to themselves, “they've seen this all before.”
Building your website with a CMS normally only costs between 10 and 30 dollars a month. If you have the time (anywhere between a couple days and a couple weeks) to build your site, don't mind the 30 bucks and have a good vision for what you want it to look like, then maybe you should try your hand with a CMS. All of the CMS platforms are different and can create completely different looking websites, wordpress being the most versatile of them all, but also the most difficult to master. If you’re budget is tight and you have some time to kill, why not try a CMS for a couple days and then compare what your website comes out looking like with a few other websites in your business niche. With some luck, you’ll end up with a decent looking site that you can pass off as good enough to get done what you need it to do!
Hiring A Website Developer To Build Your Website
Now like I said in the beginning, I come with a bit of a bias towards this part of the conversation, because I myself am a website developer. Bias aside, being a developer has granted me a substantial amount of insight to not just building websites, but a business’s digital presence, and even the internet as a whole. With that said, I can tell you that there are some absolutely massive and incredible things that having just a competent, much less a really great website developer, can do for you and your business. Lets go ahead break down some of the best and worst parts of hiring a website developer to do you website for you.
The best part, hands down is the professionalism or overall look and feel they can give to your website and its functionality. A good webdev will have been doing this for awhile (let's hope right?) so they should have picked up a feel for what your specific industry looks like as far as your competition goes. That can manifest itself in knowing what your website needs to either standout, or include to get the right information across to the potential customer of yours. Not only will they hopefully know what your website needs to include or not include, but they will know how to actually include it.
Some widgets, programs, looks and functionality can take some knowhow in order to create or figure out how to use. So a great thing about hiring a webdev will be leaning into all that experience or education on how to either create or know where to find the web app, widget or imagery your website needs, or what you want it to have. There have been times when a customer has asked me for something incredibly complex that took a week to figure out how to do, and my web development degree really came in handy when it came time to figure out how to build it.
There are sometimes going to be laws or rules you’re going to need to know all about when implementing some certain parts to a website, like selling, trading or handling certain types of information. A few times I have seen people go on to build their own websites, and didn’t handle the information correctly which ended up in a huge fine and ultimately the end of their business. Having a webdev there with them to let them know what they were getting themselves into and how to handle it correctly, would have saved them a lot of time, headache and money.
Time spent doing your own website is a serious thing to consider. Even if you’re making a relatively simple site, we can be talking about sinking weeks into this project. If your time is valuable and needs to be spent doing the things that actually run your business, it may be worth it or even profitable overall to pass off the website build to someone else. Not only will it let you do the things you need to get back to doing, but a website developer will more than likely be able to finish the website in a shorter amount of time than if you did it yourself. Time management is a serious consideration in business today, and if you’re not strictly guarding your own time, you may be shooting yourself in the foot in one way or another. Consider what your time is worth, and make sure you spend that time wisely when deciding to either do your website yourself, or hiring someone to do it.
The biggest downfall to hiring a webdev, is the dollar cost it’s going to take. Every webdev is different, with different skills, experience, etc, etc so the amount its going to cost you ranges by a huge amount. A webdev for a single referral landing page website, can cost anywhere between a couple hundred bucks, to fifty thousand bucks. I’ve seen some websites with price sliders on them that will show you exactly why it costs so much, and they do a good job of letting you know that every stroke of their mouse will incur a cost to it, and to be frank, they’re worth it! Your website can be the thing that is generating the entirety of your companies revenue for you. Think about it, do you think Amazon.com built their website for 35 bucks on squarespace? Of course not, they spent millions of dollars building their website, and its obviously the best decision they could have made too, because they’re making their money back doing it, by a lot. If your company is going to rely on your digital presence in any way, shape or form, you should SERIOUSLY consider doing the same. You may not need to spend a million dollars to build your site, but if you sell software or products online, spend the money, and do it right. The amount of money a good web developer will make you with a good website far out weights the amount of money he/she will charge you for it initially. Being stingy on the thing your business may ultimately rely on will end up costing you tons of time and money, but hopefully we can all learn that lesson before it's too late and your company sinks from not selling any of those products because people don't trust a poorly written website.
In closing, both methods have massive pros and cons to them, so it's up to you to understand exactly what you need your website to do so you can make the right decision. If you’re having trouble making the decision, call around to a few webdev companies and get their opinion on what you need. Chances are they’ll try to sell themselves, but if you speak to enough of them you’ll get a better understanding of what they want to build for you, which may help you make the decision. Your website in 2018 is nothing to take lightly, so do the work and research and make sure you don’t end up with something that does your business more harm than good! If all else fails, you can always send us a message to help you figure out what you may need.