A fellow business owner who simply wants to help you become more successful.
As a business owner myself, I understand your frustration: being torn between paying over $3,000 for a ready-to-launch website with all the bells and whistles or trying web design and development yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Of course, the latter sounds alluring. Some of you might think that trying DIY website design and development will help you grow as it pushes you to learn something new. DIY websites usually cost around $4 a month. But here's the problem, are you trying to become a web developer, or are you trying to grow your business?
When Is DIY Website Development a Good Idea
If you want to learn something new, then – by all means – give it a try! Start with WordPress.com and see that it's not that complicated. It's fun, a bit challenging, and makes you feel like you're capable of actually building something great.
DIY website design and development is perfect for:
- IT students
- People interested in blogging
- Anyone with too much free time
On the other hand, if you're here to increase your sales and put your business online, trying web design and development on your own with any site builder is a recipe for disaster. And I'm going to prove that here.
Why trust me? I've done it before; I've had clients who've done it before, and I have colleagues in the marketing industry dealing with clients who've done it before too. Wordy, I know. I just want to emphasize that you're not the only person who thinks building a website alone will positively impact your business.
DIY Website Design and Development: Four Reasons It'll Harm Your Business
Before I continue, let me clarify that this article isn't for you if you're a web developer, a computer nerd who knows how to code, or an IT freelancer. I'm writing to help small and medium-sized business owners, e.g., salon owners, restaurateurs, home services owners, etc. For entrepreneurs who don't know how or where to purchase a domain name, this article will help you decide if DIY website design and development is worth trying.
1. Wrong Priority
Foremost, do-it-yourself web design and development requires many skills to pull off. There's the need for technical knowledge – where to start (the process), platforms, tools, builders, hosts, etc.
Another thing is creativity and an eye for aesthetics.
When digital marketing agencies offer web design and development services, it starts with a wireframe – a layout of sections for your website. There's nothing technical at this stage (a web designer can draw a wireframe on a piece of paper if he/she wants to), but it can take weeks to set right.
Another thing you have to consider is building materials or website resources:
- Branding elements
All of these translate to time and money.
If you want to save money, you have to create images yourself. However, this approach still comes at a cost: paying for graphic design software and courses.
For content, you need to write, which typically is ineffective if you're a complete beginner due to writing biases.
Acquiring building materials for your website for free is impossible. Either you pay for someone to create them, buy from an agency, or learn to craft them yourself. But here's the point: learning still costs you hours and hours of your time.
Please remember that professionals have been creating these website resources for years. They've also invested thousands of hours in training, not to mention the courses they've taken to get to their level.
But I'm Confident I Can Produce My Materials
To know that for sure, how about testing it? You can try selling your writing and graphic design skills online. Try Fiverr, or reach out to other business owners and tell them you'd like to offer your skills as a service.
Don't ask a friend or family member to critique your work; they're just as biased as you are, and they'd be hesitant to tell you everything. Sell it as a service so you'll have genuine feedback.
Can we slow things down and return to this section's primary heading? Aren't you taking a completely different path already? Shouldn't you focus on your business instead of dealing with everything above?
My point is: you're running a business.
You're not a student.
Each time you focus on something else, you're wasting time. And, oh, almost forgot! We haven't even mentioned one of the most crucial parts of building a website: coding.
Put that into the equation, and I'm sure you should understand that DIY web development is a bad idea since it's taking you to a different goal – not your business.
2. No Online Visibility
Okay, you're hard to convince, and maybe you have the skills to produce your website's building materials. And you're like, "I know a thing or two about coding, and I have tried Wix or Squarespace."
Kudos to that! Unfortunately, you're not halfway there yet.
Another thing is that if you want your website to become organically visible (getting free traffic from search engines), you have to use WordPress.org.
It's a bit harder to set up and more technical, but you get to optimize it for search. Of all the websites online today, over 60% of them are built on WordPress. Almost all of them represent businesses.
Search Engine Optimization – SEO
Businesses see WordPress websites as a long-term investment. When optimized correctly, it can acquire traffic without spending a cent on ads (social media or search engines). Imagine your website at the No. 1 spot on Google's results pages. The only problem now is SEO's complex nature.
How to SEO
Now, I'll be as brief as possible because explaining everything about SEO is the same as writing a book. And we don't have time for that.
In essence, SEO is making sure your website follows search engine rules. SEO is understanding and adapting to how search engines like Google and Bing rank websites:
- Answering search intent
- Proper URL structuring
- Quality content
- Quality backlinks
- Website performance
- Clean coding
- And many, many more
Search engine optimization is an elaborate process of refining your website and its content. Moreover, the hard part isn't just the implementation but the initial research. It will take weeks of planning to know your business and who your target persona is. It will take months to discover your prospects' queries online that translate to you (your business) being the answer or solution.
If you want to learn more about SEO, check this Search Engine Complete Guide. Please go ahead. Reading the first few lines should help me convince you that DIY web design and development is not the answer to growing your business.
3. Hidden Charges Everywhere
The funny thing about DIY website design and development is the expenses you don't see coming. Of course, you can pay for the hosting and the domain alone. But that's only the case if you have no plans to make your website rank highly on search.
If you don't care about getting your website visible, there's no practical purpose for having a website. You might as well not make a website, right?
You're still unsure. So please see some hidden charges that most business owners tend to overlook:
- Graphic design tools (Adobe Photoshop is at $21 a month)
- General SEO tools (Semrush is at $119 to $450 a month)
- Analytics tools
- Content optimization tools (SurferSEO at $49 a month and Grammarly at $12)
- Website plug-ins
- And many, many more
All the above have their free version counterparts. The only problem is that free often leads you to nowhere. Most of the valuable features that can bring in results are locked behind pricy packaged plans – most tools you'll never use.
If you're going to buy all these premium tools, you're spending the same amount as hiring a professional web design and development company to build a website for you. And here's the thing: they will do it thrice better than you since they are a team. There's a specialist for every task.
Working with an agency means hiring:
- A developer to ensure your website will work as designed
- A copywriter to deliver the right messaging for your brand
- A graphic artist to incorporate captivating and branded visuals
- An SEO specialist to optimize your site to rank for the keywords that will bring in sales
Think about it, even if you could pay for every tool, do you honestly believe that you can use all of them to their maximum potential?
4. Negative Impact
Let's say you haven't read this article, and you launched your website all on your own. How certain are you that it will positively represent your business?
If you have a fancy restaurant that sells good food, but your website displays unappetizing meals due to poor-quality photos, erroneously-worded menus, and a homepage that doesn't look trustworthy, you're leaving a negative mark on your business.
First impressions matter. And in this time and age, first impressions happen online – when people visit your website. Moreover, around 38% of people immediately leave an unattractive website. That's four out of ten people walking away from your business, judging it without even reading its content because it doesn't look nice.
If you build your website without professional help, you're doing more harm than good. You may see a drop in sales. Worst, your competitor may use that and have other people write something terrible about your website.
Building a website on your own isn't just costly; it can have awful consequences, especially for your business.
The Right Way for Businesses to Approach Website Building
If you're a serious business owner and would like to have a digital asset that would help you generate more income, having a website done by a professional web design and development company is the best way. There's no workaround. However, I also feel you when most of them today state that building a website will cost you anywhere around $3,000 to $10,000!
Fortunately for you, I have a secret way to minimize the cost while still getting the same value.
Premium Website Hosting and Management
The answer is to work with a website hosting and management service provider that offers web design and development.
Unlike web design and development companies or digital marketing agencies that focus on delivering a ready-made website, website management services providers work differently.
Usually, web hosting and management companies target businesses with an established website, offering maintenance, automation, and access to premium tools and plugins. They ask for a monthly fee, just like other hosting platforms. However, they charge a little extra due to the additional automation features on top of the hosting service. This monthly fee is only around $40 to $60 a month!
So, where is the part where you get to minimize the cost?
You can ask them to build your homepage for just around $400. "But I'm only getting a homepage!" Yes, that's that. But it's a lot cheaper than having them build the entire website in one go. The beauty of this approach is that you can take small steps without hurting your business' reputation as you get a professionally done landing page.
Every time you have extra money, you can pay them to create the next page. At the end of the year, you'll have a compelling website that converts its visitors and makes your business more visible online.
How About the Staggered Payment Approach
A well-established digital marketing agency will offer staggered payment. You don't have to pay $3,000 upfront; you can pay per month for six months. That's still $500 a month! And you're committed to paying that every 30 days, or there will be consequences.
Sure, if you have the means and think that that $500-per-month commitment is a walk in the park, it may be the better option. But, realistically, most small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. That's why they're so hesitant.
With premium web hosting and management providers, this commitment doesn't exist. There's no upcoming $500 bill after paying for this month. It's like having a physical DIY project, e.g., building a bike. You can buy the wheels and nothing else for the first year. There's no pressure!
Where to Start Your Business Website Building Journey
The best place to start your website journey is by talking to web design and development companies, digital marketing agencies, and managed website services providers. Ask if they can work with the system I mentioned above.
Don't worry about paying for the consultation. Most digital agencies offer it for free!
Tell them that you can't pay for a website over $3,000 upfront and are afraid of commitments – but you can pay for the monthly hosting and per-page-creation service.
Of course, most of them won't be open to this idea, and that's fine. It is pretty unorthodox. These companies are more comfortable building websites as a whole, and the per-page creation comes in only after the entire website has been built. Nonetheless, some of them will be eager to work with you – you just have to find them.
Websites are incredibly powerful digital marketing assets for businesses today. They can boost your brand awareness, showcase your products and services, and bring quality leads through SEO and paid ads when done right. On the other hand, messing it up can cause enough damage to make you consider rebranding your business.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 John Emerson Conde