Thinking of building your own website? Read this first...

I get it, I've been there. I wasn't always a website designer. Infact in 2008, I built my very first DIY website. I have a passion for learning and design so the fact that it took me so long to make and get my head around a new program was okay with me.

How did it turn out? I thought it was fab!

What did my customers think? They thought it looked great.

What did my sales analytics tell me? My website needed to be a lot more than pretty.

You see, with all the website design tools available on the internet, you might believe website creation is fairly simple. It’s true that with a few clicks and drags, you can create a good-looking website for free. But given the fact that your website is central to your digital marketing strategy, and an important part of your success your website needs to be a lot more than pretty.

Here are some aspects of website creation that can be tricky:

  • Mobile Compatibility: Many people searching for your business will be doing so via tablet or their mobile phone. Many websites, however, display differently on these devices than they do on laptops and desktops. This means businesses must essentially create a website with two designs in mind: the one optimized for mobile devices and the one viewed on other devices, such as computers.

  • Accessibility: If you have a physical store, you’ll likely already know a bit about making things handicap accessible since it’s part of local and federal law. You might not have considered, however, making your online presence equally approachable. If you truly welcome all customers, your website should be accessible to the blind and deaf, as well, which requires special design aspects.

  • Logical Layout: To a degree, this is intuitive. As a consumer, you visit websites and know which layouts work for you and which ones don’t, but your preferences aren’t always going to line up with those of the average user. Professional website designers, however, know the research and results that inform where items should go, how they should be grouped, and more.

  • Winning Content: Website design is about more than the technical elements; it also involves content creation. A designer isn’t likely doing this on their own, but most web designers have professional writers and graphic artists they work with. The end result is winning content targeted to the desires of your customers.

  • Quick Website Loading: Have you ever clicked on a website, only for it to take ages to load? It’s something we all loathe, which is why you don’t want your website to be sluggish. Most people will wait six seconds or less for a page to load before they close the window and are done with your business. Website designers know how to minimize load times for a frustration-free browsing experience.

  • Secure: When a professional designer creates a website, they make certain it’s secure for you and your customers. Not only does this encourage greater trust in your company, but it also helps your site rank better in searches—which is vital to success.

So what are the pros of creating your own website?

You’ll save money, at least in theory (keep in mind that if your website isn’t keeping up or needs changes, however, it may cost you more money in the long run).

  • You can make it happen on your own time. Going DIY means you can start designing right now. (Even though it may take longer to get it up and running)

  • You’ll learn something new. As grown-ups, we rarely learn new skills or study new fields. If you have time and take the design process seriously, there’s a lot to learn.

  • You can take pride in your accomplishment if it turns out well. This is something you can’t get from having someone else create the site for you.

Cons of creating your own website?

  • Your time could be better used elsewhere. Even when using drag and drop programs to design a website, you can expect to put in weeks of work before you have a page that’s live and ready to share.

  • Designers understand search engine optimization. While you might grasp the basics, this isn’t something to leave up to chance, especially given the importance of search engine rank and your business.

  • People know professionalism when they see it. Even the best free templates tend to read like canned products to customers. A unique website is something people are drawn to.

  • Free templates are used all the time—because they’re free. If you use them too, your website is going to look identical, or at least very similar, to thousands of other websites.

  • DIY site builders tend to have inaccurate site analytics. Because analytics drive your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need them to be as accurate as possible.

  • If you choose to go the free route, invasive ads can take over your site and lower your customer experience, even after all that hard design work. Professional designers will know where to host the site and how to control the advertising content.

  • DIY websites don’t come with support. Websites run into bugs and have to be updated often. If you create your own design, you go solos for fixes and updates too, which can take hours of work.

  • Nothing on the web stays the same for long. There are security updates, new search engine guidelines, and design trends you will need to stay on top of in order to adjust your website accordingly.

  • Websites and servers can crash and when they do, they’re gone for good—unless there’s a backup. Most DIY platforms don’t offer this service.

Hidden Website Costs

Creating your own website can seem like a super money saver, especially if you have the time to do it yourself. But here are just some of the hidden costs of DIY website creation:

  • Layout Bugs- Small updates or changes in content can cause a website to go completely out of whack. This means if you can't fix it, you'll most likely have to hire a designer to do so. Most charging a minimum of $100 per hour.

  • Assuming the service you use doesn’t automatically backup your website, you’re going to need to pay a secondary service to keep your website saved and safe. This could cost upwards of $49 a month.

  • Many website builders don’t include security features, but a safe and secure website is a must-have. Professional designers include security in their products but if you go it alone, you’ll need to hire someone to secure your website for you. Anticipate spending at least $15 a month for an automated security program and much more for human assistance.

  • Search engine optimization is one of those areas that doesn’t go far on instinct alone. Web designers have the tools needed to determine which keywords to use, how often to use them, and when to change them up to keep your ranking high. Alone, you’ll need to purchase these tools yourself, hire an SEO expert, or wing it. For an expert, be ready to spend upwards of $300 for initial assistance and additional charges each time your SEO needs to be updated.

  • Analytics and data drive online marketing decisions, and you can get plenty from your website—if you have the right tools. Just as with SEO, a web designer can include analytics in your design and maintenance package, but you’ll spend a lot of money buying them on your own. Assuming you use several subscription services to get the full picture, you could spend $50 a month or more.

  • Branding is key to any marketing plan. Even with a prefabricated template, you will most likely need to have graphics designed. When you hire a designer, these costs are typically included, but on your own, you’ll have to hire a graphic designer for quality results. Expect to pay $100 an hour or more for this work.

Weighing up your options

While there certainly are benefits of creating your own website—each pro starts with you. Time and effort are needed for digital tasks rather than running your business. New skills and a sense of accomplishment may leave you feeling great, but they don’t convert to income.

The end goal is to convert website visitors into customers. Can a DIY website do that? It can if you have the time and effort for design, upkeep, and updates to the website.