I am not a lawyer, a doctor or a dentist. I do not know how to manage a building services business, efficient energy systems company or home construction firm. My clients have hired me to design and build websites for all kinds of businesses, but I wouldn’t ever try to run my clients’ businesses.
That’s because I know what I don’t know.
We’re hearing about this phenomenon lately especially in the small to medium size businesses space … business owners want to build their own websites. Sites like Wix and Weebly invite perfectly intelligent, otherwise capable individuals who have realized great success in their own business ventures to suddenly somehow morph into a web designer. It’s really not all their fault … these sites make building a website sound like something a kindergartener could easily manage. Thousands of templates they say … Simple Drag and Drop … And it’s FREE (and with that one word business owners everywhere become completely convinced they’ll never need a web designer.)
Every business owner (including me) likes to save money. But we can’t save money to the detriment of our marketing efforts — and for small business owners everywhere, websites are their biggest marketing effort.
So, in case you’re ever tempted to give those do-it-yourself and do-it-for-free websites a go, here are some good reasons not to.
The website builder sites offer you free services, but your time (or your employee’s time) isn’t free. Assuming you’ve never worked with web templates (even drag and drop web templates), you’ll have a lot to learn. Even the easiest templates aren’t incredibly intuitive if you’re not a designer. Odds are the investment of time you make in creating a website will be quite large. Different website builders offer varying levels of complexity … but even the most simple will require some on the fly education.
Your business requirements
One of the most valuable things a web design agency can do for you is to determine the scope of the website that will be appropriate for your business. Depending on the size and nature of your business, a designer may suggest a variety of pages in addition to the traditional About Us, Our Services/Products and Contact Us pages that you’ve come to expect on a website. Determining site depth is something a website designer does at the very beginning of a project — and it’s something that will help you attract visitors, collect leads and convert customers.
Drag and drop sounds great … and it really can be. But any skilled website designer will tell you how important it is to differentiate your site from other, similar businesses on the web. The thing is that if you follow a template exactly as it’s given to you, you’re not going to be able to do that. Certainly you’ll choose your own images and your content will be your own, but unless you know how to manipulate that template your site may end up looking like a lot of others that are out there. What do I mean? Font style, font size and font weight are all important parts of design. Understanding how to use these to your best advantage may not be apparent to you. Web designers know what to do.
It’s an issue. Web content needs to give a voice to your business. It needs to promote your business. It needs to help you sell. Your web designer may, in fact, ask you to supply content. What you get back will probably NOT be exactly what you submitted. Many web designers work with content creators who understand how a good website should read. And if they don’t, they’ll tweak the content you’ve provided themselves. Creating compelling CTAs (calls to action), web forms, and contact opportunities are things designers do every day.
The best web designers make this part look easy. Your web forms stopped working. You call your website designer and it’s fixed in ten minutes. Your scrolling home page slider stopped scrolling. Easy fix. If anything like this happens with your DIY site, odds are you’ll be spending some time on the phone with technical support learning how to fix it yourself. You created your site, you’ll be taking care of any problems.
Limited opportunity for change
Most website designers DO use templates, but they’re skilled in customizing those templates with the addition of hard coding. So, next year, if you add a new service you need to promote and you’d like to add it to your home page with an attention-getting graphic call out, you may not be able to do that if you’ve designed your site on your own. Your template will be your template for the life of your site and unless you start over from scratch, your opportunity to add some new bells and whistles may be limited, at best.
If you’re thinking about having your first website built, or having your current website redesigned, you may also be thinking that it’s an investment you just can’t afford. That’s the other thing a good designer is skilled at — figuring out how to give you the website you need within your determined budget. Your well-designed website IS an investment that will bring you a return on the money you spend.
We’ve got a lot more to share, so stay tuned!