Hire a web designer or do it yourself?

Making the choice to Do It Yourself

Many people judge a website by how it looks. Unless you’re a web designer, that’s quite reasonable.

If you look at the cost of some websites, and the look you can create with a website builder such as Squarespace or Weebly, it’s natural to consider a DIY website.

To make that choice, you need look at what goes into a website.

Thinking about search engines

Every business either has a website, or is thinking of getting one.

With all those websites, how does Google or any other search engine decide which is the best and which to show for a given search?

Google can’t understand images or graphics, so a pretty looking website simply will not cut it.

If you were Google, how would you decide which site to list before others?

Search engines are now very good at analysing a website to determine how relevant it is to any given query.

The reality is Google uses behind the scenes factors to judge a website. It has to be so, otherwise how does Google sort out the literally hundreds of websites that might match one search query?

In a typical DIY website, search engines are frequently given  no thought, or paid lip service.

Your competitors, on the other hand, may have invested in a good website that has given it a lot of thought.

Thinking about your customers

From the offerings put up by a search engine, humans will be the ultimate judge of the relevance of your website and products.

So how do humans decide one website is better than another, or to purchase a similar product from one outlet over another?

The answer lies in design, professional copy-writing, consumer psychology and other  marketing techniques. For example, a good website design will be carefully laid out, with the careful use of colours, highlights, graphics and many other  techniques.

In a almost all  DIY websites, marketing and consumer psychology is given no thought at all. Marketing, copywriting skills and market research are  not considered to be part of a website for the DIYer.

Almost all DIY websites will use a set layout and colour scheme (template), and include no customisations specific to the business.

If you are honest with yourself, you know a DIY website when you see one. You just may not understand why.

This is why a DIY website can appear to be a cheap option – if you leave out all the hard stuff, it’s all pretty simple! So let’s look at the easy stuff first.

It’s easy to create a website

Even you can spend a couple of hours on a website builder and call yourself a web designer. Conversely, just because you give a web designer some cash, it does not mean they will create you an effective website.

Why is it apparently so easy to create a website?

DIY Websites made easy

Previously, creating a website involved coding. Lots of it. You had no choice but to pay premium rates for a website designer.

Then, free (content management) systems, like WordPress, Dupral and Joomla, became available. Templates pre-determined the layout or design.

With spare time and good technical skills, a DIY website became a viable option.

Do It Yourself Web Design

Now website builders, like Squarespace, Weebly or GoDaddy, are available. They still need some technical skills, but don’t need coding knowledge. Although less flexible, they are much easier than WordPress or Joomla.

With a drag and drop interface, it’s now very easy to create a web page.

But as I highlighted above, there’s far more to a website than looks alone. While creating a few pages is easy, there’s far more needed to make your website attractive to both Google and humans.

Hiring a budget Web Designer

With the new easy to use tools came a proliferation of “web designers”.

But the low entry level means many websites are merely just a web page, with little else to make it effective. These websites cost you money, but do little to help your business.

These poor web designs exist because it’s quick and easy to create a web page without much of what’s needed for an effective web design.

Depending on how you value your time, you might as well do it yourself and save yourself the money.

In both those cases, what you won’t get are more customers. Without understanding and applying all the parts of good web design, your site will not attract and convert visitors into customers.

Websites done well – Web Designer ond DIY

Whether you decide on a DIY website, or decide to hire a website designer, either you or the designer will need to be skilled at every effective design technique.

Some of the things you need to learn, or your designer will need to know, to create an effective website are:

  • keyword research
  • competitor analysis
  • effective layout
  • well structured site navigation
  • call to action placement
  • customer awareness levels
  • copywriting for the web
  • consumer psychology (why are people leaving your site without buying?)
  • internet marketing techniques
  • on-site SEO best practises
  • off-site SEO
  • how to monitor and maintain the effectiveness of your website
  • tools to boost sales, and which are not applicable to you – tools such as : email marketing, paid advertising, promotions, social media etc
  • choosing the right platform (website builders have some significant limitations)
  • choosing the right template or layout (many templates have bad design practices. Many free ones contain malware
  • and so on  ….

Be careful not to stop at the simple creation of a web page or two.

To get an effective website, the choice comes down to finding and paying a good web designer, or having the time and dedication to learn all the necessary skills.

If you’re up to the challenge, a DIY website can be very effective for your business. As I mentioned, to do this well for your business, and to outperform your competition, you should plan on around 6 months of learning and hands-on experience.

If you don’t intend to reuse that skill, then you should consider  finding a good web designer.

Hire a web designer or Do It Yourself?

You could make your own furniture, or your own clothes. You’re unlikely to get any buyers. Until you learn and practise what it takes.

In the same way, you can easily make your own website. But don’t expect to get a website that performs, beats your competitors or gets you lots of new business. Not until you learn and apply all the techniques that go into good web design.

There is  strong case for a simple DIY website instead of a budget or poor web designer. Neither will get you good results. You can do the same work  and get the same results for free, with only an investment in your time.

If you are prepared to invest the time to learn and practise all the skills needed, a DIY website can be an effective marketing tool for your business. But don’t be fooled into thinking all that’s involved is learning how knock up a website through a website builder. Learning and practising everything that’s needed to make a good website will take you at least 6 months. I can tell you that from personal experience.

As I said at the start, there’s a lot more to a good website than how it looks. Hiring a good web designer who understands everything that’s needed will always outperform a DIY or budget website. It will also cost more initially, but a good website should return your investment.

Whichever way you decide to go, make sure you don’t end up with  just a few web pages with nothing behind them to make them effective. ‘

Don’t let your competitors take away your business for the sake of a small investment in the right website.