Creating a website yourself is becoming an increasingly appealing option for those looking to improve their web presence. There are many options available, but it is important to understand what you are getting into when you make the choice between a do-it-yourself solution and going with a professional.
The time has come for you to get a new website. Maybe it’s a redesign of your current website, or maybe it’s brand new. You’ve done a bit of searching around the internet to see what options are available. Suddenly, you’re being bombarded with similar ads everywhere you go – Squarespace, Wix, Webflow… They’re everywhere! The ads you are seeing are from do-it-yourself (DIY) website building platforms.
In the past, you would have to go to a website development company to have a website built for you. This was generally very costly, but you knew that you were going to get something professional. These days, do-it-yourself platforms such as the ones mentioned above allow you to build a website yourself with an interface that generally does not require you to know how to code. In the short term, it will cost you less money, but it’s key to understand what you’re getting if you are leaning towards a DIY option rather than going to a professional agency.
Building a great website takes time. Lots of it. When building a website yourself, not only do you have to dedicate your time to the build itself, but you will want to research some best practices when it comes to web design. All of this takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, so for this reason alone many people prefer going to an agency that can do most of the heavy lifting. If you find yourself with lots of free time during your work day, then maybe you can afford to spend this time on a DIY site. If you are all tied up with other projects, having an agency build out your website may be a better option – just be sure to understand that neither option is completely hands-off in terms of the amount of your time that is required.
Budget is likely the main factor that will sway your decision between a DIY option versus a custom website from an agency. When working with an agency, you will pay a larger up-front sum for the build of the website, then pay recurring maintenance and upkeep costs which vary in price depending on your needs. With a DIY option, you only pay a monthly subscription fee to use the tools that your provider gives you access to. This also generally includes certain recurring costs such as hosting, a domain and possibly an SSL certificate.
In terms of expectations, you are almost always going to get a better result when you go to an agency. Realistically, you should expect a professional to do a far better job than what you are capable of. A well thought out strategy phase, exceptional design and even areas such as ensuring your website is technically sound with lightning fast page speed are areas where a professional will excel. Of course, you will pay a larger up-front cost, but for many that cost is absolutely worth it. Your website is an investment into your business.
Although many tools focus on ease-of-use, you will need to be rather comfortable with a computer to make anything that properly represents and markets your brand, services or product. Understanding how websites work along with having some knowledge on how Google indexes websites in search results will be highly beneficial. If you are not very capable with computers and are not willing to do some research on web practices, then working with a developer or agency may be a better option.
One major difference between a DIY build and delegating work to an agency is that with a DIY build, you are handling every step of the website build from strategy to launch. To get a stronger final product through the DIY route, you are going to need to learn how to effectively use the tools at your disposal. Depending on what your desired result is, this can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks of learning time. The difficulty and complexity for platforms varies. Out of the three most popular that are often brought up, the difficulty and complexity goes as follows (easiest/simplest to hardest/most complex): Wix, Squarespace, Webflow.
When employing a web design agency to handle the build, you can lean on professionals to give you feedback on your ideas. On top of this, there is essentially zero technical expertise required from you.
The cost of building a website should factor in changes and maintenance over at least 1-2 years. This is because a website requires to be hosted on a server, updated, secured, and have a domain name. With a DIY website, you skip the large up-front cost but will possibly pay more in recurring fees as you are paying for access to a set of proprietary tools rather than “open source” tools, which agencies often employ and are generally free to use.
A custom website from an agency is going to have an initial service cost to build. This can run you anywhere from $1,500 all the way up to $25,000 or more, depending on the agency and the scope of work. At Tempo, we generally charge anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 for a brochure website. What is a brochure website, you ask? This brings us to our next section – features.
The features of a website can be broken up into a few sections. Functionality, responsiveness, and ecommerce. DIY solutions and professionally built websites differ in how they approach these features.
Functionality refers to what your website provides to the user. In the section above, we mentioned brochure websites. A brochure website provides information to the user about your services, product, history or any other general information. It does not function as an online tool – a great example of an online tool is Google Maps. With any DIY option, you will not be able to incorporate any sort of functionality that would be considered a tool. You are limited to static content. For most people, this is sufficient, but if you are looking to integrate something such as a complex search tool or a user account-based system, you will almost certainly need to go with a professional.
Responsive design has to do with the way your website looks on different screen sizes, such as a tablet or smartphone. With an average of over 50% of traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s essential that your website is optimized for a mobile device. Generally, a DIY builder comes with a theme that is mobile responsive. If you go with the DIY option, make sure this is the case, as some of the cheaper themes do not come with this feature. When going the professional web agency route, you will now have the option of getting a website that is not only mobile responsive, but truly optimized for mobile. Mobile optimization focuses on making specific tweaks and customizations for mobile devices that improve the user experience on a touch device. It is much more than making the elements of the website stack on top of each other to be more readable – it is putting thought into each and every element to take advantage of a smaller screen and the varied interactions that mobile users employ, such as swiping and tapping.
See the chart below for worldwide device usage stats over the past year, comparing mobile, desktop and tablet.
Ecommerce is needed if you are selling anything on your website. Many of the popular DIY options offer some sort of ecommerce functionality, but often charge additional monthly fees for this option. You can setup a basic online store yourself, but you’re required to play within the lines for the most part. When employing a professional, the sky is the limit with your ecommerce options. Whether it’s an advanced search tool, custom product rules and sale opportunities, or even features such as user logins and shopping rewards systems, you can essentially turn your website into an advanced online storefront.
Choosing between a DIY solution or hiring a web professional comes down to a few things: your budget, the time you have available, your understanding of computers and the web and of course your requirements and expectations.
If you take your online presence seriously and it is a pivotal part of your sales process or lead generation, then we absolutely recommend going with an agency. Additionally, a professional has a wealth of experience building websites, therefore understands what areas to prioritize while creating the site. This quality relates heavily to how well your website performs, which can be the difference between you generating adequate revenue versus making the type of money you know you are capable of.