You might think it would be counterintuitive for a marketing agency to write about the pros and cons of building your own website. But at the end of the day, we want our clients to be well informed about all their options. We want to guide them in making the best decision for their business.
Your overall marketing strategy paves the way for the customer to find you. The experience your website delivers is typically the first impression a customer will have about your business making it one of your most valuable marketing assets. That being said, it is important to weigh all your options when it comes to building your site.
“Back-in-the-day” building your own website meant needing a degree in computer programming. The average business owner did not have the skill set needed, leaving no choice other than to hire a professional. But this is 2019 and technology has provided several do-it-yourself options. DIY website building platforms like Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly or GoDaddy can help you easily create a website that is both functional and visually appealing. Their drag-and-drop features are a cinch to use and the website architecture is all template based, allowing the user to build their site with little to no programming required.
With many of them offering Freemium plans (free to use) you can have a fully-functional, mobile responsive, graphically appealing website up and running with little out-of-pocket cost and minimal time invested.
So, the question is, why choose otherwise?
Time is Money:
With the same basic knowledge it takes to operate your smartphone, you can have a nice looking website live in a fraction of the time it once took. Even though you do not need to know HTML, CSS or other coding languages to create your site, there is a ton of code behind the template options. That code is set in stone which creates functional limitations for scalability, future additions and search engine optimization.
Fun fact: According to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less. Kissmetrics’ analytics say that 40 percent of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
This isn’t about patience really, it’s about our rapidly evolving “normal”. Some of us can remember the days of dial-up, when we could make dinner in the time it took for our information to load. Not so today. Every second counts when it comes to captivating your audience. The more you add to a templated website, the slower it will perform.
“Your website is often the first interaction a client has with your brand. Ensuring that your website is operating at the most efficient level is essential in converting visitors into clients.” ~Vincent Baron, Director of Technical Operations
While you might think that you would be saving time on the front end, we have met many clients who have become frustrated with the template-based limitations as they attempt to build out their websites with more robust content. They become frustrated because:
- Building their own site proves to be a greater undertaking than they anticipated. Between writing their own content, choosing photos, creating menus and ensuring proper functionality, it’s more all-consuming than it appears to be.
- Competitors websites begin to look a lot like theirs because everyone has access to the same stock templates.
- They didn’t know what they didn’t know. The DIY client is often unaware of the tools, analytics and experience needed for future growth.
- They struggle to keep up with necessary updates to keep their website digitally viable.
Things change so fast in our online world, for a successful digital presence it is imperative that your website stays up to date. Google requirements and digital best practices demand constant attention and often require changes to the coding style to make them search engine friendly. Template-based building platforms limit the owner’s ability to make the necessary changes and finding a workaround will often cost the owner more time in the long run. Time they could be spending growing their business. And we all know, time is money.
A Sense of Security
When using a template-based platform or even if you graduate up to using WordPress to build your website, there are important security measures necessary to keep your content safe.
Remember, the coding is set for you in most DIY platforms. Some website builders offer basic security encryption measures, SSL certificates and HTTPS activation. However, what is available varies from platform to platform, with most being add-on paid features limiting flexibility within a budget.
Additionally, should your website become infected with malware and viruses, you must act quickly and thoroughly to prevent further infection. This can be a huge undertaking because it requires looking through hundreds of lines of codes looking for the slightest anomaly which would almost always necessitate the need for an IT professional. From our experience, this usually happens at the most inopportune time for a client.
Assuming your site is coded securely, is your content safe? Sadly, there’s no guarantee.
You spend countless days (and possibly nights) working on your website, tweaking this, adjusting that, adding content, and writing articles, only to login in one day and find that all of it is gone. Not just unavailable, but gone.
The terms of service for many website builders outline that they have the right to determine the ownership of “User Content.” Yep, that means, in many cases, you don’t own or control your content.
If you opt for a DIY platform, or an “included website”, read the fine print first! Make sure your marketing agreement states that you own your content. Google is demanding more and more authoritative content. It would be a shame to spend hours and money obtaining that content only to have it taken away.
One more thing to consider when weighing your options…
The Curse of Knowledge
The Curse of Knowledge causes us to forget what it’s like to be the person learning something for the first time. We take for granted the knowledge we have, and we can’t remember the questions we would have asked before we gained the knowledge. This curse can fall on anyone who is making an initial introduction of a topic, company, product or even a person.
We have reviewed many websites that made perfect sense to the one who wrote it, the owner, but left the user with a ton of unanswered questions. As the expert in your field, it can be a challenge to create a website that breaks the Curse of Knowledge and anticipates the information a first-time learner will need.
Know Your Options
When a client comes to us for a consultation on updating or building a website from scratch, we go through a due diligence process to ensure they are making an educated decision. There are times when a DIY platform is the best initial option they have given their available resources. Our overarching goal is to help business owners leverage their available time, the software or digital tools available to them, and their money to achieve their growth goals.
We encourage our clients to ask themselves a few questions before deciding the best avenue for their website development:
- Do you have the time available to build your website the right way with engaging authoritative search engine friendly content?
- Do you have the time to dedicate to ensure your website is visually appealing, laid out well, mobile responsive and secure?
- Do you have a goal to grow your business past what a templated platform can offer you so you do not have to re-do your website as you grow?
- Would you make more money doing what you do with the time it would take you to build and maintain your website?
- If you already have a website, are you seeing the results you want to see?
- Are you frustrated by limitations of a current site?
Whether you’re a start-up or have been in business for some time, Affordable Image wants to be a trusted partner for the lifecycle of your business. We want our clients to feel confident that our main goal is their business and their success. We believe that when we act with integrity, educating and informing, our clients will remember us for more than a product we deliver.
Not part of the Affordable Image family and have questions about your website? Call us at 800-639-1622, we’d be happy to help answer any question you may have.