So you have decided to build a Website for your business or redesign your outdated one. But should you do it yourself, or hire an expert?
The answer depends on whether you have the budget to hire a reputable Web developer. If not, do you have the time, patience, and know-how to do it yourself?
If you don’t have a big budget, there are plenty of freelancers who offer low-cost solutions to building a simple business website.
However, you might find your Website lacking necessary on-boarding solutions such as built-in email lead generation tools, social media sharing options, proper on-page search engine optimization, and follow-up support.
There are also the horror stories of web developers disappearing after a Website is only half built, leaving the business owner having to hire someone else to finish their site. By this time, they have spent as much as they would have if they hired a reputable developer in the first place.There are also the horror stories of web developers disappearing after a Website is only half built ... #Webdesign #wordpress Click To Tweet
If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a professional developer, there are many options available to make the process of building a Website much easier. You don’t need to know how to code, nor do you need to learn how to use complicated programs.
The caveat is you may encounter some learning curves if you take on the task of building your Website, and it may take more time than it is worth.
Also, there are so many DIY Website building platforms available it is hard to decide which is the best one to use.
If you decide you have the time and patience to build a Website, here are some important considerations when choosing what platform to use:
1. Ease of Use
Are the overall Website building tools easy to understand and use? Many platforms feature drag-and-drop building methods, others are a little more complicated, depending on what type of features you want for your Website.
Wix and Weebly are greats Website building platforms for beginners. You just drag and drop. The learning curve for a WordPress based site is a little higher, but once you get the hang of it, it is a simple step-by-step process to customize your Web layout and design.
2. Strong SEO Tools
Will the backend information of your site (site description, title tags, meta-descriptions, etc.) be indexable by search engines? Does the platform offer SEO tools you can use to optimize your site further, so search engines can find it?
If you use WordPress, there are hundreds of free and paid SEO plugins that offer on-page and off-page optimization.
While anyone can buy a Domain name (URL web address) and hosting plan separately, many DIY platforms like Shopify, Weebly, and Wix bundle these with their overall Website building packages.
Individually, it costs about $10 to buy a Domain, unless you’re going after a popular one, like Power.com, which went for $1.261 million in 2004, according to Business Insider.
Hosting plans cost anywhere between $3.99 a month for shared plans to $99 a month for dedicated server plans. (Visit this page from Inmotion Hosting for a great explanation on differences between shared, VPS and dedicated host plans.)
If you host your Website on a shared plan and buy a Domain, your costs will run about $70 to $100 a year.
Platforms like Shopify or Weebly offer free Domains with their lower-end packages, but you do not own them (see No. 4 for why this is bad), and your URL won’t be just your company’s name.
For example: If you want the business Domain jacksdoggrooming.com, on Weebly it will look like this, jacksdoggrooming.weebly.com. Not only is it wrong for SEO purposes it is also long and ungainly.
To have a dedicated URL on a site like Shopify, you have to pay extra.
For me, I host my WordPress sites with Arvixe and buy my URLs with Namecheap. I pay $60 per year for my business Website hosted on a shared plan. It costs about $10 a year for my domain. I also pay $9 per year for an SSL certificate*. The total cost is $79 for one year. My hosting plan includes customer support. Anytime I have a problem it is quickly resolved via chat, email or phone support.
A Weebly Business Website is $300 minimum per year. Wix is about the same. These two offer customer support, but if you go with a lower-priced package, the support type is limited. Shopify, which is mainly used by those wanting to sell products online, offers packages starting at $29 per month ($348 per year).
*SSL certificates are vital if you will be collecting sensitive information such as phone numbers and emails from visitors on your Website.
Self Hosted WordPress Site
While I save money by using WordPress, the downside is I am responsible for my websites. If something goes wrong, I need to fix it or hire a developer. If something goes wrong with a Shopify or other DIY site, they fix it.
4. Theme or Design Ownership
For the uninitiated, Website themes are out-of-the-box Website designs. The idea with themes is you can upload your images and text, and use drag and drop or similar methods to build your site, without having to do any coding.
Theme or design ownership is, for me, the most critical factor. One of the reasons I use WordPress and purchase separate hosting to build my sites is that I once I buy a theme, or develop my own, I can take it with me. If I decide to change host servers, my Website design is mine to keep. I just need to package and download my website and upload it to another host.
On the other hand, with platforms like Weebly, Wix, and Shopify, which offer excellent design themes, once you decide you don’t want to use their services any longer, you cannot take your Website design with you. All you can do is download your text and images, and then you have to build your site all over again on whatever platform you switched to.
Also, if I buy my URL, as long as I continue paying the yearly fee, I own that URL no matter what. It is not clear if you buy one via Weebly and the other platforms if you own it, or they do.
5 The Extras
As I mentioned earlier, with WordPress, there are hundreds of free plugins you can use to customize your Website. From email subscriptions forms to social media sharing plugins and event calendars, you can customize your site down to every last desired detail.
Also, most Web hosting providers make it super easy to receive support for technical or other issues.
The other platforms are limited — by what they offer or by cost. Want to add subscriptions forms? There will be an add-on cost for that. Need to implement email marketing options? Pony up some extra dollars. Need to talk to someone by phone about your Website? Upgrade to a higher cost plan, and we’ll be right with you.
In the end, it is up to you whether you have the time, patience and ability to tackle the technicalities of building a website yourself. If you would rather spend your time doing what you know — which is running your business — it might be a better bet to hire a professional Website developer.