A lot of small businesses are looking to make the move to online these days. With the pandemic still going strong many business owners have had to find creative ways to stay open and still offer their services to customers in a safe manner. If you are looking to make the move to online you may be considering building the website yourself to save some money, after all you manage all of your social media marketing and are pretty computer savvy. I understand, times have never been tougher for small business owners. But how realistic is building a website for the average computer user?
What is the scope of your project?
When I say ‘scope’, I mean what kind of a website are you looking for and what do you want it to be able to do? Are you looking for a basic informational website with some service listings and a contact form, or do you want a full functional online shop with integrated payments? Does your website need to be secured because you will be capturing payment information from customers? Does it need to manage inventory? Do you want a paywall so that only subscribers can visit certain areas of the website?
Essentially, the more you want your website to do the more complicated it gets. If you are looking to set up a basic informational website and aren’t too fussy about how ‘on brand’ it looks, then that might be within your reach. But if you want to have a website that really matches your brands look and feel and has a lot of functionality then you’re going to need a custom solution and that will require knowledge of coding languages and content management software.
SquareSpace, Wix, etc. says I can build a website in one evening and it’s super easy!
Again if you are just looking to set up something very simple, then one of those ‘WYSIWYG’ solutions should work for you. WYSIWYG stands for ‘What You See Is What You Get’, which is what web developers call visual editors where you can drag and drop things or otherwise use a graphical interface to build and customize your website. There are a couple of potential drawbacks to these types of editors. One, they tend to be pretty expensive. Expect to pay $30 – $100 a month for the lifetime of your account which can add up to $1000s of dollars. For a basic website, that’s expensive.
The second thing is that they can be a little unforgiving. You drag something to the wrong place and suddenly your whole design is a mess. Everything has moved around and looks terrible! If you’re lucky they will offer an ‘undo’ button and you can roll it back, but they might not. Sometimes the user interface isn’t terribly intuitive either, despite how ‘easy’ they might say it is to use. I’ve seen fairly important customization options hidden in strange sub-menus.
The last drawback is that they often add a lot of extraneous code which can slow things down on the website. Aside from a website being slow just not providing a great user experience, it can also affect your ranking in Google. If you are in a super competitive industry, then it might make the difference between your website getting on the first page or not.
How much time do you realistically have to devote to the project?
This is probably the biggest factor, do you really have the time to put into learning how to build a website? Even if you use a visual editor there will still be a learning curve and you should expect the project to take several hours. If you run a small business, that may be time that you don’t have or that would be better spent on other aspects of the business. It’s not just the actual time put into building the website, you’re also going to need to put time into learning about some things. Do you know what a domain name is, or web hosting, and how they are different from each other? You’re going to need both to set up a website. How about email? Do you know how to set that up?
Now even if you hire a firm to build the website for you it will still take a little time as you’re going to need to provide them with the information they need to create your website. They will need direction on how you want the website to look and feel, and what to say on it. They probably have some good copywriters, but they aren’t mind readers and don’t know your business inside and out like you do. However it can be the difference between spending 3 hours on the website and spending 20+ hours trying to build it out yourself.
If you can, hire the professionals
I suppose we are biased as a web design firm, but only because we’ve helped so many other business owners to get their website online quickly and easily. In our opinion while it might be feasible for the average computer user to build a website, it’s not really worth the headache unless it’s a skill you’re really interested in putting in the time to learn. The feedback we’ve gotten is that it was well worth the up front expense, and that having a well functioning websites has increased their sales without them having to do much extra. One customer sent us an elated email after waking up to several sales having been made while she was asleep! If you’re looking to move your business online, let’s talk. You can use the contact form to send us a message, we look forward to discussing your business goals.