Websites. Hire a Web Developer or Do It Yourself?
If you're one of the 75% of small businesses in the UK that currently don't have a website, we're confident that, at some point, you will have at least thought about it.
Whether you want it to increase revenue, broaden your appeal or just open you up to markets you can't get into physically, a website can be a great leveller and a huge benefit to any business.
There is more to having a website than just the process of creating some pages. Throw marketing, search engine optimisation, graphic design, email campaigns and hosting costs into the mix and it's enough to put you off completely.
If you're not particularly tech-savvy, it can be a daunting prospect trying to find the right web designer and developer to build it for you. You might have even thought about doing it yourself, but what are the pros and cons of either? Let's take a look.
The Elephant in the Room.com
Now, before we start, we know what you're thinking. "Yeah, but you're a web development agency so obviously, you're going to say we should hire someone, probably you". Yes, we are and yes we do, but that's not what this is about.
All we can do is tell you that we've been on both sides of the argument. Our team have started businesses in the past with little (i.e. zero) money and had to build the website ourselves (not least because we didn't have the money to pay someone to do it even if we wanted to).
Yes, we now build websites for clients around the world, but we understand and appreciate where small businesses are coming from because we are one!
We know how hard it is to run a business at the best of times (let alone in the current economic climate), let alone having to worry about analytics, marketing, SEO and everything else that comes with it.
Basically, we're trying to offer up some pointers so that, if you are in a position where you're wanting to build a website, you can see both sides of the argument to give your business the best foundation on which to make the right decision for you.
If you ultimately choose to do it yourself, then great. This website has a wide collection of blog posts covering a whole range of topics that will help you, and you don't have to pay us a penny to read any of them. We hope they help you.
Alternatively, if you do want some help from us, then we'd be delighted to have that conversation. Use our Contact Us page to get in touch.
If the question you're asking yourself is "should I build my website myself or hire someone?", then there's no right or wrong answer to it.
It all depends on you and your particular circumstances including how technical you are, how creative you are and the age-old battle between time and money.
We've divided it up into two pathways so you can decide which one is right for you.
A. The DIY Path
What might make you want to build your own website? Great question. Even if you start from scratch and have no web design experience to draw upon, don't discount it. Doing it yourself might be the best way if:
You Like Learning New Skills
Every day can be a school day. That is to say that you can learn something new all the time. If you have no experience in web design, but love to immerse yourself in a new hobby and pick up new skills to add to your skill set, this could be perfect for you.
You Are Tech Savvy
Obviously when you're talking about building a website, then you will need some degree of skills with computers, or at least the patience to learn it. Some platforms like WordPress, SquareSpace or Wix offer newcomers a modular experience to building websites, so you don't need to learn code. Simply add pre-designed 'blocks' to create pages then you'll soon have a whole site that can look fantastic. The more you learn, the more you'll be amazed at what you can do.
You Have The Time
Creating a website does take some time, how much will depend on where you're starting from, but if time isn't an issue for you, then DIY might be the way to go. If you have the space in your calendar to learn what's needed, then absolutely go for it. That said, it's not like there isn't a multitude of other things that take your time when running a business!
You might also want a website now, like right now! Professional web developers will usually need to take some time to build you a site amongst their many other clients. This might mean it could be weeks or months before you get something online. Doing it yourself cuts down the time enormously. The sooner it's online, the sooner you can start making sales (in theory).
You Want Creative Control
Of course, if you're building your own website that means you get full creative control over it. Use the fonts you want, and the colour scheme you want and make it look EXACTLY how you want it to look. Sure, you may be missing the underpinning principles of web design or some key SEO steps, but it's going to be all yours! That's not to say you don't get any control if someone builds it for you, but this way it's all you! 100%
You Don't Mind A Little Trial and Error
If your business is brand new, you might just want to see if the whole thing is viable before taking the plunge and hiring someone. The DIY route lets you create a website without investing too much time and money at the outset (even if it's not the prettiest or fully functioning) and focus on getting the business up.
B. The Hiring A Professional Web Developer Path
So after reading that, if you're still not convinced building your own website is the way to go, then the other option is to get someone to do it for you (Hint: Hire Us ;-)
We're not going to go into actually finding the right developer (because again, that's obviously us ;-) but if you don't have the time, skills or inclination, then it's something you might want to consider.
Again, there's no right or wrong way but circumstances might make it the best option for you if:
You Have The Budget
If you've got the money to hire a professional, then it can be a worthwhile investment. "How much does a website cost?" is one of the most common questions we get asked, and there really isn't a simple answer. It's a bit like asking how much is a car! It depends on what you want it to do. Is a car that costs £50 the same as one that costs £250,000? Obviously not. You get what you pay for. Broadly speaking, websites can cost anywhere from £200 right up to about £5000 (or more), again, depending on the features you want, the scope of the project, etc.
You Don't Have The Time
If you haven't got the time to learn how to do it yourself, what with all the other drains on you that come with running a business, outsourcing the building of your website might be a more efficient use of your time.
Also, if there's no great rush to get online and you have the time to plan it out over a longer period, then that's absolutely fine. Once you find a developer you like (it's us remember), you might find you need to fit around their schedule so if there's no panic to get online, don't rush it.
You've Been There. Done That.
Maybe you've tried building your website in the past and it didn't work out so well and has put you off trying again, then there's no shame in admitting defeat. The design of the site itself is just one small part and it's absolutely fine to know when you're beaten. It can be daunting to wrap your head around it all when you could be doing other things, so passing it off to someone else is often the sensible (and less stressful) thing to do.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
We hope this has given you some food for thought when it comes to what's right for you and your business. For fear of repeating ourselves again, there's no right or wrong answer. What's right for you might not be right for someone else.
Take some time to understand and honestly evaluate where you're at on your entrepreneurial journey, the resources available to you and the timescale you're working towards. Once you've done that, you'll have a clearer perspective on which path is right for you.
Remember, there's a difference between a web designer and a web developer. A designer will do just that, they'll design the layout, colour palette, fonts, etc but not any of the technical building of the site. You'll need a web developer to actually, you know, develop it.
If you do opt for hiring a professional, we'd appreciate it if you'd consider us (contact us here), but if not, we wish you well with whomever you choose.
Let us know how you get on in the comments below, especially if you do it yourself. Please send us a link once you're online, we'd love to see what you come up with.