In the past decade, the business and marketing community woke up to the capability of commerce-driven interactive features. Simultaneously, businesses became tired of waiting and ongoing costs to maintain and update their website. Gone were the days from the 90s where web developers educated business owners and non-profit managers about the importance of having a web presence.
Skip forward 10 years and people’s confidence towards the web grew while Internet technology continued to advance. Big businesses started to build a strong web presence with custom designed web platforms showcasing brochure-type material, with a few embarking on interactive sites.
It was around that time web professionals realized many entrepreneurs and personal bloggers couldn’t afford custom designed sites. Insert the newest developments: first generation clunky Do-It-Yourself (DIY) sites with limited customization abilities. And the current second generation DIY website tools with more features and functionality like Yola, Drupal, Joomla, Weebly and WordPress.
In this article, I will compare the pros and cons of DIY vs. hiring a web professional.
DIY (Do It Yourself)
The advantages first and foremost are to have full control over your creative process – you design your masterpiece. Basic design has been made easy with drag and drop functionalities without having to learn code. You can fall back of a wide range of tutorials without relying on a busy web developer.
A big pro is the initial affordability of building your own website. On the other side, you have to play around with design elements and functionalities that for most people outside the web industry are new to them. It may actually take (a lot of) time away from building your business.
I encourage all entrepreneurs to understand the time involved in building and maintaining a website and other web presence that supports your marketing with appropriate strategy. Know how central the online presence is to your business and what your customers expect, and in fact need, from you.
From experience I recognize businesses that after one to two years are pulling the hair out of their head. They have spent days on the Internet learning as much as they can about strategies and best practices only to find out their website has been hacked. Time spent on fixing glitches turned into a search for reliable web development companies to help them out.
If your need is a basic website to have more people call you up and to increase your credibility, a DIY website might be sufficient. However, if your web presence is integral to your marketing and sales strategy, consider hiring a web developer.
Hiring a Web Professional
A professional web designer and developer will guide you through the three main areas you have to understand: Internet strategy, design and web functionality. Business owners and all people with a purpose for going online must know their online target audience and main web competitors.
Perhaps the greatest timesaver is having the web developer take the mystery out of technology and train you on using strategies and best practices to generate sales. When the time comes for growth, the web develop can have your website grow with you with new capabilities and modified design.
There are also disadvantages to working with a professional:
- You may find it too expensive to invest, especially when you first start up a new business
- Slow turnaround time for small updates
- It takes time and effort to find the designer and developer that comprehends the various elements of a successful online presence
- When you are uncertain about your needs it is difficult explaining with potentially more costs because of adjustments
As a web professional I fully support the DIY world. I suggest utilizing a web professional for the critical part of strategic planning, securing installation and training of the platform. With proper guidance and training you create the right vision and are able to get your site up and running with all the best and safe practices.