So you’ve finally made the decision – you need a new website. If that’s the case, you’re probably trying to figure out if you should hire a professional or try to go it alone. If you’re a small business or a tech savvy marketer, you’ve considered doing it yourself or maybe even decided to take the DIY website route. For some, this can be a great decision. For others – aka most – this can be a disaster.
The DIY Website Designer
Lately I’ve received a lot of emails and calls from people who ventured down the DIY website path only to find themselves going astray. They realized – once in the midst of the project – that the whole web design process is a bit more challenging than they originally realized. Many people believe a website is simply comprised of a logo, basic color scheme, and text. Heck that’s easy. So easy anyone can do it. Well, not so much. When website design is done correctly – I stress correctly – it involves a whole lot more than just text, colors, and a logo.
Our website development process includes a 90+ point project plan that is broken out into project kick-off, collection of client deliverables, research and planning, custom theme design, website build, and final optimization for search. This project plan is tracked electronically in a project management software package that manages tasks, owners, and due dates. I use software for this because it is a process. When done properly, the process takes a 6-8 weeks to complete all the tasks and make sure they are all performed properly. Yes folks, that means building a good website requires a lot more than whipping up your logo, throwing in some text, and picking some colors.
I’m not implying the non-web designers can’t create their own website. I’m stating the average DIY website creator has a full-time job other than website design and they do not have the time nor stamina to execute it properly.
But What About DIY Services Like Website Tonight?
How can that be? Companies like Intuit or GoDaddy offer packages like Website Tonight and promise to have your website up and running within minutes. Intuit’s landing page for this shows a case study for a website receiving a whopping 20 visitors a day. Yes I said 20 visitors. Isn’t that just fabulous?
So what’s the problem? Well first of all, real websites typically have more than five pages. And they don’t all look alike and they typically receive more than 20 visitors today. Everyone I’ve ever known who has used one of these services has a website that no one visits. Worse yet, if someone does manage to find it, the visitor bounces (quickly leaves) and the website generates zero leads, sales, or revenue. Why is this the case? Because these sites are built by people whose expertise is outside that of website design and because they DIY website builder does not know what SEO (search engine optimization) is or how to utilize it properly. The other reasons is people who go this route are in a hurry and they whip up the fastest website they can only to regret it months or years later.
The funniest part of the whole Website Tonight process is that GoDaddy has tried to sell me this service on multiple occasions. I’ve had to call the company before and virtually every time someone tries to pitch me this service. I have to cut them off in midsentence to explain I do this for a living, I’m a web designer by profession, and I don’t need a cookie cutter website that no one visits. Okay I don’t say the end part, but I think it in my head. It isn’t the customer service rep’s fault that they have to pitch this service to everyone they talk to, so I try to be polite.
Why Hire a Professional Web Designer?
There are plenty of reasons. A professional website designer will guide you through the process. He will explain why dancing gifs are inappropriate, why thunder sounds on the home page distract from the visitor experience, why Google can’t digest a flash website, and why SEO is critical to driving traffic. The professional web designer will teach you about design best practices and make sure these elements are used within the project.
And if your design firm is good, at some point within the project you’ll hate them because they will tell you your blog post is too “salesy”, your content doesn’t make sense to the average visitor, or that your images are not high resolution enough to use. And then at the end of the project you’ll love them, because you will have a website that is unique, easy to use, and easy to find.
But Isn’t WordPress for DIY Websites?
WordPress is hugely popular and it is a great CMS tool. I love it, because it can create beautiful websites that are loved by Google and Bing. What I hate about WordPress is it gives people a false sense of security. It makes you think you don’t need a professional. And in some cases you don’t. Some people just naturally think marketing, design, and psychology. Some people can actually create a great website all on their own. The problem is that these people are rare. They are few and far between.
What WordPress is exceptional at is empowering companies to maintain their own website. My suggestion to businesses who want to use WordPress is to hire a professional design firm to create a custom theme and help you get the website up and running. Then maintain it yourself in WordPress. Update your own content, add your own blog posts, and moderate your own comments. Just leave the plugins and design changes to the professional, because you’ll end up breaking the theme.
There are many design firms that only give clients limited access to WordPress. They do this to prevent clients from breaking their websites and themes and to limit support calls. I do not do this, but part of me wishes I did because people make changes and break stuff and never see the problems. They don’t notice that content boxes no longer align or links are broken because they are not professionals.
DIY Websites the Right Way
I applaud people who want to create their own websites. Heck I did it myself over a decade ago and it is how I got started in internet marketing. The problem is my website looked like I created it myself and it took years for me to “get it”. Most people and/or businesses don’t have years to wait for success. They need help and traffic and leads or sales now.
My suggestion to those who want to create a DIY website is to hire a professional to get your started with the design, SEO, and build out. Once you have a solid foundation and a strong website architecture in place, manage it yourself and be autonomous.
If you really have a tight budget and you have no choice but to launch into DIY project mode, pick a solid premium WordPress theme from a reputable WordPress developer.
My very first theme came from StudioPress and I believe in their products and their support. So much so, we only create themes based on their Genesis framework. You can also visit our premium theme store and pick one of our premium WordPress themes.
If you like one of our themes or a StudioPress theme, we’re happy to help install and/or customize it for you. You give us your wish list and we’ll promptly turn around a quote for customizing a Genesis theme.