Building Your Own Business Website – Is It a Good Idea or Not?
So You Are Thinking About Building Your Own Business Website!
If you are thinking of building your own business website you need to keep this simple fact foremost on your mind: this is business! You are not dabbling on social media, you are not creating a personal blog; you are building a tool that will help you grow your business. And if you are serious about your business you will want the best possible tool, don’t you?
In 2017 any business without website is not in business; it gives the appearance of being out of business. Even worse, if you have a business website that does not meet the expectations of your target audience your business website can make you seem untrustworthy. If your business wants to stay competitive, you must have a professional looking business website. And building your own business website may not be the best option.
What You Need to Know About Building Your Own Business Website
Basic Considerations for Building Your Own Business Website
OK, you have decided that it’s time for your business to get a website. Now you have two options for building your own business website. If you only have a small budget and are not afraid to learn new technology, you can try to build your own business website. The other option is hiring a professional web designer or design agency that will work with you to build you a custom website.
At this stage you need to keep a few things in mind. Running a business means you have many things to do. But unless you are in the web design business building your own business website is not one of them! Keep in mind it will take you longer than you expect to simply learn the basics of web design and development. So you have to decide if you have what it takes to invest the time required and teach yourself how to code and design websites.
So, how much time you got?
Building a website is a huge time investment, especially for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience or technical skills in this area. Yes, the previews of those nice templates and website builders look great, don’t they? But getting your new business website to look even remotely like the samples takes a lot more effort and skill than many business owners believe.
Here is a little exercise for you: Imagine the most amount of time it will take you to build your own website. Then multiply that number by ten! (Your website may not be done yet, but many business owners give up in frustration at that time, if not before!) You see, building your own business website will take you longer than you think for a number of reasons.
First of all, there will be a learning curve. Learning takes time. Building your own business website most likely is not your priority. You will be distracted by other business matters. So before you know it this entire website project will have taken four months? 6 months? A year? If you hire someone it becomes their priority, not yours. Just saying …
Are you sure you know what you’re doing?
Personally, I’ve always wondered why so many business owners choose to focus their energy on building their own business websites when they have little or no knowledge or skills required for this. Usually business owners start without a plan or enough know-how quickly get overwhelmed and frustrated, and eventually just abandon the project. That’s usually better than some of the DIY efforts I have seen. You know, the ones with placeholder text and images.
98% of all DIY websites never launch at all!
As a business owner, you’re (hopefully) an expert in managing your own business. You know exactly what it takes to run, how to keep your customers coming back, and grow your business over time. And this is exactly where you end up providing the most value to your business, your team, and your existing and potential clients. Building your own business website is not one of those!
And all those pesky little details!
What most business owners don’t know is that designing your own business website is the easy part. Is in many cases the devil is in the details. Your website may look great on Chrome, but appears totally broken on Safari. You make a little change and all of a sudden something else is no longer working. And don’t you have better things to do than stare at a screen filled with endless lines of code all night?
Instead of wasting your valuable time learning how to code and building your own business website, you’re better off finding an experienced designer who can do a much better job, in less time, and for less money. Hiring a web designer will not only save you hours of frustration but will also likely result in a better, more effective website.
Should You Hire a Web Designer or Agency?
The most common reason business owners consider building their own website is the cost. Many really don’t know how much it actually costs to get a professionally designed site, and simply figure they don’t have the money. Or they have the money, but just don’t want to spend it on a website. I understand about being cost-conscious, but you have to look at your business website as an investment in your business.
Regardless if you decide to hire a freelancer or work with a web design agency there are a few things you can do to make sure building your own business website is as time and cost-efficient as possible.
First of all, make sure you consider all the essential elements of an effective business website. Not only will that help you answer any questions your web designer may have, but it will also help you avoid web design trends that may work against you.
There are ways you can get the most out of working with your web designer. And if you don’t have a web designer or agency here are some tips for hiring a professional web designer or agency.
If you are really worried about the cost I recommend hiring a freelancer and not an agency. Freelance web designers generally have a lower overhead and are less expensive than the typical web design agency. There are many talented web designers and developers who can build an amazing website for you for less than what a big agency would charge.
Keep in mind that freelance web designers may not have all the resources or offer all the services that a web design agency does. If you are simply looking for someone to build a quick simple website for your business that is fine. But if you are looking to get an e-commerce site, need help with content or SEO, or want ongoing support or maintenance an agency would be a better choice.
One way to find a good freelancer is to ask around and get recommendations from other businesses. Simply ask your business associates who designed their website, and if they would recommend that person. Take a look at websites you like and see who designed them. You can also look for web designers on Yelp and Craigslist (a word of caution about finding experienced web designers on Craigslist, but you may find a talented amateur) or by looking on small business networks like Townsquared.
You should select freelance designers based on their work history, their ratings and feedback they received from their earlier jobs. If at all possible ask for references that you can contact yourself. That way you will get some realistic expectations for working with a freelancer before you actually get started.
Working with a professional web design agency best if you have a more complex project, or need more than one service. While they are usually more expensive professional agencies can get work done faster, which ends up saving you money. Instead of Yelp or Craigslist you are more likely to find professional agencies on Clutch, Expertise, UpCity, LinkedIn or other professional networks.
Just like hiring a freelancer you should find out a bit about a web design agency before you engage them. Many agencies specialize in a certain type of client or project. Some only build e-commerce sites while others only work with large brands. No matter how awesome a web design agency has been for other clients, you need to feel comfortable working with them. Otherwise your project will not end well.
Should You Build Your Own Business Website?
There was a joke: “Can you jump off the Empire State Building? In theory yes, but in reality only once!” The same goes for building your own business website. In theory building your own business website is no problem, but in reality it most likely will not end well.
As the term implies, there is a design part to this whole web design business. And that is where building your own business website quickly goes wrong for most people. You see, design is not something you learn quickly. First of all, you need some inherent sense of what makes good design. If you have that you can master the basics of design. Once you master those you will begin to understand how to apply these design principles to a web design project.
Building your own business website without a good sense for design is a recipe for disaster. I am sure you have seen examples of these misguided efforts! Those neon colors, garish clip art, and Comic Sans Bold do etch themselves in your brain, don’t they? If you want an effective business website the design has to adapt to the required functionality, and both have to meet your audience expectations. To pull that off you need solid design skills.
If you insist on building your own business website yourself better get ready and prepare yourself. First you need to roll up your sleeves and teach yourself how to code and design. This may sound easy, but it is anything but. The tech and coding skills alone will take you some time to master. If you’re not comfortable around a computer or the Internet it will be even more of a daunting task. At the very least, you will need to learn the basics about website hosting, CSS, HTML.
And that’s just the beginning. If you want a more advanced website, perhaps one that looks great on your iPhone or with some fancy interactive effects, you need to learn about scripting and more advanced coding. So as you can see building your own business website gets pretty complicated.
Of course, there is an easier way. You can use a pre-made WordPress theme for building your own business website. Most web hosting providers will install WordPress for you for free or a nominal fee. After that you can install your WordPress theme yourself on your website, or have someone do it for you.
Installing a pre-made WordPress theme allows you to build your own business website without having to the beginning. Most WordPress themes have ready-made page layouts, and even feature complete website layouts for almost any need. With a few changes you can build your own business website that fits your needs.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
You may not be aware of this, but there are two different versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress. It is free, and really easy to use. But there are many limitations, which makes WordPress.com not a good option for building your own business website.
Actually downloading WordPress from WordPress.org and installing it on your host will allow you to create a fully scalable and customizable WordPress business website. That way your business website can grow along with your business. Find out more about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Another option you might want to consider is using a website builder. Website builders are online tools that help you create a website without coding skills, using drag and drop technology. Some popular website builders include Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify if you want to build an e-commerce site.
Most of these builders make it fairly easy to get started, and offer basic templates to choose from. But keep in mind that not all of them are intuitive to learn. Make sure that their available resources are enough to get you started before you decide! If you need a very basic website and don’t want to learn how to code, website builders might be a good option for you. But shop around as some website builders charge different fees based on usage.
Here are some review sites that compare top website builders:
- Authority Hacker – Best WordPress Page Builder
- Website Builders Reviews
- Digital.com Website Builder Reviews
- Websitesetup Best Website Builders 2017
- PC Mag Best Website Builders 2017
- In Search for the Best Website Builder: Wix vs Squarespace vs Weebly
If you have a small business, often a simple business website developed using one of these builders might be all you need. But as your business grows, you would be far better served to find an experienced designer who can create a more professional website for your business.
Is Building Your Own Business Website for You?
Personally I am not entirely in favor of building your own business website, unless you are a web designer, of course. I have seen far too many failed attempts at building your own business website. A business website has to provide real measurable and sustainable results. Look at it as a major investment in your business success. Wouldn’t you want a professional to handle that for you?
Based on my experience designing business websites for businesses of all types WordPress is the best choice when it comes to building your own business website. WordPress is well documented and provides an almost overwhelming choice of training resources. And because WordPress is so popular you are likely to find someone who speaks WordPress fluently right in your own neighborhood.
WordPress allows you to scale your website, migrate it to another hosting provider and add all types of plugins and extensions to expand your website functionality. By using pre-made WordPress themes you can cut the time and the cost of building your own business website. Of course, you still have to learn how to use WordPress and change your theme. My friend Bob Dunn from BobWP.com puts it this way:
WordPress is easy, once you know how to use it. (Bob Dunn, BobWP.com)
Next Steps for Building Your Own Business Website
No matter what you decide for building your own business website, always research and explore all your options to make sure your business website gets done right and in the most time and cost-efficient way. Check out some of the options I outlined and see if any of them meet your expectations and requirements.
If you have any questions about building your own business website please contact our highly caffeinated team. And if your business needs a clean, modern, responsive website, or if you want to redesign your business website, we’ll be happy to listen to you and discuss all your options. We are experts at building mobile-first business and e-commerce websites, plus we can help you with a whole bunch of other creative things.
My Two Cents
I have the utmost respect for business owners wanting to build their own website. And I am not trying to talk you out of it if you are really dead set on building your own business website. I know you are serious about your business. You have other professionals, like lawyers, accountants, bankers and consultants advise and guide you. If you want to succeed in the digital world I suggest you add a web designer to that list.
That way if you get stuck building your own website you know who to call right away!
Are you a business owner not sure about building your own business website? We would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below and one of us will get back to you as quickly as possible. Don’t forget to grab our feed so you don’t miss any updates. And help any business owners among your friends and associates by sharing this post with them.
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!