What’s The Best Way to Build a Website? – (Part 2 of 3)

by Sherryl Perry on April 1, 2010

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We’ve all seen poorly designed websites. Some are obviously do-it-yourself attempts and others are honest efforts by someone who’s dabbled in a little code. Still others are built using free website builders that are offered by website hosting companies or built using a website template.

Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

Depending on your budget, your needs and your time frame, you may choose to work with a professional website designer or you could try to create your website yourself. I say “try” because depending upon your technical skills, the complexity of your website and the amount of time you have, it may not be the best choice for you.

Assuming that you’re probably looking for the most effective and cost-efficient way to get your website built and launched, I’ll briefly discuss some of the pros and cons for 3 of the most popular options.

#1 – Build Your Website Yourself:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – Even if you use a program to generate the HTML code for you, can you maintain it? If the code “breaks”, can you fix it? Do you know how to set up a test environment and troubleshoot changes?
  • Creativity – Do you have the skills to create eye-catching graphics? Do you know how to resize photos and optimize them to load quickly? Can you design an attractive, professional looking site?
  • Flash and JavaScript Programming – Would your website be more attractive to your target customers if it had animation? Will you need small popup windows? Would a Flash presentation help persuade visitors to buy your product?
  • CGI and Database Programming – Do you want your site configured so that the results from a contact form or survey are emailed directly to you? Do you want to offer live help to your web visitors?

#2 – Using a Website “Builder” or Template to Create Your Website:

  • Free – Many website hosting companies offer free website builders that you can use in exchange for hosting your site with them. If you go this route, make sure that if you decide to host with another vendor that you can move your website. In many cases, you can’t. This would mean that you would have to rebuild your site if you ever wanted/needed to host it elsewhere.
  • Advantages – Generally, website builders are easy to learn and easy to use. They can be a perfectly appropriate solution for you if you only need a small website without a lot of bells and whistles.
  • Templates – Many website builders include ready-made website templates that you can customize.  It should be relatively easy to change colors and fonts while keeping the main structure and navigation menus in place. There are limits to what you can change. Several vendors license the rights to use website templates. There are also free templates to choose from. Be sure to read the license agreements.
  • Branding – One of the most important/ critical elements in building a successful business is your brand. Your domain name is a major branding element. If someone offers to host your site for free, make sure that your site will be hosted under your domain name. That is, you want your potential customers to go directly to www.YourBusiness.com and NOT a sub-directory of your hosting company.

#3 – Hire a Professional Website Designer:

  • Budget – Don’t necessarily rule out hiring a professional website designer because you don’t have a big budget. Think of your website as an investment. It is going to be your virtual storefront. You may not be able to afford to do business with a high-end design firm but you should be able to find a reputable designer that you can work with.
  • Time – Time is definitely money. If you don’t already have the skills to build a professional looking website, is now really the time to learn? I’m not talking about a website to share family photos here. I’m talking about the backbone of your Internet presence. Just ask yourself if this is the best use of your time.
  • Flexibility – Do you really need a totally unique site or could you benefit from a site that starts out as a template but is customized to be part of your brand? This option could definitely help you to maintain costs while still utilizing the skills and knowledge of a professional designer.
  • Complexity – If you need a complex website that requires a database of customer information and/or a secure shopping cart, you should seriously consider hiring a professional website designer. With all of the security breaches we read about nowadays, many states are implementing laws (along with serious fines) to ensure that data you  collect is secure. Some things are best left to the professionals.

Any of these options could possibly work for you. Factor in your budget, your time-frame and what you need your website to be. Regardless of which route you choose to go, you absolutely need to keep in mind who you’re building your website for. You cannot lose sight of your target customer, the need you are fulfilling and why customers will want to buy from you. Keep in mind that there’s nothing that will lose an online sale quicker than an unattractive, unprofessional looking website.

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Kaloyan Banev
Twitter:
May 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Opne point, that usually everybody is missing – maintenance cost. Unless it is DIY operation, there is always maintenance cost for every web design project.
Practically web development is not one time job.
Kaloyan Banev recently posted..Grow your Network Through CrowdfundingMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
May 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

That’s a great point Kaloyan. Even WordPress sites need to be maintained. Something as simple as not updating plugins can put a site at risk of being hacked. Thanks for adding that!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..What Blogging Tips Are You Missing?My Profile

Jeff
Twitter:
December 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Sherryl – Right, not everyone can do this. It’s one of those cost of doing business investments. I wish when I started on the web a decade ago I hired a pro, instead of wasting time rebuilding sites over and over. A lot of lost time, opportunity cost and conversions.

Keep up the good work!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

Looking at you website as a cost of doing business is a great recommendation Jeff. It is an investment. Thanks for letting me know you liked the article. I hope reading it and comments like yours helps someone make the right decision for them.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Could Your Business Survive if Something Happened to You?My Profile

Jeff
Twitter:
December 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hiring a pro is usually the best way to go.

Building your own seems like a good idea in the beginning, but usually come back to bite you later in the game.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Jeff, I agree that if at all possible, hiring a pro is the way to go. Not everyone can afford to do that but there are costs to building your own site. Unless you have the skills (or can easily acquire them) there’s the investment of your time, lost opportunity (it will take longer than you expect) and the added risk that the resulting site will reflect poorly on your business. Thanks for weighing in on this.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress BlogMy Profile

Astro Gremlin December 15, 2011 at 1:50 am

Sherryl, I think it’s better to build your own with WordPress. You learn a lot, and even if it’s not perfect, it’s yours.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I don’t agree that it’s always better to build your own website. It all comes down to your skill set. A poorly designed site (or one with misspelled words and grammatical errors) can actually cause more harm to a person’s reputation than any potential good that would come from it. I also believe that some “do-it-yourselfers” waste an inordinate amount of time trying to save money by building their own site. That time is lost opportunity. If someone could make more money doing something else than acquiring a new skill set, it may make sense for them to hire a professional.

As long as you self-host your WordPress site, the content is all yours. The issue is that if you create a WordPress site on WordPress.com or Blogger.com, then someone else has control over your site and could shut you down.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress BlogMy Profile

Vinfotech July 19, 2011 at 1:36 am

Very well explained Sherrlyn.The website designing should follow all the above mentioned levels to make it most effective.The professional is as important as the language being accomplished.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed my article. I appreciate the feedback.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..6 Reasons to NOT Build a WebsiteMy Profile

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