A website is as essential to your business as a phone number and a bank account. Businesses have three choices on how to make one. They can build it themselves, they can use a tool to build it for them, or they can hire a professional web design company to do it. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but we want to warn you about the dangers of doing it yourself and why using a site-builder might not be the best idea either.
Hand-building a site
There was a time where you could sit down with a book on HTML and bang out your own website. It would be a crude one, but it would contain all of the basic information. Times have changed though. Today there are many skills that web designers need to have to make a website that people will trust and that search engines will love.
Even if you use a CMS system like WordPress, it’s not easy. Which theme will you use? Will you need to tweak it? What plugins do you need to stay secure or to give it functions that aren’t built in? Will you have a blog or not? What if you can’t get your branding the way you want it to show on your site? And on and on…
Then there’s the matter of SEO. SEO is a set of techniques used by web designers and content creators to make web pages attractive to search engines. These techniques get your site listed under the correct search terms and help push your site higher in the rankings for those terms. This is an art unto itself, but there’s a technical side to SEO that falls squarely into the realm of site design and coding.
Making a good website isn’t something you can throw together in a weekend unless you’re making the simplest of sites with no e-commerce functionality. That’s why the whole profession of web design exists as a separate field. Unless you have someone on your team with experience in all this and is willing to be your full-time website maintainer, you do not want to try hand-building your site from scratch.
There are some companies that have made site design tools to simplify the process and let inexperienced businesses try their hand at making a site. But like hand-building your site, this approach also has significant downsides.
One big advantage of hand-building a site is that you have full control of the code. Barring any restrictions your ISP sets, you can do what you like and you can access it whenever you want. That’s because you own the hosting. But when you use a site-builder tool, they host the code. It does make things easier for the business, but you may not want to give up that control.
Second, your ability to do whatever you want with your site is gone when you use a site-builder. You’re limited to the tools they have. If you want to do something different, you might have to pay extra. You might not be able to do what you want at all. If the site builder does do everything you want, this might not be a concern, but there’s one final thing you need to know about.
We only recommend these tools for when you need to whip up something fast as a stop gap while you spend the time with a professional to make your real site. For all their downsides, these tools do have significant advantages over hand-building. Their themes are modern and will work on all devices, and they’ll have security updates built in.
Hiring a pro designer
Hiring a pro designer gives you the best of both worlds and a few other advantages besides. You won’t have to spend hours learning a language or how to use a site builder tool. They can handle all the messy coding parts and can give you great advice on modern web design and UX creation so you can make a site that looks beautiful and functions well.
Pro designers usually don’t host their client’s websites on their own servers so you can keep control of the code, though some do offer this service to create an all-in-one package. Whether this is acceptable to you will depend on your business and how much you trust the company, but it does remove a level of complexity.
Also, by using a professional you can ensure that your technical SEO fundamentals will be in place from the start. If you do it yourself, you could miss something important that will affect your rankings. Site-design tools sometimes have SEO features, but they may not have the latest ones or use an SEO approach that’s outdated.
Business owners may shy away at the cost of hiring a pro designer, but when you consider the amount of control, security, and reliability you get in exchange then it’s an easy decision. If you want to put your best face forward, go for the pro and throw away that huge HTML book.