You need a website. Why not do it yourself?

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So you thought you’d find out more and googled do it yourself websites. From a commercial for WIX.com – “You need a website. Why not do it yourself?” and their home page says “Wix unites beauty and advanced technology to create your stunning website. It’s easy and free.” First I want to say that WIX, among others, does full a useful and needed niche on the internet. But I want to help business owners become informed about how services like theirs fit the small business owner.

So let’s answer the question “Why not DIY?”

First there does seem to be several reasons to support a do-it-yourself approach:

  • You’re in complete control and you get to do it like you want it, for free!
  • It’s not really that hard to make a website with drag-and-drop.
  • Websites built by a designer are out of your reach and way too expensive.
  • Since it’s just your labor, it costs a lot less out of your pocket.
  • The results are beautiful, just like the commercials you’ve seen.

But, there are plenty of reasons to NOT do it yourself:

  • “You’re in complete control and you get to do it like you want it, for free!” Right? If you’re in complete control, you’re probably also completely alone. And there’s mountains of advice (good and bad) on how to put your website together. Who do you trust? Can you read all those articles of advice? Who’s there to point out potential problems, design flaws and help you with technical hiccups?
  • Do you have a detailed plan on what the website is supposed to do? Do you know how to achieve those goals? Implement them?
  • How well do you know your ideal customer? Are you making a website that appeals to you or them? Do you have marketing materials or customer personas to guide you?
  • We often hear, “It’s not really that hard to make a website with drag-and-drop,” but there are thousands of techniques, checks and balances, do’s and don’ts to make a website work well. Not work fabulously, but just work well. This is your branding, is a free web builder a good fit?
  • The misconceptions that, “it’s just labor, so it costs a lot less out of my pocket to DIY,”  OR “Websites built by a designer are out of reach and too expensive. So I have no other option.” But your time is valuable. How much of your time can you afford to put into building your website? Do you have time to learn how to use a web builder? The cost of a learning-curve is steep! Not to mention, you need time to keep your website up to date, protected from hackers, backed up, etc.? You could hire an employee or intern to manage your site, but what will that cost you? A minimum wage, part-time employee in Arizona will cost your over $10,000 per year. That is not saving your budget.

It’s not ALL ABOUT LOOKS:

  • Are you aware that most web builder systems offered by the web hosting companies have serious drawbacks? Bloated code that is not very friendly to the search engines. Barriers to make you think twice about moving to another web hosting company. And more…
  • How free is it? If your website displays ads for advertisers that take visitors from your website. Remember that they pay the hosting company, not you.
  • What about those “Free” templates from the hosting company? How many other websites do you want your website to look like?
  • Drag-and-drop is not limited to Wix and the other hosted web builders out there. Joomla and WordPress have these too.
  • When (not if) your site gets hacked what are you going to do? Start over from scratch or call someone? IF you restore from a backup, did you fix the vulnerability that let the hacker in, in the first place? What do you do when it happens a second, third or fourth time?
  • Have you identified the demographics of your audience? Who are your ideal customers? What do they want from your website?
  • What about the off-site social media stuff to bring more attention to your website? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, FourSquare, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vimeo, Instagram, Flickr and RSS Feed to name a few.
  • Regarding Social Media, do you know what the difference is between Like, Share and Follow?
  • Do you need to use all of them? Which ones are a must use because of your audience? Are you ready to add like and follow buttons in the best locations of your website?
  • Do you know the rules and best practices for setting up each social media account correctly so you’re not penalized?
  • Are you ready to keep up with the ever-changing rules of SEO? If your website gets blacklisted, how do you get back in the good graces of the search engines?
  • Are you a designer? Do you understand the do’s and don’ts of design, of web design and the user experience (UX)?
  • What components do you require for your website? A scalable photo gallery? A chat room? A web-log? Classified Ads? A map that site visitors can use to find you? A subscribe system? Social Media buttons?
  • Is a shopping cart a good idea? Shopping carts are complicated enough that many web designers will try to tell you to just do a PayPal button. Do you know how to comply with PCI DSS requirements? Are you prepared to risk being fined for non-compliance?
  • Would you like to take payments using the same merchant account via your cell phone and your website? Do you know how to do that?
  • What is your budget? When should you throw in the towel and hire someone?

There are a lot of web designers and developers that would hate me for what I’m telling you here. Save your money and time. Save yourself a boat load of frustration. Choose one of these two approaches to getting on the web:

  1. Build it a little at a time.  Low risk. Use Wix to make a simple one page site for free. Make sure you describe what you’re offering and include how to contact you, no more than that. That’s enough for now. Then write out your plan for a real working website and social media. While your business moves forward and you revise and adjust the plan for your real website, regularly put some money aside for a website built by a professional.
  2. Build it now. More risk. Write out your plan for a real working website and the social media. Put those plans into your business plan. Then get an investor or a loan to fund your well planned web project.

If you’re ready to plan your website, we have a free 16 minute video to help you get started.

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About the Author:

Kerry is the lead website builder at and founder of SonFisher Web Studios in Phoenix Arizona. He enjoys having an empty nest and being married to his wonderful wife since 1976. He started out, in 1995, using a text editor to write HTML & CSS pages, in 2011 he began using Joomla, and soon defected to WordPress. If you want to grow your business, he’s your guy. You can find him on LinkedIn and SonFisher.com.

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