A lot of recent press has been given to DIY (do it yourself) website platforms. Just last week I read an article in our local paper about how Intuit has partnered with Google to offer “free” websites to small businesses. This might be a great opportunity for the 50-percent of small businesses in Northeast Ohio without a web presence. BUT … most people don’t realize that these websites aren’t really as “do it yourself” as they claim to be.
Like any specialized practice, designing and developing business websites requires specific knowledge and expertise. A professional designer has to have those skills — just to stay in business. You might have a couple tech skills and an interest in design, but think about it. How confident do you feel about the prospect of putting together a website? … Beyond that, is it worth all your effort and risk?
Good design is a skill.
Designing a well thought out, functional website isn’t as easy as you think — even with a visual editing tool like those found online. Did you know that websites look different when viewed with different browsers? … How do you plan to deal with that issue? What if you follow every instruction and spend hours trying to get your PayPal button working … only to have it produce an error message? Did you know that you can (and should) have a custom website JUST for mobile devices?
And these questions don’t even scratch the surface of custom functionality, like: adding animation, setting up a shopping cart, creating smooth transitions on your rollovers, etc. All of these things require the expertise of a professional web developer. Someone who has spent years in school learning about web technology and who is constantly keeping up with new web tricks and trends. I don’t know any small business owner who has time to do all of that — and run a profitable business.
Appearance is everything.
Maybe you set up a personal blog or your own MySpace page a few years ago without too much trouble. Creating a website shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Before you start, take a look at your competitors’ sites. The wonderful world of web looks a lot different than it did even 5 years ago. Reality is, the internet has changed — and so have the skills needed to build a website.
As a business owner, you need to make sure your website (and business) is the one prospects, customers and/or clients remember. And it should be for the right reasons. You want people to remember your site as easy to navigate, informational and attractive. These opinions really can dictate the overall success of your brand.
The truth is, with a lot of reading and research… a lot of trial and error… and an exponential amount of time and effort, you could probably build a workable website that doesn’t look completely awful. But ask yourself — is it really worth all the time and work you would have to put into it?
Your time is best spent doing what you do best — running your business. So maybe the best business decision is to hire a professional web developer to create your website. It may not be as expensive as you think, and it will definitely save you some “do it yourself” aggravation.