Why a Website is not a DIY Project

So, you want a website. Or, maybe you have a website, but it’s not doing “it” for you. Whatever the reason is, you’re getting a new website, so congratulations! There are lots of website builders and YouTube videos online, so you may be tempted to take on the development of your website as a ‘pet project’. While some people do make this decision, you should be fully prepared for the true magnitude of this undertaking. Websites are a big job - even full-service agencies can be kept busy for months on some custom website projects. If you’re thinking about doing this yourself, you should consider the following…

 

1. Do you know what you want?

This is a question that a lot of people think they know the answer to, but not always to the right extent.

“Of course I do,” some say, “I want a website for my [company|hobby|blog].”

Websites can be very complicated. Knowing what you want one for, while valuable and a good start, just scratches the surface of website development.

A website, especially if it supports the core of your business, needs to be many things; intuitive, interesting, relevant..just to name a few. A professional development company employs analytics specialists to help ensure that users use your website the way you want them to and to draw clicks where you want them.

Perhaps you do know exactly what you want from your website and you’re ready to start doing it yourself.

...Are you?

 

Website Development Ideas

 

2. You’re probably underestimating it...

If you want to have a database of products or blog posts, you’re going to need to have a database engine and database management system running to store your data. You’re also going to need a web hosting service running to query the database and return content to your site. Lucky for you, Microsoft has tools to help you with all of that, available for free (if you’re using Windows), but you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time configuring your system and building a simple way to turn your web request into a database query, and back into a web response for you to see in a browser.

Maybe all of this has you thinking “I’ll just use WordPress, or Squarespace, or Drupal. There are so many options for me to do it myself, why should I get it professionally developed?”

 

3. So you don’t wear the same outfit as someone else

Services like WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal are good for someone who wants to throw together a site quickly and to start getting sales or hits as quickly as possible, but if you want to draw users in - and keep them - you need to “wow” them. You need a site that isn’t built off of templates. The best templates are used again and again to the point where many sites look the same, save for some colour or stock image tweaks. This bores users because they’ve had this same experience countless times over. Studies are showing that site visits aren’t the metric of success; it’s user retention. Unless your site profits solely from ad views, you need to make sure that when a user visits your site, they stay on your site.

Yeah, you can create your own templates in WordPress, but when you’re using widgets from several different publishers it’s completely up to you make sure your template works with what other developers have created. If you think you can take an existing template and edit it, quite often widgets and templates posted on sites like WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal are pumped out en masse to try sell as many as possible. This usually results in code that is not documented properly and is thrown together “so it works” instead of “so you can use it”.

Now, it’s very possible that you have ample experience with managing databases and designing your own templates. Maybe you’re even comfortable with customizing code so your widgets perform flawlessly. That’s a great skill set, but having the free time to make these tasks a regular part of your work day is another thing altogether. Hence, another reason to enlist a professional developer.

 

4. So you don’t have to worry about it

Websites don’t just need to be built - they need to be managed. The internet, in case you hadn’t noticed, is growing and changing constantly. Standards for security change constantly, software constantly needs updating, performance needs to be analyzed, the to-do list goes on indefinitely. As your business changes, you’ll also need to be updating site content, which involves SEO research and a whole world of other tasks.

It’s absolutely critical to be honest with yourself about whether you’re prepared to handle all of this. Chances are, your position involves its own set of responsibilities that will inevitably end up getting neglected once you take on the website. Furthermore, many of these skills are highly specialized, so while it may be tempting to assign them to your marketing coordinator or IT professional, some tasks are best left to someone with the time and knowledge to do it right. To put it in perspective; the moment you find out a breach has exposed the personal or financial details of hundreds of your customers is the wrong time to learn that your site’s security features aren’t up to snuff. 

 

5. So you can focus on everything else

Chances are, you aren’t dripping with extra time. You want to be able to ask questions about how your website is performing, and get insightful answers. You want to be able to enjoy the benefits your website affords you, without losing hours combing through code. You want to be able to manage all aspects of your business from a bird’s-eye view, and not get caught up in the sandbox of security features, database management and analytics.

And if someone is going to take care of all of that extra stuff for you, you want something else - experience. Experience in web development is the difference between hours spent Googling intermediate code, and minutes spent rattling it off like a second language. It’s the difference between reacting to crisis situations, and proactively finding better approaches. It’s the difference between bringing your vision to life, and building onto your vision to create something you never thought possible.

So, do you know what you want?

 

Need help finding the best option for your business? Contact Us! We're always happy to chat.

 

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