Time Savings vs. Cost Savings
The first matter a site owner has to assess is the value of their time. It must be a thorough and honest assessment. Like most new small businesses, most new websites aren’t turning a profit and have to manage on a limited budget. In this scenario, you might have to invest your own time into designing the website yourself. On the other hand, if you have a good-paying primary job, then hiring a professional web designer frees up the time to earn more capital.
Complete Creative Power
When hiring a professional, you do make some sacrifices; one of the most glaring is the loss of creative control. Many people enter into a website project with a very specific vision. That vision will change as it is filtered through other people. The designer follows your instructions, but there will always be, at least a little, disconnect between your visualization and the final product.
The Burden of Creativity
On the flipside, the requirement to be creative can be a real burden, a worry that most first-time web builders aren’t prepared for. The professionals do this for a living. The idea of creating something truly unique is what drives the good ones. They also have support and resources to contend with creative block.
The Importance of Brand and Niche
Niche and brand are the life words of business on the Web. The niche is the site target, and the brand is the memorable impression associated with the site. Both of these factors are vital, yet many amateur webmasters don’t appreciate them and don’t understand how they matter to the overall design.
Unprofessional Websites Are Obvious
Even more fundamental than brand is professionalism. Visitors will identify amateurism immediately, and that will alter their perception of the experience. Enjoyable blogs can overcome this, but businesses that sell a product or a service cannot. Consumers want confidence; a skillful site helps provide it.
A Strong User Interface Is Imperative
The biggest mistake do-it-yourselfers make is not creating a user interface that is accessible and intuitive. This is particularly true concerning navigation. If a visitor struggles to find what they want they will simply move onto another website. Proper navigation not only converts loyal readers, it leads them in a way that is most profitable for the website overall.
Design Skills and Experience
Many new site owners will enter the process with various web skills that they can build on. A complete beginner, on the other hand, will face significant obstacles. Learning web skills is relatively easy. Learning enough to facilitate an entire professional web design is both challenging and time intensive. If the newbie is going to learn on the job, then they should do it with a framework in place. The framework can be professional design, or it can be an alternative, such as a template or web builder.
The Website Builder Alternative
There are DIY solutions that lessen the burden. One of the best and most popular is the website builder. A builder is software, generally web based, that lets you create in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment. A big advantage to builders is that they include professionally optimized templates and other aspects. It’s essentially an already existing professional design that just requires you to fill in the details. For many new website admins, this is a perfect compromise between DIY and professional design. It saves both time and money, and most webhosts include a web builder for free with even their most basic hosting packages.
Content Management Systems
A content management system (CMS) is essentially a sophisticated template, and they are perfect for solo webmasters and small web teams that would rather focus on content than design. A popular example of a CMS is WordPress. WordPress began as a blogging platform but is now a robust CMS that works well for larger sites. Customization is simple plug and play, and thanks to its thriving community, there are many themes and plugins available for free.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital component of any website, and strong SEO will account for the vast majority of a site’s new traffic. SEO is an art as much as it is a science, and it can be a difficult facet for the new webmaster to master. A great advantage of a professional designer and even a CMS or website builder is that they include an emphasis on SEO from the template level. Applying good SEO practices after the fact can be difficult and expensive.
The Evolution of the Website
Another factor you must keep in mind when choosing between professional designers and doing it yourself is the evolution of the site. With success comes growth. With growth come greater responsibilities and needs. There is also the evolution of technology in general. As new web technologies and techniques become available, you’ll likely want to incorporate them. This evolution is much easier and less expensive when you have an object-oriented design in place from the start. Simple newbie mistakes and inefficiencies now can end up being major hassles and expenses in the future.
The Inexpensive Freelancer
Consider that professional web design doesn’t have to be a major at-once expense or a long-term commitment. Freelancers are a cost-effective way to achieve pro web design. Note that it does require you to coordinate the freelancers and ensure consistency. Nevertheless, that is a much less time-intensive commitment than it would be for one person creating an entire website.
Hosting and Domain Name
The domain name is a critical aspect of brand. Choose wisely and be willing to pay for additional extensions, such as Biz and Mobi. When you choose a host, make sure to choose one that is flexible enough to grow with your site. Avoid long-term deals that lock you in. One benefit of choosing to go with a professional web design company is that their services often includes hosting and domain registration for free or at reduced rate. However, as the rates for these services continue to fall that benefit becomes less attractive.
When it comes to doing it yourself or hiring a professional, there is no easy decision. Take your time and consider the entire prospect, short and long term. The most important step is making solid design choices: the right niche, a valuable brand, proper SEO, strong navigation and so forth. Doing it yourself is of course a good way of saving money but it’s only worth it if you know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to pay for help if that’s what’s necessary to create a professional website. In the end what matters is that you get/create a website that appeals to your visitors. Without them your site is worth nothing.