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DIY website Or Professional website designer? Making the best choice.

As a small business owner, the question of whether to you should do a DIY website versus hiring a pro is often a dilemma. How much should you spend? What kind of website platform should you select?

So many questions and no straight answers because the answer is always “it depends”…

  • Websites should be a key asset in your marketing plan. This means they require some strategic thinking before deciding what, who and how much.

This article will address the key question of DIY website and working it out for yourself or hire a web developer.  We also look at what other experts you may need.

The DIY website vs Pro building decision matrix

It all starts with understanding what you need the website to do,  how much your budget is and what your skill set looks like.

The following is a list of the key website builders, what their functionality suits, costs and other notes to help you decide which one is good for you.

WordPress

Considerations

  • Requires some technical knowledge and comfort with learning new technology

  • Very flexible for long-term growth and expanding with new functionality

  • Has a huge market of ‘plugins’ to customise your website with additional capabilities

  • Needs attention to the site setup to be technically compliant for SEO

  • May need design help to get the look and feel you want

  • Requires ongoing costs related to updates and security patches. Developers will typically want a monthly retainer to help with these things

  • There will be hosting associated with your website

  • If you are not familiar with websites, this is not a good choice for the DIY website approach

Cost items

  • Template, unless using a free on

  • Plugins if required

  • Web developer (if not doing yourself)

  • Web designer (if you feel it's needed for the right look and feel

  • Annual hosting costs

  • Ongoing maintenance, support and patch updates from a web developer if not managing yourself

  • A good quality, well-designed site that is search-optimised will cost at least $1000 and up

Squarespace

Considerations

  • Easy to learn for yourself so makes it a good choice for the DIY website approach

  • Excellent design templates to help you create a professional website

  • Flexibility to do eCommerce or integrate with booking systems or forms for lead magnets

  • Fully hosted and no need to worry about technical or security upgrades

  • Great entry-level solution

  • A community of Squarespace experts is available if you end up wanting someone to build it yourself. Expect to pay similar to a WordPress website

Cost items

  • Subscription cost starts at AU$22 per month

  • Discount available for an annual subscription

Wix

Considerations

  • Easy to learn and offer low-cost entry points - a good choice for the DIY website approach

  • Not as well optimised for search

Cost items

  • Wix AU$15 per month

  • Discount available for an annual subscription
  • Free versions are available with cut-back features available

Shopify

Considerations

  • Dedicated Ecommerce only and depending on your technical skill, can be a DIY website option

  • Well-optimised for search – the key is making sure the descriptions of your product listings are aligned to the keywords being searched

  • Easy to create yourself, but those not technically savvy will find it a challenge to do more than the basics and the look and feel may be less than professional.

    Recommend you take advantage of the free trial to determine if the DIY website approach is good for you. Don't forget you can do the bulk of the work and then hire a developer to fix any issues you've run into.

  • Easy to integrate with key platforms like Facebook's catalogue for tagging your products in FB and Instagram posts and shopping listings on Google.

Cost items

  • AU$56 per month

OTHER COSTS TO BE CONSIDERED AS A DIY WEBSITE?

Website Developer

  • Are you technically capable of building your own?

  • If you have complex and custom requirements, a website developer will be required

  • If search is a critical component of your marketing strategy and you have decided to use WordPress, then an experienced developer with SEO experience is worth their price in gold in the long run.

  • Some developers are good at design but not technically trained. This Website check and briefing document  provides a step-by-step on how to assess your web developer

  • Understand that a website developer is usually a long-term relationship.

Website designer

  • Often the terms website developer and designer are used interchangeably. The key difference is that tone is focused on the design and the other is technically minded. Be sure you are clear on their strengths before you engage.

  • A website designer is often needed when you want a branded and polished and distinct look and feel. If you decide to do a DIY website, you could use a designer to help you with the look and feel.

  • If you are building on WordPress, a designer can help with making sure the site looks slick and aligned to your website

  • A website designer is not a developer. Sometimes they cross over, but if you have other strong technical requirements like customisation or search optimisation, you must be wary that you are not engaging a designer/ developer with 'light on' technical skills.

Content writer

  • Words sell, and if you don't put effort into getting this right, your website may not deliver results

  • If you need a site firmly focused on search, then the content is critical.

  • Content not aligned to the right keywords and structured correctly on the page will not deliver the results. Underestimate the impact of the right words on a website.

  • If you are not confident with your content writing skills for your DIY website, then you might consider buying in this skill set.

Keyword analysis/strategy

  • If search / SEO is important for your DIY website, then you will need to either invest the time in learning how to do a keyword strategy and apply it to the site or buy in the skills.
  • Your content writer or developer may be able to also provide the search keyword analysis as part of writing content that will help your site rank

  • Keyword research and aligning your content should be done as part of the writing stage and can influence what content and structure of your site eg. dedicated pages to certain topics or keywords.

Website hosting

  • This is only applicable if you choose a WordPress site for your DIY website

  • You must have a 'server' that will store and make your website available to everyone

  • Low-cost hosting may result in a slow website which will negatively impact your ability to rank well on search (i.e. speed to load a website is vitally important to the search engines, i.e. Google).

Photography

  • If you are selling products, great photography is key to helping make the sale

  • If you are building a brand, a professional photoshoot can be good for getting your website's right look and professional feel.

  • Can help you stand out and avoid the overuse of stock shots.

Domain registration

  • Purchase URL to align to your website eg. www.yourcompanyname.com.au regardless of whether you are doing a DIY website or hiring a developer

  • Will need to direct this to your website when it's ready

  • It can be complex, and you may need technical assistance if you are not using a platform such as Wix or Squarespace that makes this very easy.

If you need more help here are some additional resources that may help:

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