“I can build the website myself!” and other famous last words…
Nowadays, with so many do-it-yourself services like Wix, Squarespace, Websitebuilder and a host of others, it’s easy to think “hey I can save a few bucks and build it myself.” This is an easy trap to fall into, and there are some serious things to consider before you commit to doing it yourself.
The internet is filled with millions of “dead” websites that the owners have given up on or failed to maintain. Everybody starts with good intentions, but to rise to the top you need to be committed to a long term plan and know how to implement it. Read on for a reality check on building your own website.
Many would-be do-it-yourself enthusiasts simply do not realize the amount of time it takes to build and maintain a proper website. This is because many people think that you can built it, upload it and forget it. This is rarely ever the case. A website needs to be maintained on a number of different levels in order for it to be successful. The reason for this necessary maintenance is because search engines like google place more value in a website that is maintained regularly, assuming that it offers a better experience for it’s users – and it does. If google sees your page as providing a better user experience then it will place it higher in the search results.
Part of web maintenance involves regularly updating content. This can be done either through a blog, like this one, or adding photo, video or other interesting content to your page. Whatever route you choose you have to do it fairly regularly and this will also take a lot of time to implement.
Social media is also more important than ever, and many websites are now designed to work along with and integrate into a comprehensive social media campaign. As a business owner, do you have time to maintain a successful Facebook Page? Do you have an employee that can handle the task, and are you going to pay them overtime to do it? The do-it-yourself services don’t tell you this when you sign up, and they certainly won’t maintain your Facebook page for you.
Websites today are so much more complicated than in the past. Many of today’s websites work best only with the addition of third-party scripts, templates and social media add-ons. Integrating all of these extra systems into your website can lead to a nightmare of confusing html and css to keep track of, and getting these outside programs to work properly on your own website can be a frustrating and time consuming process all on it’s own.
Remember, your friendly neighborhood web designer already has all these expensive programs and has spend many years learning how to use them.
Site optimization is another important part of web design and maintenance. The do-it-yourself services also don’t mention this important aspect of your website. Pages need to load fast and in the correct order. Do you know what image optimization is, and do you have the proper software to handle this task? Running images on your site that are not optimized and properly identified likely will get you penalized on google, or even worse, banned!
The Search Engine Game
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects to website design and maintenance is undoubtedly search engine optimization or SEO. This is also something that doesn’t come with your do-it-yourself solutions. SEO involves many different disciplines and takes many years to learn and many more years to master.
If the site is not built from the ground up with SEO in mind, it is very hard to go back later and fix it so that it is. Everything has to be just right, from your keywords to your meta tags to your titles and alt tags. Content has to be written with all this in mind, so the words you choose and the frequency in which you use them has to be precise. Writing easy to understand copy (copy writing) that also appeals to search engines is an art form in itself.
Proper SEO takes a decent amount of time, and if you don’t have the knowledge it takes even more time to learn. Do you have time in your busy schedule to worry about impressions and SERPs and keywords and all the other things that make up SEO? If not, your website will never be visited and will join the millions of other sites in the vast graveyard of “dead” sites.
Another thing people grossly underestimate is the amount of research it takes to build a successful website. You have to do market research, competitor research, keyword research, product research, research into various third party platforms and applications and choose which approach is best. All this research can be exhausting, and if you don’t have the time or patience to put into it, all your other good intentions and efforts may be for naught.
Chances are you are doing research right now by reading this article. How much time have you , or will you spend on researching building a website? Do you want to spend many more hours reading endless technical articles and how-to guides? In my daily work I use more than 20 very expensive, very learning intensive programs in order to provide a top level of service to my customers. Most people don’t have the patience or the financial resources to invest in acquiring and learning all these programs. Remember, your friendly neighborhood web designer already has all these programs and has spend many years learning how to use them.
Yes there are a number of sites and services you can use to build your own website, and with a lot of time, patience and perseverance you very well may be able to create your own successful website. The question is… do you have the time and patience to pull it off? Most business owners don’t, and find their time and energy can be better spent on areas they are experts in, instead of wading through the endless learning curve that web development represents. Let your web designer and their years of research and trial and error handle this for you. In the end, you will save time, money and actually have a website that works for you.
If you would like to talk to me about designing your website, please use this handy form. I look forward to helping you achieve your internet dreams.
If you still want to tackle this job on your own, why not have a consulting session with me first so that you can avoid many of the pitfalls of designing your own website.