5 Reasons you shouldn't build your own website
In the web business, I see this all the time. People are willing to put in a little bit of sweat in exchange for saving thousands on some expensive web construction firm. But there is a reason for everything. Think about how many young entrepreneurs want to make money. If building websites was easy, wouldn't they all drop everything and start building websites at half the price of the big firms?
The truth is, building a website is not easy if you don't know what you're doing. So here are the top 5 reasons you don't want to build your own website.
5 • How much money are you actually saving?
A simple 5 page website might cost you $2,500 with a small to medium sized web firm. That might sound like a lot of money. However, a firm like that will probably have your site delivered in under a month. How long would it take you to learn? If you're lucky and it only takes you 100 hours, then you have built it for $25/hour. But while you were busy doing that, you lost the revenue that you could have been earning by actually running your business!
So while you might have saved $2,500, you probably cost yourself more than that. But you still only have a simple website, what about design?
4 • You learned HTML, but how does it look?
A website is not just made up of HTML and a few images. It takes experience to build the design skills and software training that a real graphic designer will have. Not to insult your artistic abilities, but designing web pages is not like desiging print ads, video, or any other media really. This alone is a skillset that most web developers send to dedicated graphic designers who can make a site look good. And there is a big gap between amateurs and even lightly seasoned graphic designers.
But what if you are able to get a good design going, will it function?
3 • You have a website, but does it function?
Do you have a functional contact form? One that reminds people to put in their information before they submit? A form that makes sure a valid email address has been entered?
A site can't just look good, it has to funciton well. It has to provide a great user experience that makes it easy for users to find the information they are looking for, and to drive them to pick up the phone or fill out a form. If your forms aren't intuitive or don't prompt them to fix errors, you might end up with contact submissions that you can't follow up on.
2 • Is it secure?
You might not have a complicated site, so you're not worried about hackers getting in. But simple websites are usually the target for hackers and spammers. One day you have your new website up, the next day your home page has been converted to an ad for viagra and you're mailbox is relentlessly filling up with spam.
1 • Website are just a big pile of problems
Not bad problems, just problems that need to be solved. All of the points mentioned above are problems that need to be solved. You won't realize it going in, but once you have your simple site up, you're going to realize something is missing. Adding that little something is another problem that might take you another week to figure out. And once you have that one figured out, it's on to the next. Mobile optimization, SEO, tracking visitors, the list goes on.
So who do I hire?
Usually when I talk people down from the ledge of building their own websites, the next thing they do is ask about hiring someone on craigslist or from a college job board. This is the next big mistake. In short, they are going to quote you low - like a few hundred dollars. They are going to get started, only to realize it's a lot of work and they didn't ask for enough. You're going to start asking for extra features (all the problems that have to be solved) and they are going to have to invest a lot of time in figuring those out.
These types of developers aren't very business savvy, so instead of asking you for more money, they usually just disappear. You'll spend a lot of time calling them and never hear back. Maybe you didn't give them any money, or maybe you gave them a small deposit or milestone payment. Either way, you lost a lot of time, and you are going to have to start from scratch. I also see a lot of people go this route who get stuck locked out of their domains, which means you have to pay your new developer extra to try to figure out how to recover your domain name.