When should I use a DIY website builder?

The professional services industry in many cases has a DIY website, app or tool for almost anything I can think of these days.  That includes building websites of course, the topic of this post.

DIY Website BuildersAs a website services professional, it’s obviously not in my best interest to tell potential website clients that it makes more sense to use a website builder tool.  However, sometimes it does make sense.  So that answer is…it just depends.

I’m going to try and help people who are on the fence about whether or not to attempt building their own website with one of these tools.  You have no doubt by now seen the countless and repetitive ads if you are on YouTube for any length of time.

They go something like this.  “You need a website.  Why not build it yourself?”  Here are a few reasons why you may (or may not) want to take a stab at building that site yourself.

DIY Site Builder Considerations

1) You don’t have the budget to pay a professional….yet. 

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but a great place to start if you simply don’t have the money to partner with a web services consultant.  It kind of dictates the decision and makes it an easy one for most small businesses operating on a shoestring budget.  Even if your business takes off over the next year or two, perhaps you don’t have the funds right now (or what start up funds you do have will be allocated elsewhere.)

In this scenario, you really may not have a choice but to use a website builder tool to get your site up and running.  If it’s a decision between $500-$1,000 for professional help on a small website OR $11 per month with no additional outlay upfront for a DIY builder tool (other than your personal time and sweat equity), that might be an easy call for you to make and a very logical one.

2) You won’t actually use your website effectively to attract new business. 

Will your business website be a money maker, generating new leads regularly?  Or, will it look like a run down ghost town a few months or years in?  Generally speaking, an $11/month website does not typically inspire energy and innovation from its owner over time.

Website Ghost Town!Some businesses see a website as an ongoing expense.  Others value their sites as valuable ASSETS that will work 24/7 to return money above and beyond the build investment over time.

If you view and treat your business website as a static online brochure with no regular plan to promote, attract or convert leads into new business regularly, then it will most certainly be viewed as a necessary but useless expense.

In this case, you really will be better off sticking with the lowest cost solution on the market.

The real value in working with an experience professional comes more with the best practices implemented within that website build that only come with experience.  In most cases, the technical portion (the actual building of HTML, scripts, etc) of a website project has been solved with DIY solutions.

What colors and imagery work best with what layouts, and what about the copy?  Is the page designed to convert?  Is there an optimized content theme that will capture a target visitor with organic search and convert them for future email marketing follow up?

A well thought out website SHOULD bring new business and new leads.  It should act as an extra sales person on your staff (even if you have no staff.)  If it’s not planned properly to do this, then it is in fact, little more than a necessary and ongoing expense (expensive brochure over time.)

3) You don’t have time to build a website because you are busy running your business. 

This one seems obvious to some, not so much to others.  However, what is your time worth in the early days of your business (and in general of course)?

Even a small but remotely thoughtful site (anything aside from the most basic blog) can take a professional anywhere from 6-8 hours on average.  Notice I said ‘thoughtful’ because a business website really should not amount to throwing some pages together as quickly as possible (though some may look this way) just to check the task off a list.

So, given all the other things that you need to do in your business, do you really need to be learning how to build a website regardless of its effectiveness?  The answer again might be “maybe” for some, but this should be another point for consideration with a DIY solution.

4) Your own self hosted website built by a professional upfront may actually cost you less in the long run. 

You’ll likely pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for a small site up front with professional help, but that could include extras that are not available in a site builder tool without upgrading your monthly package upwards of $25 to $40, even $50/month depending on the provider and the plan.

Website InvestmentA $49/month DIY plan that covers fairly basic but “extra” features in their platform can often bump the monthly fee up from the advertised price.  These features do not require a lifetime rental payment when you build your own site.  They would all be covered in that upfront project price with a professional.

Indeed, IF you need to upgrade for any reason, you could be paying almost $600/year with some popular DIY platforms.  That’s around $3,000 over 5 years (and it doesn’t stop there obviously….by year 8 you’ll have almost $5k in your site even if you never touch it again after the initial build.)

And, you’ll be paying for those upgrades for as long as the site is online unless moved from that DIY platform.

For instance, do you need your customers to be able to search your website?  Maybe you’d like a video background on your page or HD video gallery, even audio testimonials.  Perhaps at some point you’ll need a password protected page or portion of your site, maybe membership registration or a forum?  What if you want a chat feature or the ability to add more than 10-20 pages over time?  By the way, that fourth product you just added to your DIY site in 4 amazing colors just bumped you over your plan product skew limit.

These are all things to consider so again, it just depends on your needs and if you’ll realistically every grow your site to better serve your customers at some point.  Be sure to consider all the ins and outs before jumping in with a DIY platform.  Like leasing a car, just read the fine print before signing.

Yes, we all pay (including the people building sites) hosting fees for our sites to live online 24/7, but a one time website project fee with $7.95/month hosting might just sound better than $25-$50/month for life when you run the numbers over several years.

5) You value the freedom to take your future website in any direction you see fit. 

This may seem like overkill to some business owners.  After all, most small businesses are thinking about getting through the month rather than the next 5 years.   However, the platform most web professionals use for client work today is called WordPress (almost all of our clients are now using WordPress, as is this website).  It’s the largest content management platform in use today and roughly one in every four websites is running on this software.

This means that there are developers covering the globe who are constantly making the platform better over time.  Whether those improvements are related to the framework, or companies focusing on additional functionality through plugin development, that flexibility is something that will always be lacking in a black box, proprietary product like a DIY website builder.

So, hopefully this either helps solidify your decision to use a DIY builder, or it made you think twice about the decision.  Either way, it’s good to kick the idea around before jumping in to your next website project and that’s the basic idea for us all as business owners.

If you still aren’t sure about the decision, please don’t hesitate to call me (Scott) directly at (770) 298-7916 or contact us through this website for a follow up.  We’ll be happy to talk with you regardless!