Nobody applies for the job of a surgeon without first having many years of training and experience. Nobody would trust themselves with performing a surgery without the right skills. Why, then, do so many people who are not trained in web development or web design think they can make a great website?
Of course, the stakes are much higher when doing a surgery. But building a business is not a simple task either. At Wider Webs at least, we focus on helping businesses that are based primarily on having a great website, and that’s because increasingly more businesses depend on their website for all or most of their income. So if your website is essential to your business, you shouldn’t risk your success on a poorly designed website.
Here are a few reasons you should have an expert build your website.
The Initial Costs
Even if you’re building a relatively simple website, you’ll spend a lot of time on it that you could be investing into other parts of your business. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable and costly asset. The money you don’t make when you’re spending time on things you shouldn’t be doing is money ultimately wasted.
Instead of spending hours on tutorials and looking up how to achieve various effects in your website design, you should be spending time on developing the blog content you’ll put on your website. You should be researching your market and consulting with experts in your industry. You should be working on your sales funnel. Your business idea, after all, is what got you to start your business—not the exciting idea of making a website.
Here at Wider Webs, one of our biggest areas of focus is branding. Your brand can be your most valuable asset, or it can be what limits your sales or reach of influence. Why would you risk doing something that can give people perceptions of your company that you want to avoid?
Your website must portray your company as trustworthy, and first impressions are lasting impressions. Most people will probably discover your business by stumbling across your website. When someone lands on your website, you have only a couple seconds to impress them and create a positive and lasting impression. If the first thing they thought about your website is that it sucks (or even that it’s mediocre), you can go on to spend all the money you want on marketing to them in the future but will likely not succeed.
The problem with most drag-and-drop website building tools and all such easy visual website design tools is that they will never let your company’s brand stand out. Thousands of websites are built on the same few frameworks, and if your website looks like all those other websites, then you lose. (In addition, it’s hard to get copyright protection for a website that isn’t sufficiently unique.)
What about features? Will you really get all the features the way you want them if you use a do-it-yourself website tool? That’s unlikely if your website is for a business and especially if you want it to have features that will differentiate your website from your competition. Even if you begin building your own website, you’re probably going to end up paying someone to do the more advanced things.
Extra Features Slow Your Website Down
Most website building tools not only lack important features but also include a lot of features your website does not need. These systems are designed to accommodate all kinds of websites—websites for personal blogs, non-profit organizations, small businesses, corporate websites, portfolio websites, and any kind of website you can think of.
So what? The problem is that all these extra features slow down your website. The more code that has to load for a web page, the longer it will take for the page to load. Even if you’re not using a feature offered by your website builder, it’s possible (and likely) that the code needed to make that feature possible is downloaded for the user every time a page from your website is loaded. So there’s just going to be more stuff for users to load, which makes the loading take longer.
Google has calculated that for every 0.4 seconds longer that it takes for their search results to load the company loses 8 million searches per day. This means probably close to 20 million ads that Google is unable to show per day, which means millions of dollars of revenue lost.
Research by Amazon has shown that one second longer in loading time means $1.6 billion dollars lost in sales each year. That’s right: one second means $1,600,000,000 every year. As a small business, can you afford such costs?
Optimization for Search Engines
Of course, we must also not forget about being mobile-friendly. Having a mobile-friendly site is not something you should be proud of anymore, it’s not an additional advantage that will help your business grow. Mobile-friendliness is key to website effectiveness in our mobile-first world. The website must look good and load fast. The internet is still much slower on mobile phones compared to speeds you get on your computer.
Still, most people who make websites don’t know exactly how to build a mobile-first website. It’s hard and requires technical knowledge. It requires extensive testing via simulation (trying out the website with dozens of different screen sizes) with special developer tools. It requires creative techniques that you learn only with experience.
The Long-Term Costs
Though you might save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars initially if you build your own site, you’ll likely end up paying more in the long run. If the core isn’t done right, maintenance will be expensive.
As soon as you need to do something that you can’t figure out how to do by yourself, you’ll need to hire an expert. As soon as the expert sees that you have a non-standard implementation of your current design or features, they’ll tell you right away that “it turns out that this is going to be a lot more work [and more cost] than I expected.” Heard that one before? If you’ve been in business long enough, then you definitely have.
Web developers know how other web developers think. They might see your code and instantly know about the experience or training of whoever wrote that code. If they see that you’ve been piecing things together on your own (or bootstrapping), they know that they’ve landed on a gold mine and that they can charge you high fees.
Web technology changes quickly. Will your setup work in a year? Are you already using deprecated coding standards that will be removed from web browsers and servers soon? You can’t simply depend on your server configuration not changing (you can’t depend on not having to update your website) for it to continue working for people. Browsers change, as well as many things out of your control. But these are things that web developers are always on top of, things that they know and prepare for in advance.
If you’re a real business owner and entrepreneur, you won’t be spending time on building your own website. You’ll go where you need to—find the right person or company—to serve you with web development and design skills you can get only after a huge time and money investment.
So if you’re not a web developer but already built your own website, you should question the professionalism of the design. You should be worried about all the potential you’re missing out on. But you should be happy that you can still hire an expert to create a custom website fine-tuned for your needs.