In this article I will explain the differences between build-it-yourself website platforms and professional web design. Let’s face it, with all of the build it yourself hosted platforms out there, it seems like nobody should be at the mercy of a webmaster these days. I’ve actually seen some pretty nice looking websites done this way. So why do you need to hire someone to build your website?
The answer is simple. There is lot more to an effective website than text and pictures on pages. An effective website requires effective (keyword rich) content, good navigation structure and proper search engine optimization – including Google, Yahoo and Bing verification codes and conical redirects where needed. It should also have a properly constructed sitemap.xml file, appropriate robots.txt files, keyword alt tags in all photos, the right amount of H1, H2 & H3 tags and a multitude of other things that the build-it-yourself companies forget to mention to you. If you don’t know what some of these things are, your website won’t do what you think it should – generate traffic and revenue for your business.
Some of the build-it-yourself platforms have really cool looking templates that feature a full screen home page photo. They obviously don’t care about whether you come up in search engines. That’s my point – they don’t care about the success of your website. If they did, they would tell your that you need to have plenty of keyword rich content on your home page (at least 300 words). Also, there is a little thing called “above the fold”. This is the fact that when a person comes to your website, if they don’t see exactly what they are looking for instantly and without scrolling, they will probably leave. Yep, they aren’t there for the aesthetics. With a build-it-yourself site you won’t get much helpful advice on how to build a successful website or properly optimize it for search engines. You will just have a website and nothing more. That’s worth about what you will be paying for it and your return on investment will also be worth what you are paying (anywhere from $4.00 to $30.00 a month).
Build-it-yourself platforms also have many limitations as far as what functionality you can have on your website. Can you add long, complicated forms, make it a membership site, have an interactive events calendar, offer drip feed (paid) content, have a forum, have a photo gallery that functions exactly the way you want it to? In a nutshell, how much actual control over the look and functionality will you have? Probably not a whole lot.
The build-it-yourself platforms are certainly cheap and they look pretty easy, but where will you get help when you need it? I doubt that the company you use to build your website is going to do a screen share and step you through how to accomplish a task you are having trouble with. At best, you will have access to a support ticket system and no actual person to speak to for help. My job is to guide you along the path of building a website that adds true value to your company or organization by way of people actually finding your website and even better, contacting you for your product or service. You can save money by building your own website, but you will actually make a lot more money by hiring someone who can help you generate actual customers.
The bottom line is – if you just want a website address to put on your business cards, the build it yourself websites will work just fine. If you want a website that actually generates customers (and money), you need to leave it to the experts! So, now you’re thinking, the cost of a professional website is ridiculous in comparison to how cheap it is to figure out a build-it-yourself site. It’s not that hard – right? You may want to read my article on what professional website designers actually do for a living. It takes a lot of knowledge, experience and training to design professional websites.