More than Website Design – There’s an old proverb which says; “A man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client.” There’s a grain of truth in that, not just for legal matters, but for any undertaking what requires specialized skills, from rewiring your office and repairing your delivery van to, yes, designing and building your business website. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but is it worth the effort and risk? Designing and developing a business website requires competence in several specialized skills. A professional designer has to have those skills to stay in business. A business owner or a professional may have one or two of those skills, but the odds are against any one person, outside the design profession, having all of them at the level of competence required. Just as you are sure you have made a good decision, this is where the “build it yourself” guys lock you in to some proprietary web hosting deal. You are worried about getting a new site up and they’ve locked you into a deal whereby your website will be lost if you try to move to a new proper web host. That’s called “gotcha!”
Make it look pretty
You may be able to paint a picture or write a song, but does that mean you can design a website? Maybe, but it might not be as easy as you think. So, you found the perfect font for your text? That’s good, but it might not be available on all computers and it’ll be replaced by the default font. You have every element of the homepage arranged just the right way? What happens if a customer looks at it with Internet Explorer 6 and the whole thing’s thrown off kilter? That happens. A website can look radically different when it’s viewed in different browsers. Just ask any web designer. They have to know that, and how to deal with it.
Maybe you’ve been using computers for years. You know basic html. You can make Word and Quickbooks bend to your will. Those are useful accomplishments and should put you a step ahead, assuming your site is just a few pages of static html. But can you make a contact form? JQuery animation for the homepage? Integrating a content management system? What if you follow all the instructions in the DIY website guidebook you bought and you still can’t get that PayPal button to work? Don’t even think about a shopping cart. You’ll end up gibbering. A professional design firm has to know how to do all that, and more.
That gets old fast
Let’s say you built your own personal website when you were in college. It was fun and useful experience. But take a look at your competitors’ websites. Things look a lot different nowadays. They look so slick and professional compared to the white text and animated gif’s everyone was using back then. Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw the dancing baby? The internet has changed, and so have the skills needed to build a website.
The upshot is…
Most business owners, with a lot of reading and research, a lot of trial and error, and a massive amount of time and effort, could probably build a workable website that doesn’t look awful. But is it worth it? Is your website going to make you look professional if it just “doesn’t look awful”? Is it really worth all the time and work you’d put into it? Time is money and a business owner or professional’s time is valuable. Wouldn’t it be better to pay a professional web designer and developer to build your website? It may not be as expensive as you think, and it might save you some DIY-induced headaches. View it as an investment, which will present your business in the best possible manner, while letting you spend all that wasted time doing what you do best; running your own business.