I first wrote about this for the Talented Ladies Club.
With the advent of web builder platforms like Wix and Squarespace, bringing a website to life is now within reach of pretty much everyone.
So you may be thinking about building your business website yourself. After all, the adverts make it look so easy (even a footballer can do it!). On the other hand, if you recognise there could be more to it than the adverts suggest, and that hiring someone to design your website could be the way to go.
As a business owner, it’s important to work out the best use of your time and money. This is not always easy to work out, especially when it comes to websites. So I’m going to help you weigh things up so you can decide whether building your own website is the right thing to do.
Over the last 15 years, I have created websites for clients, and for myself, using the whole gamut of methods available. I have also surveyed a range of small businesses for even more insights on this topic.
What are web builder platforms?
Web builder platforms are all-in-one solutions like Wix and Squarespace which allow you to build and host a website and connect it to a domain name. The difference between these and traditional methods is that everything is locked in and you pay an ongoing subscription for the lot. Their main advantage is the ability to get something online quickly and cheaply.
The limitations of all-in-one web builder platforms
Whether you do it yourself, or hire someone to create your website, the ease of access of web builder platforms comes with trade-offs to be aware of.
- There will be limitations on the kind of customisation you can do.
- You cannot transfer your site to any other platform.
- You can’t keep an off-site back up. If the service disappears, your site will go with it.
- Google favours websites with clean and efficient code behind them because they produce a better experience for the user. Unfortunately, web builders can create bulky code and coding errors.
What about using WordPress?
WordPress is a bit different in that your website is not locked in. You can use the self-hosted option meaning you’re free to move it where you want and keep off-site backups.
In contrast to the all-in-one platforms, the limitations of WordPress depends on who builds the site, rather than WordPress itself. Whatever you want, you can have, but to go bespoke you’ll need an experienced web developer to help you. For example, creating an editable filtering system for the Work with a Life Coach page was only possible with the skills of a professional developer. This is why WordPress is a good long-term solution – it can expand and adapt as your business grows.
It is totally possible for a novice to launch a business website using WordPress without paying anyone, but the learning curve is steeper than the all-in-one platforms. Firstly, there’s WordPress itself to learn. Then, you will need to find a theme to use (design and layout template) and each one works in a different way.
And finally, to get the results you want, you may end up using a drag & drop web builder within WordPress (like Elementor or Divi), which will take considerable time to learn as well.
Where to save and where to spend
If you had an extremely limited amount of cash to spend on a website, let’s say £120 for the year, you would not need to ask “should I build my own business website?”. You’d have no choice but to roll your sleeves, subscribe to a web builder platform, and get on with it.
The real question then, is “what is the best use of my budget?”. If you had £500-£1,000 available, you might still be better off building the site yourself and spending that money more wisely on your website’s essential ingredients.
The real cost of a website
The true cost of a business website is not just in the ‘building’ part.
Your website has to sell your services. No matter how good these web builder platforms and tools might be, they can’t write sales copy, they can’t take great photos of you, and they don’t know how to present your particular service in a way that compels the visitor to take action.
There are a lot of skills that go into making a website that sells. I have counted 13 unique disciplines within professional web design agencies. This is not to put you off, but to put web builder tools into context. They play a small part in the overall scheme of things.
Which begs the question, is it worth spending days of your time learning how to use a web builder when there are bigger fish to fry?
A better use of time
Be honest about your skills and clear on the outcomes you want from a website before deciding whether to do it yourself.
Developing a lead generation strategy and planning how your website will support it is a far more important activity for a business owner than dragging & dropping in Wix.
Once you’ve worked that out, with a small budget you can hire a freelance designer who uses one of these web builders day in and day out. They will already understand their features as well as their limitations and quirks and how to get around them. You’ll end up with a better website done in a fraction of the time.
When you hire professionals, you’ll get even more value for money if you work on other strategic elements beforehand such as your value proposition, benefits, features and brand personality.
Prioritising where to spend your money
Creating your own business website shouldn’t be about spending nothing, but wasting nothing.
Spending all of your budget on hiring a web designer would be a waste if you don’t have decent copywriting on your site. Investing in sales copywriting is essential to draw people in, create resonance with your ideal clients and compel them to take action and contact you.
The same goes for photography – professional portrait shots are essential if the brand is you.
If you have money left over from the above, hire a web designer. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself, so this is a great time to learn the crucial skill of successful business ownership – delegation!