Should I Build a Website Myself? 3 Points to Consider

I have an idea that I want to get started, should I build a website myself, or get a professional to build it for me?

The idea to build a website starts from a will to do something. For an existing business, they might seek a website that can land them new leads. For individuals bootstrapping an online startup or eCommerce website, building a productised website will be their goal.

We previously uncovered how to build a website in our previous article, with setting goals as the first and foremost step in this process.

In this post, we unpack the relationship between these goals and the final solution, by asking some key questions that should be answered before deciding whether you should bolt your website together yourself, or get your website built professionally.

1. Will the website promote your product or be your product?

To help answer this question, there are really 3 places in your business where your website will sit:

  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Product & Service
  3. Both of the above

If you’re an accountant, lawyer, photographer or freelance consultant that is selling your services that you service offline, then you are likely looking to start your website to promote these services. Your website will then serve as a Sales & Marketing tool.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to set up a classifieds listing, job search website, ordering service, dating website or selling and transacting products online, then your website itself will be a service that your customers directly engage with to fulfill their needs. Your website’s primary role will then be a Product & Service.

Recommendation

Websites used as Sales & Marketing tools can be built using WordPress with some themes and plugins, or using a service such as Wix. See how you can set up your own WordPress website.

The main challenges going forward then will be:

  • seamlessly integrating your brand style into your website
  • creating a smooth User Experience that supports desktop and mobile users
  • writing great content for your website; and
  • ensuring your final website is SEO friendly.

If you are time-poor or feel out of your depth here, we encourage you to get in touch with a professional to build a website for you.

Online Product & Service websites however carry additional complexities that go beyond placing content and images onto them. Read on to know more details.

2. Will the website lose you customers if it goes offline at any time?

Websites do occasionally go offline for various reasons. Web hosts schedule maintenance on servers or excess traffic can bring your website down. Websites can completely break with ‘upgrades’, or be severely affected by them.

Whatever the cause, your customers will not be able to get the information they need or utilise your services, and leads to unhappy customers as a result. This problem scales the more users you have.

Consequently, for Sales & Marketing websites, this can result in lost leads for your business. However, this may not be a huge problem because:

  • visitors come to the site at predictable times
  • people can always return to the site later; or
  • the business is reachable in other ways

For online Product & Service however, the consequences can be felt more deeply by customers because:

  • the customers may be on a paid subscription
  • they have invested a lot of time into the online service
  • they regularly experience these issues; or
  • critical opportunities or deadlines have been missed
Page not available
Users are left with no choice but to move on when they see an error like this.

Recommendation

As your website’s traffic or need to stay online increases, services of a professional to maintain your website should be sought out.

Websites that attract a large amount of traffic will exceed a normal web host’s ability to host the website. In some cases, your website needs more complex hosting such as a dedicated server or enterprise grade cloud hosting.

If your website needs to maintain up-time as much as possible, then engaging a competent web developer can resolve issues much more quickly and accurately than doing it yourself.

3. Will the website compose of many complex features?

With some learning and execution time, you can set up a WordPress website and some plugins that do some basic functions with little trouble.

If you decide to launch an online Product & Service that has a constellation of features such as:

  • user logins, and profiles that these users can maintain
  • payment facilities, sometimes with recurring payments
  • access control to certain features based on user’s subscription status or activity
  • credit systems, payment histories or invoicing that can be audited
  • display multiple languages based on user preferences

then having the skills and experience to know how to hook these functions between each other will be essential.

List of WordPress plugins
Having more than a handful of website features can quickly become hard to maintain long term.

With matters around charging people’s credit cards, tracking paid features that are used and keeping visibility of all this, you can risk:

  • overcharging or undercharging some customers
  • charging customers features that they don’t use
  • granting incorrect access to features to the wrong customers
  • sending customers incorrect invoices; or
  • not being able to report on data accurately, or taking too much time to do so.

Where as other risks of developing complex websites can also include:

  • displaying incorrect or disfigured information
  • affecting the reputation of your users
  • breaching the privacy of your users
  • sending emails to the wrong people or with the wrong information
  • defects corrupting your valuable business data
  • ruining your business’ image due to website bugs.

Some of these consequences can be quite drastic. We’ve heard of cases where customers were charged 100 times what the listed price displays or many thousands of people received a test email from the system.

Recommendation

As your website’s complexity increases, services of a professional to maintain your website should be sought out.

Websites that are functionally complex are prone to breaking more often or corrupting your valuable data. Not only will a competent web developer plan your website to scale effectively, they can resolve issues much more quickly.

Wrapping up

Embarking on a website project can present challenges that you will not immediately see. Whether or not you intend to build the solution yourself, you should always get advice from someone experienced in the field.

Just as you would not draft your own legal contracts, building a website to scale will land you in deep water in the future if not done correctly.

We hope that the points above will help you see some of the risks in building a website yourself.

Have you decided that you should build your website through an expert? Drop us a line and let us discover how we can help you through one of our website strategy sessions.

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