Yes You Can Create Your Own Website… Just Not A Very Good One
Many businesses inevitably ask themselves the question that makes all web developers cringe: Can I build a website myself?
Short of learning how to code, a website builder is the only real option for creating a website if you have no previous experience.
However, the benefit of using an open source or enterprise-level system is that an experienced developer has full access to the entire codebase for the website and can make it look and function exactly how you need it to.
But at some point, the demand for a “build your own website” solution grew to the point where the market responded and produced a whole range of CMSs that are targeted toward non-technical people to enable them to create their own website. Which is great, in theory…
Build Your Own Website Services
With the rise of “build your own website” (BYOW) services like WIX and Squarespace, it’s becoming increasingly appealing for people to create their own websites. But the question remains; can I really build a website myself without any technical skill?
The short answer is yes! Well…sort of.
But the real answer is that you probably shouldn’t.
For the same reason that I can theoretically watch a YouTube tutorial, go to Bunnings and attempt my own plumbing – sh*t will probably hit the fan. Because, well… I’m not a plumber.
And unless you’re a web developer, you’re going to run into a few headaches. The trap is that the headaches aren’t apparent right away.
When you first set up the website it’s easy to think “Oh, this is great, I have a home page, a contact page with a form and some information pages. I can dump my logo in there and change the colour and all the text and pictures – it’s perfect”.
The problems arise when you want to change pretty well anything or add any functionality that is more advanced than a contact form.
Issues With BYOW Services
- Almost impossible to customise
- Locked into a theme that’s incredibly difficult to change
- Most technical integrations are available as add-ons for an additional cost
- If you’re a business that’s planning to grow, BYOW services hardly ever scale
These BYOW services are highly profitable businesses in their own right because they know their market. It’s small business owners who are looking to build a website on the cheap.
They promise easy, quick setups for an all-inclusive *low* cost. Which is arguably true. So, if you’re looking at building on a budget then you’re in the right place.
The typical cost for these services ranges from about $15-$50 per month for basic plans and includes your website hosting which is usually a comparable cost in itself for a server to house a “self-hosted” website.
What you get is a selection of templates to choose from, which you can dump your logo onto, change the colours to suit your taste, swap out the pictures and text and get the contact form to shoot off to your designated email address. Which is fantastic if that’s all you need to do.
The problems start when you want to customise it or add any kind of functionality that isn’t part of their core offering. Because well, you simply can’t.
Well, actually you probably can with a grossly priced paid add-on – which is where they sting you. You didn’t really expect there to be no catches, right?
These services only work because they lock down the template so much that even the most inept user can’t break it. The trade-off is that you can’t really do all that much in the way of customising it.
As a premier digital agency, we get countless people calling up with the same enquiry. It goes like this:
“Hey my name is X and I own X company. I’m just calling up because we’re looking to improve our website. See, I built it a few months ago myself and I want to add and change a few things but can’t work out how. I called [BYOW service] and they seem to think I won’t be able to do some of these things so I don’t really know what to do”.
“Oh, what is it?”
“I want to integrate..”
End of conversation. Cue disappointment.
Self-hosted BYOW services simply can’t give you access to anything server-level which means custom integrations with other systems are out, unless they are prebuilt and in the plugin store, and yup – you guessed it! They cost money.
Furthermore, once you pick your template, you’re more or less confined to that site layout. The more you engage with website design up on that template, the harder it will be to change to a different one.
Going back to the locked-down nature of the codebase too, if you want to make any structural changes to the site layout you’re going to have a very, very hard time.
To sum it up simply; BYOW services are only good if your business and website are likely to never change, or in other words, you’re never going to grow as a business. Which is a little depressing, to say the least.
But I Just Want A Simple Website, So Surely It’ll Be Fine?
Well, the other consideration is time. Whilst these services are “beginner-friendly” and you can’t really break the site layout, they will still take time for you to set up.
Mostly the time will be sent trying to understand the terminology you’ve never heard of, tossing up whether or not you actually need the paid add-ons they are pedalling your way and trying to work out why you can’t implement the customisations you’re after because you’re using a locked down template.
All of this time which you could be spending in parts of your business which you’re actually efficient at.
And What Happens If It Isn’t Fine?
Imagine setting up your website and running it for 3 months just to realise that your enquiry form never actually worked. You would be surprised just how many times this happens to people who set up their own websites.
It’s also very important to keep in mind that just because a website looks nice, doesn’t mean that Google and other search engines share your opinion. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a multi-billion dollar industry because it works.
The first result for any given search term gets a grossly higher click rate than numbers 2 or 3. And if your website appears on page 2, you may as well not exist at all.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not a mysterious and shadowy type of sorcery. There are no tricks that you learn from a person wearing a dark cloak in an alleyway and there is no such thing as ranking overnight.
SEO is, and always will be, a fairly slow and long-term strategy. But it should always be part of your digital strategy, because when it pays off – it can be a game changer for a business.
And whilst there is no such thing as ranking overnight, there are certainly things in your website’s configuration that can actively discourage search engines from ranking you.
As someone who doesn’t have a background in web or SEO, there is no possible way that you can be expected to know what these things are. But coming from an agency that deals with websites all day, every day, we can tell you without a shred of doubt that we have never seen a self-built website optimised for search engines.
So, Can You Really Build Your Own Website?
Sure. But why stop there? Do your own plumbing. Build your own shed. Fix your own car. Make all your own clothes.
But for most of these tasks, you wouldn’t do it yourself because the fact of the matter is that if you aren’t a plumber, builder, mechanic or tailor, you know that you should leave it to a professional.
Websites are no different. So, if you don’t have the time to learn how to be a web developer, consider leaving it to someone who already has, like us.
Reach out to our web developers today to see how we can build you a website that has all the features you want and that’s future-proof as your business grows.
Are you ready to grow your business?
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