What is a DIY Website?
We’ve all seen the adverts and the posts “Create your website here – it’s FREE!”. I’m referring to automated web design services where you pick a generic template and add you own text. Then choose from a limited number of boring, uninspiring images that just leave your website flat and boring. “We’ll have you up and running in minutes” – a bold claim and absolutely false. The “website builder” is often offered to you as you purchase a new domain name, these are confusing and a poor choice in al respects. Costs seem low to begin with, but this all changes in time and we’ll discuss this a little later.
What are my options?
As a start up business owner or if you are looking to redesign/revamp your existing website, there are a few option to choose from…
- DIY web design
A very limited option with little room for expansion, with a very generic and lifeless feel to it.
- Bespoke web design
The most expensive option by far. Coded 100% from the ground up using raw code and various design languages. If you want your website to be all singing all dancing, with seriously complex functionality and programmed by an experienced web developer and then assembled by a professional web designer. This is largely unnecessary in today’s world of CMS platforms and advanced frameworks such as WordPress and Joomla, and carries an astronomical price compared to the below option.
- Hybrid web design
This option is by far the most common and value for money option. Over the last decade, CMS platforms such as WordPress and Joomla have taken up the market share of all website designs currently online. With almost the exact same opportunity to expand and update as the bespoke option, many add-ons and plugins can achieve what you would usually pay hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds for. Templates can be selected if required, but this isn’t required, or even benefitial most of the time.
The limitations of DIY Websites
As a start up business, it is very tempting to scrimp and save as much as possible. Sometimes this is done in completely the wrong areas and this is simply down to inexperience and shooting from the hip, without proper research and planning. We see the same thing all the time – new businesses breezing over the importance of having a professional web designer construct their online presence. They feel that a DIY site builder is the best option for them in the beginning, but this decision soon comes with deep regret. A quick solution implemented at this stage immediately limits your future in more ways than realise. We will discuss these limitation below.
Many people assume that these DIY site builders are easy – they heard a friend of a friend has done it, so hard can it be? Confusing, if you aren’t computer savvy and used to online computer interfaces. Many people try to save time and money with these online options, but soon realise that there is much more to it than just typing some text and selecting a few pictures. Often they abandon the race and come to their senses, other end up spending a horrendous amount of time before they eventually quit. Then there are some who refuse to let it beat them and post the site live for all to see. They then wonder why their business is crumbling before their eyes.
98% of all DIY (Do-It-Yourselfers) fail to even complete their website design
All DIY websites come from a very limited range of templates. Most of which are unsightly and plain, but these make up the bulk of the “Thousands of templates to choose from” Leaving just a handful of designs that you would even dare to use as your online representation. Unfortunately, you are not the only one looking through these templates, so the best of the bunch will have been chosen by thousands of other customers. Leaving your website the same as everybody else’s and just as uninspiring. You are massively limit as to what you can change – while many vendors offer expansion packs for money, they are still very basic compared to what is available with a CMS system. If your website is an important part of your business, I would look elsewhere just on this basis.
- Mobile friendly
The majority of DIY site builders do not display well at all on mobile devices such as tablets and phones. They are also not updated regularly, so as soon as a browser is updated, your site may now be unreadable..and unfixable!
- Little, or no support
What most people don’t realise with web design, is that it takes many hours and lots of experience to render a website on multiple devices and browsers. When a new business owner signs up for a DIY website builder, they only expact the fun creative (although very limited) part and not the hours of trouble shooting to edit the code for each display. Most online solutions don’t offer any support for these common issues and even if they do, it comes at a cost.
If SEO if a vital ingredient to your website’s success then a DIY site builder isn’t they way forward. Many are built with Flash (a technology that isn’t compatible with the majority of mobile devices) and is any empty page as far as search engines are concerned. As above, once a search engine changes its algorithm, the website may also drop dramatically in rankings.
- Content Management
Being able to update and add to your website is an integral part to owning a website in 2016. Many website builders are without options for blogs and limit the amount of pages you can add to your website. This will hinder and attempts to promote and expand your site further down the road. This may not seem like a big deal now, but Dreamkatcha (and most other web design companies) cant do anything with your website if it has been created but one of these online web builders. We will need to start from scratch every time.
- Your own Domain
Not having your own personal and unique domain name screams that you are not a serious business. This will instantly deter any prospective clients who are looking at your website. It could be enough for them to loose faith and simply move on tot he next company in the search results. Yet another opportunity (if you are lucky) for the software company to charge you more money for this privilege…it’s all starting to add up isn’t it.
- Extending Functionality
Adding extra features to your bog standard website is again a tough pill to swallow. Whereas CMS platforms such as WordPress and Joomla have many thousands of plug-ins offering all kinds of updates and expansions little or no cost. With the “quick & easy” DIY site builder, you are now at the mercy of a specialist developer within th company, who will now charge you astronomical prices to create these modifications.
Most of these DIY websites won’t let you use external advertising on your site – a viable option if you decide to promote with this feature. They will however place their own annoying adverts all over your website, in order to recoup some income from their free or low cost website option. Again this feature can sometimes be removed, but guess what…at a price. I assure you, it wont be long before you decide these ads are completely ruining your already boring and bog standard low cost website.
- A sitting duck!
Not only is the code unprocessable to any external developers or web designers, the site cant be transferred away from the company. So if you wanted to change hosting providers or change your domain name, you have no option but to start again from scratch. You are also not protected from an attack from a hacker, so once your site has been destroyed, you wont have the expertise on hand to rectify the situation.
The Cost of Saving Money
A recurring theme has been rearing it’s ugly head right the way through this article…extra charges. What first seemed like a quick, painless and low cost option, is now becoming expensive and unrewarding at best. With the simple addition of a blog, a few extra pages and a personal domain name, his “free” website has now cost you £350 for the year, including hosting. Now lets look at the cost of this site, should you decide to keep it (your business will be well and truly burred buy now) for 5, maybe 10 years. You are now paying more than you would for a professionally designed hybrid website, with 10% of the adaptability and 1% of the class.
If you are serious about creating a website for your business and want it to be taken seriously, hire a professional and be proud of your online presence. Your time should be spent on much more important things, such as building stock, accounts, promotion…and your family or loved ones.