Before you design your own website, consider what is best for your business or non-profit. Do you have the time, expertise, and resources to do a good job? Do you know best practices for mobile-ready web design in a world where smartphone usage is currently higher than 75%? Do you have the necessary skills to maintain your website after you build it?
If you answered no to one or more of these questions, you should read this post before you make the decision to design your own website. You owe it to yourself to know what you’re getting into before you get started on a DIY web design project.
But Don’t Sites Like Wix and WordPress Make It Easy to Design Your Own Website?
We get a lot of people contacting us who are interested in designing their own website. Typically, they ask about one of the above two website builders and whether one of them is right for their website needs. Our answer is always: it depends.
First of all, as folks who develop WordPress websites for small businesses and non-profits, we admit to being biased: we love WordPress. We are not fans of sites like Wix that are largely drag-and-drop website builders. We have a lot of reasons for feeling this way, but here are a few:
- Wix sites create the expectation that anyone can create an effective website
- You can’t migrate your data out of a Wix site like you can with a WordPress site
- Wix uses proprietary software for their websites, so we have to rely on what they tell us concerning things like SEO
If you simply want to put up a website to put up a website, such as for a family reunion or other personal event, then using Wix is fine. But if you’re creating the front page that consumers will see when they search for businesses or non-profits like yours, you need to more carefully consider the development of your website.
Reason #1: Design and Branding
The first reason you shouldn’t design your own website is that you may be unfamiliar with how modern websites should look and function. Your website needs to be distinctive to your brand. It needs to represent your small business or non-profit to potential clients, customers, and donors.
A shabby-looking website that doesn’t function properly will repel many consumers. Research has shown that website visitors make a decision regarding whether they think a website is appealing or not within 50 milliseconds! If your website isn’t aesthetically appealing, you will lose a key chance to make a good impression with first-time visitors.
You also need a website that functions properly for the type of organization you are running. For more information on our recommendations for small business and non-profit websites, see the following articles:
Reason #2: SEO
The second reason not to design your own website has to so with SEO. If you’re not familiar with SEO best practices, you may end up building a site that doesn’t show up prominently in search results. As we like to tell our clients: a website that isn’t optimized for SEO is a dead website. Why would you put up a website if no one can find it? You need to ensure consumers can find your website when they search for keywords related to your industry.
SEO is also a lot harder than people think it is. Best practices change all the time and if you don’t stay on top of them, you might end up doing things that make your website hard for search engines to index. For help keeping on top of SEO trends, see the following article:
Reason #3: Maintenance
Finally, good websites grow and change with your organization. The worst thing you can do is build a website that you can’t update effectively. Simple information like hours, location, events, and product listings need to be current. There’s nothing worse than a consumer contacting you only to find you don’t offer something that is still being advertised on your website.
Another key maintenance task that many people neglect is adding fresh content to your website. Search engines like to see new content added on a weekly basis. If you don’t have a blog or news feature on your website that you add fresh, well-written content to on a regular basis, your website will slowly slip down search engine results pages.
Ultimately, It’s Your Decision Whether to Go the DIY Route
We certainly don’t like to tell people that they shouldn’t design their own website. We just like people to be educated before they choose to do so. If your website isn’t make-or-break for your organization, then by all means: experiment away. But if you need to attract clients, customers, and donors to stay in business, you owe it to yourself to invest the necessary resources to have a website you can be proud of.