With easy access to solid DIY website platforms (Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, etc) and a huge pool of freelancers and web agencies, the decision to hire someone or to build for yourself is not necessarily an easy choice.
I built the first iteration of my website, The Tool Merchants, in 2013. After plugging along making minor changes for many years, I finally hired a professional to help me really spruce things up in 2017. And only very recently, in mid-2018, did I officially put on my *freelance web designer* hat.
So I’ve been on both sides of this equation, and here’s what I’ve learned, distilled for your skimming pleasure.
When You Might Build Your Own Website
- You have very little capital or cash flow
- You have extra time.
- You’re not sure what your niche is yet.
- You like tinkering with colors and fonts and all the other decisions that go into design.
When You Might Hire a Pro
- Your business is established and/or you have cash flow.
- Your time is limited, and you can’t justify the time required to build a site.
So let’s play devil’s advocate and pretend that though you have some capital, you’re still considering building your own site.
Maybe you want to use that capital for other things, or perhaps you have a hunch you’ll enjoy messing with photos and colors and fonts and all that.
You’ll face two main types of challenges when you set out to build a website.
What platform will you choose? Squarespace, Wix, WordPress?
If you go with WordPress, how will you host your site? What theme or template will you select? What plugins will you choose out of the 50,000 that are available?
Then, you’ll need to figure out how to actually build your site. Sourcing and adding photos, creating headlines, columns, forms, buttons, etc. This is not necessarily difficult, but it will require some tinkering, reading and possibly some YouTube learning.
Marketing and Communication Challenges
How will you go about selecting colors, fonts, and photographs? Do you have a sense of visual hierarchy, so you know what information to make prominent?
Do you have a basic understanding of human psychology and what influences a person’s buying behavior? How do you create something that speaks to your visitors?
If discovering the answers to these questions excites you, I encourage you to build your own site! But if all of the above sounds like drudgery, find yourself a good designer and don’t look back.
Sidenote: Through the process of building The Tool Merchants, I discovered that I actually do like all this stuff. Sometimes, we have to try something to know for sure.
A good designer will ask you questions that make you think. Sometimes, the answers won’t be simple or easy. Then, he or she will use those answers to build you something that reflects the union between your goals, your product or service, and your audience, customers or clients.
You define the problem, your designer presents solutions. Ultimately, you have the final say (“Can you try a different color?”), but the collaborative process between you and your designer will often lead to something richer and more effective than what you might create on your own.