1. Pretty vs Effective
Design isn’t just about making things pretty. Even if you have a good eye for interior design or fine art, web design is a separate skill. Web design combines typography, color theory, user-interface and experience design, marketing and SEO (search-engine optimisation), and often graphic design, too. A website needs to inform and inspire your customer, and there are many elements to consider regarding the psychology of the end-user who will visit your site.
2. Time is Money
Technical skills take time to acquire, and you don’t want to limit your website to the skills you can acquire part-time alongside your main business. Whilst it’s true that the basics of HTML and CSS (the code for structure and style) are easy to learn, building a responsive, reliable website takes more than the basics.
Even if you aren’t on the path to building a big enterprise, these days more and more of your marketing will take place online. What might have seemed like a nice three-page website displaying the general gist of your business and contact details likely won’t cut it when you begin writing blog articles or selling products online. In order to scale up smoothly, you need to think big from the beginning, even if you aren’t going to be implementing online services or marketing yourself with blogging just yet. Later on down the line, you’ll thank yourself.
Building on the previous point, many DIY web builders don’t offer you the kind of flexibility that a more extensive platform can. I use WordPress because as a designer and developer it allows me (and therefore my clients) a wide scope of features. If a plugin doesn’t exist yet, it can be coded. If some interactivity needs to be added beyond the norm, that can be done with relative ease. Direct access to code is hugely important for creating and debugging reliable websites, as well as for tweaking things that just can’t be accessed by a DIY web builder’s generated output. Nothing should be beyond the reach of a developer if you want to have full control over your site.
5. It’s Yours
Many websites aren’t actually yours, even though you may be paying a premium for hosting and have your own domain name. What happens if you wanted to move to a different hosting company, or transfer your domain name elsewhere? Are these files truly yours, or are you now reliant on one company’s services and support in order for everything to function? Make sure you know what you’re getting into, and who actually owns the website once it’s complete.
When you find a good developer, they should be willing to walk you through every step of accessing and updating your content, so that you can self-manage your site if you want to. With the smaller DIY site builders, the support just isn’t there or requires a serious learning curve to implement. For the larger ones, you’re not likely to speak to the same person twice. With StudioWEISS and other small agencies, you’ll receive one-on-one personal assistance when you need it, so you’ll never be left alone to struggle if you do get stuck. Sometimes that human touch is more helpful than a library of documentation, no matter how extensive.
7. It’s a Whole Career
You have a business to run! Whatever your speciality, having strong focus and momentum is what makes a business more likely to succeed. Paying for a designed and developed website isn’t the cheapest option, but the alternative will likely be a huge distraction if you run into trouble or need support. For the same reasons that you’re not doing your accounts yourself in Excel (and if you are, I highly recommend looking at a service like FreeAgent if you’re not ready to sign up for an accountant), you need to prioritise your energy wisely and know when to DIY, and when to outsource to get the best results. Web design is a whole career by itself, and stretches right from project management and asset preparation, to optimising the finished project for speed, security, and SEO. Unless you fancy picking up a new career on the side, it might be worth working with a designer rather than without.