Every small business owner has probably asked themselves this question at some point and with good reason. Now, more than ever before, having a decent online presence is absolutely vital for any fledgling business, regardless of its market or intention.
Hiring a professional website designer to build and maintain your site can prove incredibly expensive though and if you’re one of those business owners who really likes to be ‘hands on’, the idea of handing such an important facet of your business to a stranger or (at best) a skilled acquaintance, might seem beyond the realms of reasonability. Building a basic website is easy, but building a decent and (most importantly) successful website is an art form.
Students can spend years at university learning the intricacies of web development, digital marketing, SEO, e-commerce, design, optimization and coding before they become qualified website builders and (presumably) you have neither the time nor the inclination to spend 3 years learning the ropes. But depending on the kind of website you need, the features you want, the goals of the site, and the dedication and patience you possess, creating your own website could be a very good idea. But then it could also be a very bad idea.
Here we’ll explore the options available to novice site builders and a few of the pros and cons of building your own website with each. Hopefully, you’ll come out the other side of the article with a clearer idea of exactly what it entails and whether or not it’s the right decision for you. If you need any further help then feel free to do a little more research, for example, WebWithit teaches you how to build business revenue online using case studies from numerous successful entrepreneurs.
These are quick and easy, drag and drop builders that are usually browser based and can help first timers put together a functional (if basic) website in a matter of minutes.
If you only need a subtle, small, basic site or a personal site with little information, a site builder is a quick, easy option.
The majority are free to use so might be a good option if you’re working to a strict budget.
Site builders will generally only provide you with generic templates, which will make it almost impossible for you to stand out from your competition. If you want a site that matches your business’s personality and goals, a site builder is probably not a good idea.
Site builders generally only allow a few pages of information, which will prove useless if you are selling multiple products and services.
The drag and drop approach to site building is incredibly limiting.
Some site builders will only allow you to use bland ‘clip art’ imported from their own server, which will have no bearing whatsoever on your business. Branding is incredibly important for a small business and without a logo or design style, there technically is no branding.
You’ll require decent website analytics to analyse whether or not you’re doing a good job, and if not how you can improve. The vast majority of site builders (especially free site builders) will not include the essential data you’ll need to improve your online presence.
These ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ editors (such as Adobe Dreamweaver) require minimal HTML, CSS or web design knowledge and are more powerful than browser-based site builders.
If you’ve ever used a word processor or graphic interface, such as Photoshop before, you should be able to fall into using one of these programs with relative ease as copy and pasting text and dragging and dropping images is literally as simple as you’d expect.
There will be a vast amount of templates and ‘wizards’ that will be able to get you up and running with little fuss.
It’s not always 100% accurate. Although this software might advertise itself as ‘WYSIWYG‘, more often than not the site might end up looking completely different in a browser window when it’s actually been uploaded.
If you run into a problem, more often than not it will only be solved by starting completely from scratch. This is especially true if you’re not well versed in HTML, XHTML or CDD coding. And surely that’s the reason you’re using this software in the first place right?
These free to use sites are a wonderful alternative for affiliates or personal pages, but not particularly for businesses.
Incredibly easy to use.
Numerous templates to choose from.
Blogs do not enjoy a good reputation for business as they have always been associated with opinion pieces and trivialities.
Affiliates will use blogs as a means of making extra income by placing ads on their blogs, which could really put-off customers.
The domain name you’ll be given will be little more than an extension and this will look incredibly unprofessional.
Content Management Systems
By far the most sensible option for novices considering building their own sites, a content management system (CMS) will provide you with all the tool’s you’ll need to edit and manage your site, interact with customers, create profiles, integrate social media and more besides. A good example of a functional, cost-effective CMS would be WordPress, which is a CMS that can be easy to use but challenging to master. In terms of a CMS I honestly think that (for first time users) there are no real cons as they are infinitely customisable, powerful and future-proof. The only thing you wouldn’t be able to do with a CMS, is use any kind of advanced, bespoke flash animations or layouts, but for a small business this shouldn’t be an issue.
About the Author
George Brandon is a small business owner who uses WordPress on a daily basis. It took him less than a week to learn and he’s never looked back since!