It’s no secret that there are plenty of tools out there where you can create your own website. But is it really worth it to spend the time doing it all yourself?
A professional website takes time and skill. Web designers have dedicated their entire career to getting it right. But with all the website builder software options out there a lot of people must be doing it themselves, right?
Yes and no. There are a lot of small businesses using these platforms, but there are also a lot of people going to McDonald’s, but that doesn’t make it good. In fact, McDonald’s isn’t even cheap or easy! Or good but that’s for another post.
This article will cover all the details about website builder platforms and if it’s really worth it for you to use one to build your own website. We’ll go through lots of twists and turns to help you decide if these all in one platforms are the right choice for you to do it yourself.
One thing I hope we can all agree on, though, is that online marketing is important for every business. A professional website can help customers find your small business online.
Building a website yourself is easier now than it has ever been. Let’s start there.
Building Your Own Website Has Changed
As the internet has become more ubiquitous in our lives, websites seem to have developed a reputation as something that can be easily built. It’s true, many business owners build their own websites without any experience or training.
If you want to do this yourself, there is some good news and bad news. The good news is that building a website yourself is easier now than it’s ever been. The bad news is that it’s also easier now than ever to mess up a website and create something bad.
Most people don’t realize how much time goes into creating a truly exceptional website. One that meets the needs of your business as a marketing tool while also being aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
It may be easy to do now with easier tools than ever, but the background skill and time it takes to get it right hasn’t changed at all. Then there are all the pieces that go into a website. You have to present all the pieces of a website in a way that works well for a website which is very different from a printed page or an email.
Then there are things like optimizing images, making the website fast, and then there’s search engine optimization. Tools for building websites have gotten infinitely more powerful and easier to use but getting it right hasn’t.
It’s just like working on a car or an HVAC system. There are now powerful tools that make those jobs easier than ever, but it still requires a lot of training and years of experience to do it right. Without the right training and experience then a lot of rookie mistakes are made. That goes for web design as well as every other industry in the world.
Building your own website has absolutely changed, and it’s easier today than it has ever been. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it.
Or does it?
Popular Options To Build Your Website
When you’re building your website, there are a few options to choose from. You can build your site yourself and there’s about a million tools to choose from to do it. Or, you can have a professional build it and any professional worth anything will build it with either WordPress or another popular open-source content management system (CMS) or even hand code it if the project is big enough.
WordPress is free, but the free version has a huge overhead for learning and executing a good website. Then there are tools that cost money but make it a lot easier. Even WordPress has a version that costs money but makes WordPress a lot easier.
With those tools that make it easier, you also lose a lot of options, speed, and power.
Here are some of the most popular tools for building your own website:
You can find an even larger list of top website builder software on Capterra. It can be quite overwhelming honestly and some specialize in some things above others. No matter what, you’re going to miss out on a lot from many of these website builders, even WordPress unless you’re on one of their top-tier plans.
Among that list, the most powerful options are WordPress and Webflow. Unfortunately they are also the most complex and will have the steepest learning curve. Mostly professional designers use WordPress and Webflow while a few use Duda.
Even with WordPress’s complexity, though, a good drag and drop website builder plugin can make it a lot easier to build on WordPress. So, while it’s the most complex platform, there are easy ways to use it.
Whatever tool you choose, you first need to know the kind of website you need. It may not even be possible for you to build your own website because you need something complex. Things like Facebook and even Craigslist are extremely complex, they aren’t something you can build yourself.
So, let’s take a look at what kind of website you might need which will help you determine if it’s even possible to build your website yourself.
What Kind of Website Do You Need?
If you have a small business and your website is strictly informational, then you can test out building it yourself. Keep in mind, though, that even a basic information only website can be a good source of new customers. So, it’s not really fair to say that your website only generates 20% of your business, so it doesn’t matter. That number can easily increase or decrease depending on how much you invest in a website.
Some businesses, even small businesses, rely entirely on the website, though. Perhaps your business is an eCommerce store that sells entirely online. In that case, you’ll want to explore other options rather than building it yourself.
A complex website that is very dynamic will require a more complex platform that a single person likely won’t even have the skill to build. Even some basic features of a website can be relatively complex for a do it yourselfer.
Want to build a personal website for fun? Then it’s not necessary to invest any money at all. Any website builder will do and there are not a lot of requirements for your website.
If you need a place to post product updates, company news, or blog posts, then you might be better off looking for someone with experience in developing more complex websites. Website builders can do some minor complex tasks, but they don’t always do them well. It’s likely best to look towards an open and powerful platform like WordPress with a web designer who knows their stuff.
What’s Your Skill Level?
If you’re on the technical side and have strong skills in design and communication, then you may have the basics to try your hand at building your own website. But don’t try it unless you really have these skills and not just think you have them.
I’ve seen way too many HVAC contractors who are great at what they do also think web design is easy. They destroy their website and ultimately ruin the entire functionality of it. Trust me, I’m not about to go up in my attic and tune up my HVAC system on my own thinking I’m great at it.
A website builder other than WordPress can get you started fast without having any coding experience, but you won’t get a lot of design options and the platform is limited. If you try your hand at WordPress, then be prepared to have a steep learning curve and possibly come out empty-handed and frustrated.
And that’s if you’re very technical and like to play around with stuff!
If you aren’t, then don’t even try it because you’re likely to mess things up more than help them, or you’ll end up with something that looks like everyone else’s website.
How Much Cash Do You Have?
Another consideration is how much cash you have. It’s always beneficial to outsource tasks that aren’t in your wheelhouse IF you have the money to do so. That goes for every industry and every skill out there. The most economic benefit for you and others is if you specialize and outsource the rest.
Websites are no different. Website design and development costs depend on the type of site you’re building (brochure, eCommerce, magazine, etc.), and who builds it. The cost can very a great deal but can be surprisingly affordable even from a professional.
If you build your own website, there are a variety of free tools available that can get the job done, just not quickly, easily, or possibly even prettily. However, if you want something more professional-looking with mobile compatibility or an eCommerce site, it will cost real money to hire someone to create the site for you.
How much a website costs depends entirely on what features are important to you, and how many bells and whistles you require. A professionally designed website can cost anywhere from $100 for a template website and beyond $5,000 or more for a full-featured eCommerce solution or custom website.
That doesn’t take into account monthly costs, either. If someone builds a website for you as a one-off or says there’s no monthly fee, then you should turn and run away fast. No website can be hosted online long-term or well without a monthly fee because servers cost money, simple as that.
Even free plans for website builders get their money somehow usually with ads that show on your website.
With all the variation in cost, a basic business website should run between $500-$3,000 while anything beyond that is considered custom web design. We build affordable websites that are slightly under that range, but we’re able to do that with our specialized WordPress platform and also with monthly hosting fees that are necessary anyway.
Do You Even Have Options?
Most of the time you do. Unless your business revolves around a custom idea that requires a completely custom website system, you always have options. Even someone whose business is a custom course has options.
There are lots of platforms that specialize in course websites. Those often lack on the website side of things, but there’s nothing saying you have to have your website and courses on the same platform. You can combine platforms like Wix and Kajabi to create the perfect solution.
It’s not always the best option, though, because you might end up with a patchwork website that looks like Frankenstein’s creation. A custom course platform built on WordPress will have a website also but all be on the same platform which will always be nicer, but you do have options.
Heck, even a huge company like Lyft doesn’t necessarily need a custom solution for their website because they invest most of their money into their app! A website could simply be a tool to have a web presence that directs people elsewhere, such as an app.
That means you always have options unless your platform needs to be built completely custom and is the website itself. That might be the case for a magazine website or possibly even an eCommerce website.
Heck, even eCommerce websites have platforms out there that make it easier to build a do it yourself eCommerce website. Shopify specializes specifically in that.
Just keep in mind that even though you always have options, those options aren’t always the best choice. Just like for me, it’s probably not a good idea for me to start trying to but a 220 V plug in for my hot but. ouch!
So what are your options then?
What Are Your Website Options?
You have infinite options and even that can make your head spin. Just picking the best option might be enough to turn you away from doing it yourself. Part of being a professional is also knowing the best solution for each problem.
That’s part of what web designers do!
Even if that option in most designers and developers case is WordPress with many custom solutions layered on top of it. That can get very complex quickly, though, so never believe that it’s simple. There are more bad plugins out there for WordPress than there are good, so keep that in mind when you think a web designer’s job is easy.
Here are your options for your new website project.
Doing It All Yourself
Yes, you could do the entire project yourself from choosing the right platform, hosting, or both. Then you have to figure out how to use the tools, then you have to figure out how to design the website to look good or use a template that makes your website look generic.
You’ll be taking on an entirely new role when doing it yourself, but you can do it. Just keep in mind that you also need to manage the content and keep paying the builder platform as well. It’s still an ongoing expense and all websites will (and should) be.
Hiring A Professional To Build And Manage
You can hire a professional to build and manage your website. This will be more costly than doing it yourself, but it doesn’t have to be outrageous! For a complex website or an eCommerce site, then yes, it will likely be expensive.
But, for a more simple website it won’t necessarily be expensive. We build affordable websites and manage them for our clients very affordably.
Hiring an experienced professional web designer or agency who knows how to design beautiful websites can help you avoid making costly mistakes in both form and function. They can also provide valuable advice on things like search engine optimization (SEO) for drawing in more potential clients.
For example, if you’re launching a new website for your small business, there are certain steps you should take during the planning stages that will greatly influence how successful your site becomes.
They will work with you every step of the way to help your website meet your goals and have expertise in many parts of web design that can help make your project successful. When you’re doing it yourself then you lack all the support of an expert.
Hybrid: Professional Build, You Manage
You don’t have to have web designers manage your site also. It is possible for them to build it and then for you to manage it. This usually isn’t cost-effective for you because most custom websites also have licenses involved. If you manage it yourself then you’re responsible for all licensing which could be more on its own than having them manage it.
If your website is relatively basic and doesn’t require any custom licenses, then it could be feasible for you to do it. Just be sure to educate yourself on what needs to be done every week and month. By doing it yourself and then not doing anything that isn’t going to save you any money. Your website will eventually run into an issue, and then you’ll be on your own.
The Pros and Cons of a Do It Yourself Website
There are some pros and some cons to a do it yourself website. This section will cover what those are with some details provided to help you decide if they really are a pro or con for you.
Some may be overall pros and cons but for you may not really be. So, read on and figure out for yourself if it’s really worth it to build your own website.
Ready for some pros? Here you go:
Sometimes it may be important for you to control the design closer up than having someone else do it. Maybe you’re a control freak, or maybe you actually have a good reason.
You know best about your business, and you likely will have to write the content about your business, so why not just build the website yourself?
That could be the case and building it yourself will definitely give you more control within the confines of the builder tool you use. Sometimes those confines are relatively small (port-o-potty), other times they are pretty huge (the world).
Aside from saving money, building your own website would make you completely non-reliant on a web designer or agency. You’ll have complete control over your website design, updating, and ongoing marketing efforts online.
See Your Design As You Build It
When you build a site using Squarespace, your site is always live and ready to share. Even as you design it, you’re likely seeing it as others will see it.
You don’t have to wait for another company or designer to complete work on your website before you can see it. When working in Squarespace’s Design View, everything gets built right before your eyes within the same interface that you use to create and style content.
If you’re building your website yourself then there’s absolutely no delay to when you get to see the final design. You build it, and you get to see it, immediately.
If you’re just getting started in your business and haven’t proven it’s profitable, then building your own website might be a good option. While it’s not typically free, it’s much more affordable than having someone else build it.
It’s also a good way to set up a proof of concept for your business and get started with the basics. The cost of building websites has decreased significantly with the creation of these new tools, which makes this option more feasible than ever before.
If you’re willing to trudge through a steep learning curve, then WordPress is even cheaper than any solution. Why? Because it’s completely free. You just have to provide the host, and you can install WordPress for $0, use a free theme, free plugins, and pay only for your host.
Total cost of ownership? As little as $3/month for hosting. Just don’t tell me you’re paying $3/month for hosting because you may make me vomit in my mouth just a bit.
On Your Time
Waiting on others is such a drag! Well, that is if you have a bad web designer who doesn’t communicate and takes forever to answer even an email if they ever do.
If you do it yourself and want to jump ahead of waiting for someone else, learning how to make a website may be something that interests you. If so, there are many resources available on the Internet that can help.
Your website will get built on your timeline (for better or for worse) and you can go at your own pace. If your deadline is next week, and you know how to do it, then you can.
Ready for some cons of building your own website? Yes, there are cons, so be sure to read through these doozies!
Building a website yourself isn’t easy. There’s the learning curve, the constantly evolving technology, dozens of different skills necessary to learn and contend with, and then when something breaks, ugh, you’re screwed. Hope you have a backup!
Web design is a dynamic industry that’s changing every day. Even platforms like WordPress are updated daily. Not a single day goes by where we’re not reviewing plugin releases, theme releases, security updates, etc.
It’s an ongoing process and then one update can break it all. If that’s not enough to give you anxiety then I don’t think anything will. Good for you!
When you do it yourself then you have to deal with all that crap. But we love it and that’s our life, so that’s what we’re here for.
Cookie Cutter Websites
DIY website builders, such as Wix and Weebly, typically offer a simple way to design your own site, but at a cost. You start with a pre-made template they provide, which includes the layout and features of the page.
Everybody else starts with the same templates they get to choose from. That means your website looks generic, made for the masses, and likely looks like hundreds of other websites out there. We have a policy of no templates because cookie cutter websites are a huge problem.
How do you expect your business to stand out if it looks like everyone else’s website online?
There’s only one step worse than having a major website builder template website, having a Google Business page website. Those are hideous and generic.
These templates are largely cookie cutter sites that have been used by hundreds or thousands of other people looking to create their own sites. If you want something truly unique, these websites may not be for you, but if you’re just looking for an easy way to get a professional look without paying someone else to do it for you, DIY may be for you!
Web design is a career that takes a long time to get good at. There’s so much to learn, and you’ll be constantly learning for the rest of your life. The industry is changing so fast that there are new things to learn even if you’ve been doing it for years.
Designing an entire website from scratch isn’t something most people have time or energy for, especially if they’re also trying to run their business. If you want your site to look as good as possible, then hire someone who does it full-time! They will put in the hours needed to do it right, deliver quickly (or at least on time), and charge relatively affordable rates (depending on how big and complex the project is).
If you’re prepared to take years to get your website just right and learn the necessary skills for a good website, go right ahead. It is a time sink as is most DIY things. It either takes a lot of time with lots of mistakes or it doesn’t turn out looking so good (like my neighbors DIY fence).
Or rather lack thereof.
Not all website builders are the same. WordPress is very different from Wix. They might look similar, but they have different features and limitations. This becomes apparent when you start customizing your site beyond just adding pages or posts with content.
Some website builder providers offer extensive pre-built designs under one roof while others let you build from scratch using basic tools. In both cases, there will be customization options available to further tweak your theme design or layout.
These customization options are extremely limited, though. You would think they offer all the customization of web design, but you’d be wrong. In order for these tools to appeal and be workable by the masses, they have to be dumbed down a lot.
Limited Search Engine Optimization
Don’t let them fool you. No matter how much website builders try to convince you that their SEO tools are as powerful as those on WordPress, they’re lying. WordPress has way more tools than any other tool available for SEO. Not only that, but WordPress is extremely search engine friendly right out of the box.
Search engine optimization is one thing you don’t want to be limited on. Without the best SEO tools it may be difficult to rank at the top of search results for important searches for your business. That will make or break your business website.
Without ranking in searches then it’s kind of difficult to be found by customers.
There are risks involved with doing any DIY project such as installing a HVAC system for your house yourself. It is not just that it may be difficult but also the chance of making mistakes can lead to violations of codes and even setting your house on fire.
Okay, I’ve never heard of a website causing any physical destruction. But, it can cause loss of business which can sometimes be worse depending on the value of the loss. A bad DIY website could cost you thousands of dollars every year in lost revenue.
While there aren’t building codes that have to be met for most websites, there are still risks involved in building your own website. You could experience data compromises by poor security which could mean legal trouble. Then you could also lose customers because your website is forgettable or not even findable.
Then there are things like accessibility which is always a good idea. There are small businesses that get sued because their website wasn’t accessible. This isn’t very likely, but it could happen. It’s definitely something worth considering and a good website designer will always consider it.
I wouldn’t install my own HVAC system because I’m not an expert. I haven’t spent my whole life installing HVAC systems therefore I would do a poor job. I might think I did a wonderful job, but a professional would look at it and scoff.
The same goes for a website. Doing it yourself is a huge risk at many levels.
How Do Website Builders Work?
When you’re ready to build your website with most website builder platforms like Wix and Weebly, the process is simple. First, you’ll pick a website template (most website builders offer hundreds of options) that fits with your business or personal needs and goals.
That’s good for ease of use but not good for uniqueness. Also, keep in mind a lot of the templates are built to look pretty but are slower than a snail.
Once you choose your template, then you can customize it by changing colors, fonts and images, adding different elements like text boxes or videos in specific spots where they fit best on any given page. This is where you make it your own, but it’s more like adding a coat of paint on a cookie cutter house, it can only do so much.
Most of the website builder tools require absolutely no coding but that also makes them very limited. Website builders make the whole design process accessible for everyone by creating templates that look professional but still allow users flexibility at every step along the way.
With tools like Wix and Weebly, everything is included in your website, including web hosting, the platform, security, and everything. It’s an all-in-one platform that manages and controls absolutely everything for you. Some of them even have email marketing built right int. That makes things simpler but more limited, and you can’t escape their control, and you don’t get the features you would with a focused platform.
You use a lot by using one of these tools, but you gain in other places.
Which option should you choose?
This is a difficult question but only one you can answer. Take a look at these two options and determine which one is best for you. Keep in mind that even if you try it yourself and fail, you aren’t stuck with your choice.
It’s unlikely any web designer would use what you created aside from text and images, but they can start from scratch on a better solution for you than a DIY platform.
You should hire a web designer if…
All the pros sound like cons, and you’re not techie enough to venture into doing it yourself. Or, it could be best to hire a web designer if you’re not so cocky you think web design is easy, and you can do it better than anyone else.
You’ll almost always get better results by working with a web designer as long as you choose the right one. You’ll get a more professional website that ticks more of your boxes.
Plus, it’s nice to have everything taken care of for you so you can work on your business rather than trying to learn another business.
You should use a DIY website builder if…
You don’t have a lot of money, aren’t ready to fully jump into your business, or simply don’t care about getting more customers but just need a website. Also, it can be pretty fun to learn a new skill, and who knows, maybe web design is your next calling?
If exploring a new skill and learning new tools interests you, and you have the time, a DIY website builder could be a good choice for you.
Is a do it yourself website really worth your time?
If you’re starting a website for your business or product, it’s important to consider whether creating the site yourself is really going to be worth your time. If you have absolutely no money to spend on a professional web design agency, then it’s worth it. You don’t really have any other options otherwise, do you?
But if you do decide that DIY is right for you, then be sure to at least consider these three things.
- Make sure your website looks great, functions well, and most of all loads fast. User experience is essential and should be at the forefront of your design process.
- Make it obvious to visitors what you do and where you do it. The goal of the website should be easy to understand anywhere on your website. If it’s difficult to convert, then your website is a complete waste.
- Pay attention to all your users. That means those with color blindness, disabilities, on a slow connection, or whatever. All visitors are important, and your website would be available to them all.
Ultimately, you’re the only one that can decide if building your own website is worth your time. In most cases it’s not as with most DIY projects, but in some cases it’s absolutely worth it.
I like to take care of my own yard and I get joy out of it. Plus, I designed my yard to be relatively maintenance free. If you extract joy from designing your website, and you’re pretty good at it, then go right ahead and do it yourself.
If you decide that building your own website isn’t for you, be sure to find a good web designer that knows what they’re doing (many don’t). They should also have many years’ experience but with skills that haven’t stagnated. We build affordable websites and have several affordable website plans (even for eCommerce!) that can fit almost any budget.