Pros and Cons of Building Your Own Website

Money – we all want it and want to spend as little of it as possible. We intrinsically know that we can save a substantial amount of money if we do the work ourselves. We do it when we are renovating our homes, or performing basic auto repairs, or selling our homes privately. This desire to save money and tackle projects yourself has spawned the whole Do-It-Yourself industry. Why should building a website be any different?

On the surface it looks easy enough.

Whether you are a recent or long-time business owner, your marketing strategy may include creating a new website for your business in the near future. But, websites cost money and as we all know, profits diminish with every additional dollar spent.  This line of thinking may make you conclude to build your website yourself and why not?

On the surface it looks easy enough. Write some text, include a few pictures, throw in some HTML and CSS to pull it all together, or using free templates available on the internet you can just insert your text, and voila, you have a website. How hard can that be?

Let’s begin by looking at some of the benefits of building your own website:

  1. Learning Something New: If you tackle a project that you have never done before, it becomes an educational experience. In order to do something yourself, you need to do research and educate yourself so that you know what the best practices are, what software you’ll need,  and the steps involved to complete the task. If you have the time and the interest you can take courses, read books on the subject, perhaps browse a few websites for additional information, and maybe interrogate a friend or two for some advice. Upon mastering HTML, CSS, Javascript and possibly Flash, as well as learning how to use graphics software such as Photoshop or InDesign, you will have learned to appreciate just how much work it really is.
  2. Flexibility: If you have acquired all the skills you need to build a website then you can make it exactly the way you want, and change the look of it whenever you want without any additional cost.
  3. Save Money: This is usually the number one motivator as this is the only quantifiable benefit that demonstrates you have accomplished (whereas the previously mentioned benefits are purely non-tangible reasons for doing it). If you successfully accomplish the task to your satisfaction, depending on the complexity of the website, you could end up saving yourself thousands of dollars.
  4. Sense of Accomplishment: You know the feeling you get when accomplishing something new – that sense of exhilaration, pride and well-being.  Well, creating an effective and attractive website on your own can be a lot like that. If you can enjoy the process as much as the final product, then that makes the sense of accomplishment all that much sweeter.

These are all great reasons for building your own website,  but now let’s look at some of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to build your website yourself:

  1. It’s Time Consuming: Gaining the knowledge and learning the skills required to build a proper, standards-compliant website can take a significant amount of time. The question you need to ask yourself is, would that time be better spent focusing my attention on making money through my business instead? In a previous article we estimated that a basic but attractive website with a lifespan of 5 years would cost $89 or less per month. Time spent on your business, rather than the website, will surely yield more than this relatively modest cost.
  2. It May Look Unprofessional: This is a common result with many do-it-yourself projects. The task begins with a grand vision and the best of intentions but the finished product looks nothing like what you imagined it would. You may find that your website looks disorganized, there is no consistency among the various pages, photos and text don’t line up, and everything looks completely jumbled on different web browsers. Essentially, it lacks the polish and professionalism that you would like. Appearance does matter, and studies have shown that visitors are more likely to return to a clean and attractive site then they are to an unappealing one.
  3. It Looks Like Hundreds of Other Websites: Free templates, such as the ones that are used for weblogs can be very attractive. But you can be sure that countless other individuals and organizations will be using that template as well. If you are marketing a business through your website you will want it to be unique. What if every radio or TV commercial used the same actor, script and staging and all they did was insert a different company name into their dialogue? People would ignore the commercials completely! An effective website reflects the uniqueness of your business and is designed to appeal to your target client.
  4. It Doesn’t Work Properly: This is a common problem when creating your own website. Just like any professional, whether they are an electrician, accountant, or auto mechanic there are bits of wisdom that they have acquired through experience. Even the best web designers can become temporarily stumped by a tricky bit of code, but they have the professional network and skills to find a solution for it. This type of knowledge is not readily evident when you attempt something as a novice, but the problems it can cause will definitely manifest itself after the fact. This usually results in a lot of hair-pulling and frustration in an attempt to resolve the problem, with some people ultimately calling in an experienced professional to fix it.

These are but a few of the pros and cons of building your own website. The choice to build your own website is ultimately up to you but do yourself a favour and seriously weigh the pros and cons before you start. Whatever you decide, make sure it is the right decision for you.

Have you built your own website? What were your experiences like? Please leave a comment.