Most people will laugh and dismiss the idea out of hand. “Ridiculous!:” they’ll say. “Dentists study for years to be capable of the work they do!”
So very true. Why, then, do people think they can build their own website?
Well, part of the problem is the very low barrier to entry. Unlike dentists, who have to be licensed, and who spend thousands on education and equipment, anyone with a computer can set themselves up as a web designer.
And if you don’t want to even learn the basics of code, there are dozens of “free” do-it-yourself websites flooding the internet.
But are they really free? Let’s take a look at the hidden costs involved. (Let’s remember “tanstaafl” – there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.)
How much is your time worth to you? How much research are you going to do to see what your competitors are doing, to figure out the right keywords to reach your target market, to developing a colour palette that will be consistent throughout the site while maintaining enough differentiation between the pages to keep it interesting for your visitors?
If you are going to devote hours and hours to creating a website, is the end result worth the time you’re spending? And honestly, it’s going to take you hours and hours to create a site that is different enough to stand out from the hundreds of others using that same template. And you do want to stand out, don’t you? Or else what’s the point?
You may own the content, but you don’t really own the site. The template design, layout, many of the images, and in most cases the domain name belong to the “free” site. Try moving away from them and see how difficult it can be. Chances are that template is designed for use ONLY with that DIY site, and you can’t take it with you if you want to leave.
One word: disaster. Google, Bing and all the other search engines regularly update their algorithms to try to ensure that search results are relevant. More and more they are trending toward “organic” results based on originality.
If you’re using a template from a DIY site, these sites are known to the major search engines, which means they will consistently rank lower on the search results than an original design on your own domain. In fact, many DIY websites are still being built using a system based on Adobe Flash, a technology that makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for the search engines to index the site!
Basically if you want effective SEO from your DIY website, you’ll need to do some homework – refer to #1 in this list.
You want to use your own domain instead of www.freesite.yourdomain.com? Sure! That’ll be anywhere from about $9 to about $29 a month.
You don’t want ads on your site? Of course! Another monthly fee.
E-commerce? Absolutely! Just pay a percentage of every single sale, and possibly a monthly charge as well depending on how many products you are listing.
Mobile visibility? Another few dollars a month will get you seen on smartphones and tablets. But if the site is being made using Flash, forget being seen on anything that starts with an “i-“, since most Apple devices don’t recognize Flash any more than the search engines do.
You’re kidding, right? These sites all have FAQ areas where they try to address common problems and questions. Anything not addressed in the FAQ most likely will require you to submit your problem through a “ticket” process (basically a time-stamped email). This is usually a very long process, and can be as long as 24 to 48 hours between communications.
If your requirements are at all unique, or if your site crashes or is hacked, you will probably find your self on your own, researching the answer yourself (again, refer to #1 on this list).
The fact is, professional web design will save you money (and possibly your sanity!) in the long run. Here’s why:
- As a professional, I have spent years learning and developing my skills, and I spend time every week keeping current with changes in the industry, so you don’t have to.
- Every site I create belongs to the client, not to me, and they are free to do whatever they like with it.
- I know how to research the keywords you need to be found by the search engines, whether your business is local or global.
- I don’t charge extra for your domain name, there is no advertising on the sites I create (unless you want to implement an ad campaign of your own).
- I know that if your business is located in Quebec, and you are offering goods and/or services in Quebec, by law you must have either a completely French, or a bilingual website.
- If you have a question, a problem, or an idea that you want to discuss, I’m available to you by telephone seven days a week.
So decide for yourself – is the cost of saving money really worth it? Or are you going to try to be your own dentist?