INDUSTRY NEWS & INSIGHTS
By James Bullis | October 26, 2021
DIY vs. Professional Website Design: What’s the Difference?
You’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about a WordPress website for your independent consultancy. You might even have thought about investing in a professional website design.
The more you reason, the more it becomes clearer that a website is not something you want. It’s something you need.
Now your evenings are spent daydreaming about the potential. Oh! We almost forgot the wine. In between the sips you’re thinking of:
- The larger audience your independent consultancy will be able to reach
- The more conversion a website will be able to bring
- Building your brand through your website
- Leveraging content marketing for business growth
Now comes the question of “who will bell the cat” or better yet, who will build your website. Think about it: a few YouTube tutorials, and you could build yourself a WordPress website.
Alternatively, you could hire a pro to build your website. You know, like the guys who build websites for a living. However, there’s a catch. It costs money.
DIY vs. Professional Website Design
WordPress is a powerful web design tool that businesses and independent contractors alike use to design their websites.
Powering more than 42% of the internet, there are fewer places better than WordPress you’d go for designing your website.
With WordPress, you can easily build the website yourself. This is by leveraging website builder apps that leverage no-code or low code technology.
On the other hand, you could outsource the website development to a professional company.
Depending on your website, this will set you back anywhere between $500 and $10,000.
A few questions to help you with this dilemma include:
- What type of website am I trying to build?
- What is my skill level in website development?
- Do I have the time (and dedication) to build a website?
On a scale of 1-10:
- How important is this website to my business?
- How crucial is data privacy and security to my business?
- How relevant is my business to website security?
- What is my skill level in website development?
- How many years am I planning to leverage this website?
Some of the Factors to Consider to Help You Make an Informed Decision
Before you settle on a Do It Yourself (DIY) or Done For You (DFY) website, there are a few factors to consider for the sake of perspective.
It’s crucial to remember that there isn’t one single better option. It all comes down to your circumstances.
1. What Your Web Design Budget is
The amount of resources you’re willing to spend on your WordPress website will help you choose the path for its development.
If you have an excess of resources, then there’s nothing stopping you from investing in a professional website design.
On the other hand, if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on a website, going the DIY route may serve as the best option.
2. How Much Web Design Experience You Have
To build a website on your own, you need some level of web design and coding experience. In some instances, even knowing intricacies such as user requirements may require the informed opinion of a professional.
Above that, you still have to consider if you are willing to take classes to become better at web development before going the DIY route.
3. The Type of Website You Want to Build
There are different types of websites, each with its level of complexity and features. The website you’re building for your practice will impact the path you take for its development.
Your website could most likely be a:
- Brochure website
A brochure website is the most basic type of website. Often, your brochure website will display the services your business offers together with reviews, testimonials, and product information.
- E-commerce website
An e-commerce website is more complicated than a simple brochure website. Here, you leverage your website to trade goods and services to an online audience.
As such, your e-commerce website needs to be able to handle financial transactions through a gateway, update inventory in real-time, and comply with data security regulations.
- Web Application
The most complex websites are web applications. These are websites that can link, sync, and perform the functions of a computer application. Such websites include online calculators, search engines, and comparison sites.
4. The Features You’d Like Your Website to Have
No two websites are created equal. That said, before deciding on what path you’re going to take for your website (DIY vs. professional website design), it’s crucial to decide on the features necessary for its operation.
Your website could have:
- A real-time chatbot
- Live order status
- Push notifications
The more features your website needs to operate, the more you should lean towards professional website design in place of DIY web development.
5. The Amount of Website Maintenance
The race doesn’t stop once you’ve finished designing your website. On the contrary, that’s when the work begins.
Your website is a living entity subject to frequent changes, adjustments, and updates. This brings us to one question. You’re willing to build your website, but are you willing to maintain it?
As a rule of thumb, having the people who built your website maintain it goes a long way in preventing future complications.
Do It Yourself (DIY) WordPress Website Building
Unlike decades ago, you can now build a website without having a clue about HTML or what it stands for.
This is thanks to the dozens of website builder apps with simple, intuitive drag and drop interfaces.
Nonetheless, taking the DIY approach comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of DIY Website Building
Building a website by yourself comes with a lot of benefits. That’s why it’s a consideration for many in the first place. Some of the advantages of building your website include:
1. It’s a Learning Experience
The jury on whether coding is fun is still out there, as building a website means different things to different people.
Like everybody else, you probably aspire to learn new things.
If you can learn to play an instrument, fly a plane, and speak a few foreign languages, what’s stopping you from learning website design and development?
2. You Can Manage Your Timeline
Most independent contractors, like you, are people who value doing things on their terms. DIY website design allows you to do just that.
The DIY approach is a hands-on process that puts you in charge of your budget, design features, and, most importantly, timeline.
With the timeline in your hands, you can choose to work weekends and nights, hence having your website sooner. Alternatively, you can stop, join Musk in his quest for Mars, and resume once you’re done. It’s all you.
3. A Sense of Accomplishment
One thing that most independent contractors share is the pride in their creation. There’s probably a moment every evening as you leave when you stop, look back at what you’ve built and feel a sense of pride.
Designing your website will fill you with a sense of pride. The best part is probably when your friends ask who built the website, and you smile before telling them.
4. It’s Relatively Cheap
Often, DIY website development will always be cheaper than professional website design. To keep it that way, ensure to watch for incremental costs when designing your website; they add up fast.
With the customization of web design, you get to leave out non-essential parts of your website that only serve to add to the cost.
Cons of DIY Website Development
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” — Jurassic Park, 1993.
When it comes to DIY website building, the question should not be whether you can. In this day and age, anyone, regardless of their experience, can develop a website.
However, the question you should ask yourself is whether you should. And these are a few points to put it into perspective:
1. Less Authenticity (Cookie Cutter Design)
If you end up using popular web builders like Wix (which you probably will), you may end up using the same themes as other DIY web developers.
Not surprisingly, the best and most functional themes in DIY web builders also double as the most overused.
This way, when bragging to your friend Paul about the website you just built, he’ll pull out his phone and show you his DIY site, which looks exactly the same.
2. Security Concerns
WordPress is an open-source software. In open-source software, the source code is public access and can be modified by anyone.
Being an open-source web development platform makes WordPress more vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially if the websites are not expertly designed. As such, going the DIY route for a WordPress website may expose your website to vulnerability.
3. The Risk of Being too Cheap for Your Own Good
Picture this. You walk into a car yard to be sold the “hottest pair of wheels in America.” The salesman says it’s a 2012 Escalade, V8 engine, leather seats, and chrome wheels that cost a whopping $1800 (negotiable).
Would you buy the Cadillac?
In website building, cheap is equally expensive. In fact, the cheaper your website is from average, the more worried you should be. Building a website yourself can be the cheapest option out there, but note that it comes at a price (pun intended)
4. You Are Your Customer Support
Whenever your car breaks down, you get the luxury of driving it to the dealership for them to fix it. It’s their problem now. Ever imagined a scenario where your car breaks down on a busy Monday morning, only that you built it yourself?
The same applies to websites. For a website you build yourself, only you (and a few people) can fix it when it’s down.
Most DIY website builders offer limited customer support and forums. However, that is no match for the customer support professional builders provide. For professional websites, you get to call the professionals to troubleshoot on your behalf.
5. It Can Eat Into Your Productive Time
You’re probably a busy person; the way you’re skimming through this blog gives you away. That established, by building your website by yourself, you may end up wasting time you could’ve spent on more rewarding and productive activities.
6. Lengthy Learning Curve
Depending on the type of website you’re developing, you may end up taking too long to build. If DIY TV shows and fixer-uppers are anything to go by, DIY projects never stick to their pre-set timelines. DIY website projects are no exception.
If you intend to have a fully functioning website in three months, there’s a lot of things that may come up within those months. Don’t be surprised to finish it next year or end up not finishing it at all.
When Is Going the DIY Route Commendable?
DIY website building comes with a rather long list of disadvantages. That’s expected since building anything with a non-professional will always come with an excess of risks and uncertainty.
However, don’t rule out DIY website development yet. There are some circumstances where building your website is a better option. These include:
1. Where You Have Web Development Experience
If you’re a software engineering student, web developer, or someone with experience in web development, some of the DIY website development concerns may not apply to you.
Here, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all quantity or a select number of years for experience. You just have to be honest with yourself.
2. Where Your Website Isn’t System Critical
There are system-critical websites and those that a business can run comfortably without. For example, an e-commerce website is a system-critical asset that the business can’t run without.
However, a restaurant may want to create a brochure website solely for its menu. For most restaurants, a complimentary online menu isn’t system critical.
That said, there’s no need for the restaurant to spend $3,000 on a single-page menu. This makes the DIY approach more favorable in this instance.
3. Where Your Budget Makes DIY a Better Option
For some independent contractors, budgetary limitations may force them to take the DIY route. For example, only a few professional website designers are willing to work with a budget of $100.
In such a case, going the DIY route may be a temporary solution until the contractor can raise funds to outsource their web development.
On the opposite spectrum, an independent contractor with a $2 million budget can afford to have an in-house team build the website on her behalf.
Professional Website Design
On the other end of the spectrum is professional website design. Here, you outsource your web development to people who’ve been developing websites since back when Jeff Bezos had hair.
Professional web developers have experience and stakes in this industry. Above that, web development is their specialty and investment.
However, can a professional web developer beat the raw passion and sheer dedication of a DIY dad or mom behind their computer in flip flops and pajamas?
Let’s find out:
Pros of Professional Website Design
Letting the pros handle your website has a lot of benefits. First, you encourage specialization. (Does Henry Ford and the Model T ring a bell?)
In specialization, everybody in your business gets to work on what they’re good at. This way, you end up with a more productive workforce and better quality of service.
Apart from specialization, some advantages of professional website design include:
1. More Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Functionality
Professional web design, unlike DIY, leads to a better SEO experience for your business. Professionals build your website with its future utility in mind, most importantly SEO.
The difference between DIY and DFY development is that the former sees web design as a destination (a goal that one can achieve), as the latter sees it as a journey.
Once you have your website, you will need SEO to market your products through content marketing. If you hadn’t thought of that beforehand, you’re back to square one.
2. Get a Unique Design for Your Business
Unlike most DIY designers, professional web developers are not bound by the limitations of web-development builders like Wix and Squarespace.
That said, professional web developers can build your website using themes and widgets that only your website has.
Above that, you can give your developers custom preferences on what you want your website to look like.
With this comes authenticity, which helps your practice build trust with your clients.
3. Get a Mobile Optimized-Website
According to the statistics, about 50% of your traffic will be from smartphones and alternative devices. That said, building a DIY website and optimizing it for mobile are different things altogether.
Professional web designers are in a better place to build mobile-optimized websites that won’t leave half of your customers behind.
4. Higher Chances of a Customer-Centric Website
When building a DIY website, you run into the risk of kicking customer centricity to the curb. You’d be surprised at how easily your principles and prejudices slip into the design.
For example, you may end up using your favorite font for the website, which is outside the scope of most of your readers.
Alternatively, you may end up using your favorite color for a background, oblivious to the fact that nobody else likes it (pale yellow). Even worse, these things happen subconsciously without you noticing.
Professional web designers know their way around these prejudices and are your best bet for customer-centricity and unbiased web design.
Cons of Professional Website Design
With that in mind, professional web design isn’t perfect. Like DIY, it comes with its fair share of disadvantages. These include:
1. The Cost Is Often Concern
Remember, nobody likes money leaving their pockets. You, like everyone else, prefer it the other way round.
However, given the options, finding a web developer that fits your budget isn’t that complex once you make a few compromises.
2. Choosing a Developer Is Tough
Once you settle on the DFY option, you now have to choose a developer, which can be challenging. Given the accessibility of information, website development is one field with the highest ease of entry.
Many people watch a few YouTube tutorials, promote themselves to professional web developers, and now want to build your website for $7000.
You’re better off building the website itself, instead of having a mediocre developer build it on your behalf. Fortunately, there are several signs and red flags that will help you tell the difference between the two.
When Is Going the DFY Route Commendable?
Despite the cost of professional website design, there isn’t a shortage of circumstances that make DFY web design the better option.
1. A Website With Heavy Maintenance
The more features your website has, the heavier the maintenance you should expect. By some sheer luck, you may manage to build an e-commerce website from scratch.
However, you may not be as lucky when it comes to maintenance.
For these reasons, websites that have heavy maintenance are better left to professionals. Most DFY professionals have a maintenance team on standby 24/7 to maintain and keep your website running.
2. A System-Critical Website
For system-critical websites, you can’t afford to risk building them on your own, especially if you have zero experience.
For an e-commerce website, where the entire business is built on the website, a mediocre design may end up causing irreparable damage.
System critical websites are prone to security vulnerabilities and are often a target to experienced cybercriminals who use complex malware.
3. Where Data Security Is A Concern
For independent contractors that deal with people’s private information, ensuring data security is a legal requirement.
For websites under HIPAA regulations and several other privacy regulations, having professionals build them is the better option.
A professional website not only assures your clients that their data is safe but also helps your practice with regulatory compliance.
DIY vs. Professional Website Design: The Verdict
DIY website design is essential. In fact, everybody should build a website at least once in their lives. With that in mind, you can use the DIY approach to build every other website but your business site.
When it comes to business websites, leave it to the pros, and let them do the heavy lifting as you focus on more productive aspects of your business.
Where to Go From Here
Building a website can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why you need professional insight to give you perspective.
For that, look no further than Ventin Web Solutions for all things web design. We’ve spent the past few decades making professional website design dreams a possibility for independent contractors.
Contact us today and our teams will be more than willing to help.
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