Consider building a new website like a new house building project. Many people have completed very successful self-builds but most of us would want the project handled by a professional. Even those who do take it upon themselves to build their dream home often find the need to draft in professionals for certain aspects. A house is an important part of our lives and a website is a key part of our businesses. If I were looking to build a new house, I’d want the end product to be as good looking, safe, efficient and durable as possible. As a web designer, my house building skills are about on a par with those of a slightly inebriated moose. I may like to think that throwing a few bricks together would be quite straightforward but we all know there is more to sound construction than that! Planning, location, structural design, development, adding all the key features and ‘goodies’, interior design, security, avoiding potholes through ignorance – there’s a heap of traps that can thoroughly ensnare the uninitiated.
Once my house is built, I want it to look fantastic. I want visitors to have a great first impression and then feel right at home once they cross the threshold. I want the design to ‘wow’ but, at the same time, feel familiar and comfortable. I don’t want to challenge visitors to play the ‘where the heck’s the bathroom’ game – only to find it’s been really cleverly hidden, in a cellar, near the shed.
Your website should follow similar rules. There is a saying in the world of web, “don’t make me think!” Visitors want to love your website from the get-go – and you’ve only got about 4 seconds to make that first “come on in” impression. They want to easily and comfortably find the information they need, follow your calls to action and quickly and safely buy what you’re selling.
Great websites, which actually attract and engage visitors don’t just happen. As with your new house building project, creating the perfect site takes thought, planning, technical expertise, knowledge of the industry, understanding of current trends, standards, legislation, and many more skills.
Most people hire building professionals to bring their idea of their perfect home to life as, like me, they possess neither the skills nor tools to make it happen on their own.
Your website is likely to be the most important part of your business marketing toolbox – it can literally make or break your business – so isn’t it safer to have this same building project mindset when it comes to creating your website?
I can build my website – for free!
Sure, of course it’s possible to build your own website. There are any number of companies offering ‘free’ website building tools. I saw two advertising on my TV last night. They tell you how simple it is. You can be online in minutes! And free is good, right?! Oh, wait a minute… TV adverts? They cost thousands, don’t they? How do companies pay for those then if they’re not making any money?
Yup, you guessed it. Not everything you need will always be ‘free’. Sure you CAN make a free website, but how will you know if it’s going to do the job? How will you know it’s got all the features you need to attract and keep visitors? You know how to plan the user experience and appropriate calls to action of course? Don’t worry, for just a few quid, your website builder platform can provide you with some great widgets that’ll do just what you need! Ecommerce, shipping, tax setup, security and payment gateways are a cinch aren’t they? Search engine optimisation, digital marketing, optimised content creation, site speed testing, making sure your site looks great on mobiles (nearly 70% of visitors will be doing the thumb thing on their mobile devices) – you’re comfortable with all that, right?
Remember, it’ll only take you a few minutes to build. Or hours. Or days. Or sometimes (yes we see it regularly) months. How much time can you take out of your business?
Although ‘DIY’ website creation platforms can be free and sometimes even fairly user-friendly, you could be pumping a lot of time into building a website that will end up looking ‘Okay’ or ‘Fine’. What is commonly forgotten however is that the companies providing these free ‘DIY’ platforms are well, companies. The way they make money is by littering everything with advertisements or getting the user to pay extra for bolt-ons to make the website ‘Okay +1’ or ‘Fine plus a bit.’
I wouldn’t want my shiny new house to be ‘fine plus a bit.’ What about you?
Advantages of using professional web design services.
Providing your website’s ‘Positive first impression’.
Hiring a professional web design agency will provide your business with an exclusive and unique website, which is more likely to engage traffic and portray your business in an effective way. Your website is your prime shop window. It needs to look great, establish and build on your brand and encourage your customers to want to engage with you and, ultimately feel comfortable paying you real money for your products or services.
A professional web designer will have created a lot of websites in the past, and for a range of different industries, which means they will know what works and what doesn’t. Experts in the latest technologies, legislation, security requirements and digital marketing, your designer should be a key partner in the marketing of your business. They can help you create, build and establish your brand, advise on a digital strategy, design and manage your online presence and work with you to help grow your customer base – while giving you the time to do what you do best, run and build your business!
Although increased traffic isn’t directly proportional to increased sales…… it does help. Some ‘DIY’ companies do offer basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and traffic analytics tools but, professional ‘Don’t do it yourself’ design agencies can offer experience and more advanced SEO and marketing services, which provide you with increased chances of generating more traffic, an increased market presence and potentially increased sales.
Time v Cost
Yes, of course using a professional to build your website is more expensive than going the DIY route. Isn’t it?
Well, building a house yourself is cheaper too but does that mean anyone will want to visit it?
And what about time? How much is your time really worth? It’s not really free, is it? Isn’t that rare commodity more profitably spend on building your business rather than devoting potentially days or weeks creating a ‘Fine plus or minus a bit’ website that customers may visit, and quickly leave?
People are getting very wise to the ploys and scams of unscrupulous online traders and expectations from website users have never been so high.
Trust is really important, especially if your website intends to sell products and services. It’s very easy for folk to tell when a website looks ‘home-made’ or amateur. You’ll have seen these yourself. If you have a professionally designed website, you will gain the trust of the people visiting your site. Confidence that the site they are visiting is trustworthy is essential. Once a visitor feels comfortable on your site, they are much more likely to hang around and interact with your business. Which would you trust more, a car bought from a dodgy, back-street used car showroom or one from a professional, franchised dealer with up-market, modern, gleaming premises with all the support services in place?
So, in summary…
Whether you decide to build your website DIY-fashion or get a professional designer involved is a matter of choice and probably dictated by your needs. If you’re building a small community project site, then the DIY approach could be a good option. However, if you are looking to drive your business via your website, your site needs to be the best it can be. If it’s not at least as good, or preferably better than the competition, why should new site visitors choose to do business with you? If you visit two websites depicting businesses in the same area and industry and one has that ‘Wow!” factor and the other looks a bit home-made and limp, which business are you going to engage with first? Okay, maybe I’ve written this article from a slightly biased point of view, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who would rather have someone with a bit of expertise build my perfect new home for me, allowing me the time to focus on what I need to be doing. Which, right now, is getting the conservatory roof replaced. I’ll be calling a builder…