The internet has undoubtedly given people and brands huge advantages especially as technology has become more user friendly. It’s not just the open access to information that is helping, it’s the access to tools. Building websites was previously a skill reserved for the wizards that we now call developers who would sit in a darkened, quiet room somewhere creating websites that appeared on a users browser like magic. Nobody but the elite coders and technology nerds really understood how it all worked. Making changes to your website had to be scheduled and quoted and, in some cases the costs to you or your business were so high that it simply wasn’t commercially viable. Cut to present day and you have a myriad of tools available to you that require little to no technical knowledge allowing anyone to create a website and put it on the internet for all to see in a matter of hours. Companies such as WordPress, Squarespace and Wix all offer this ability at the very core of their business not to mention every hosting company offering their own version of a website builder. The ability to do this obviously has many benefits and access to tools and information can’t be a bad thing. It has happened across the internet with the likes of YouTube allowing anyone to distribute video, or twitter giving everyone a voice. It is clear though that just because someone can post a video or a tweet, it doesn’t mean they should. The majority of YouTube content is not high quality, well lit, beautifully shot footage. The same applies with websites. Just because you can build a website without any technical knowledge, it doesn’t mean you should. Build your own website software in the right hands can produce really great results. In the wrong hands, you might end up with something that is bad enough that it would be better if it didn’t exist at all. Building a website is about much more that putting information on a page as and when it comes to you. It is not a case of taking a picture on your phone, throwing it in between some text and hoping for the best. There are so many things non-technical things that can go wrong when building a website, that expecting anyone to get it right first time just because they have the tools to do it is insane. It would be like giving me a wrench and somehow believing that I now have the ability to fix my car. The result of that endeavour would simply be a broken car and potentially a lost wrench. When you hire a company to build a website, it can be very expensive. What you are really hiring is a team of people with different expertise that when bought together give you all of the knowledge you need to structure, design, build and test a website.
If you were to hire an agency, you could have all of the following people helping to build your website:
- Account Manager (to keep you updated and make you feel good)
- Project Manager (to set the schedule and make sure it’s all on budget)
- UX Specialist (user experience is all about making sure your site will make sense to your audience, is easy to use and achieves what you want it to)
- Designer (Works with the UX person the make sure everything looks and feels great and is on brand.
- Developer (or two. Usually someone who does the pretty bit you see and someone who does all of the “back end” work that makes the site function)
- Tester (who makes sure everything looks and works as it should
If you are wondering why an agency charges so much for even simple websites, this is a big part of it. The above is just for a simple site and there are many other roles that can appear should things get bigger and more complex. When you build a website yourself, you are expecting to be able to understand the majority of these roles, their functions and their expertise which often gained over years and years of experience. In order to build a website that looks good and also works well for your business, you either have to be willing to put the work in, or willing to get some help doing it. WordPress and Squarespace give you the ability to drag and drop lots of different elements onto a page without a second thought.
What it doesn’t give you is the ability to understand:
- How users will interact with those elements
- How they will go about buying your products or services
- If the information is clear and concise
- If pages are too long or too short
- How search engines will view and rank your site
- How to drive traffic to your website
- How to create a user journey
- etc. etc. etc.
There are so many things to consider and if you don’t even know you are supposed to consider them, then it’s not even something you can get more information on. My point is, having a paintbrush doesn’t make you an artist. If you really want to learn how to build websites then over time, with practice you will probably get really good at it, however, unless the goal of your business is to build websites then this shouldn’t be your focus. Getting a website built doesn’t have to be really expensive and time consuming. What most businesses need is a simple website that represents who they are, what they do and a clear path for the user to convert i.e. get in touch, sign up or make a purchase. Your website is important. The first place people go to find products or services is a search engine. If your website isn’t present then you are potentially losing huge amounts of business. Your website is an investment. It should be paying for itself and putting money in your pockets 24 hours a day. If it isn’t then get in touch.