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Should You Ever Build Your Own Website?

You’re probably aware of DIY website building services like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. These services allow you to create your own website by dragging and dropping elements onto the webpage. These elements, such as text boxes, images, and graphics, fit into a pre-created design.


The question is: Are there times when you should use a “Build-It-Yourself” web service instead of having a custom website developed?


The answer (coming from a custom web developer) might surprise you. My answer is a definite YES!


Under certain circumstances, it’s impossible to beat what the DIY services allow you to do and you’d be crazy to try to with a custom built site. Those circumstances are pretty specific though.


When should you use a DIY service to build a website? Most commonly, when you have multiple content contributors. What does that mean? An example is better than an explanation here: There’s a neighborhood here in San Antonio that has an extraordinarily high number of artists living in it. In November of each year they open their home studios and allow visitors to tour (and purchase) their works of art. They have a website that has a few common pages (a Home page and a News page), but the rest are artist’s pages. Each artist has their own page where they can put pictures of their artwork, an About section, and contact information. Each year I set up these pages for the artists and then they go into their own page and upload and enter the content. To try to build this from scratch would be incredibly time consuming and costly.


Another example is when a website is needed for informational purposes only. I have heard of some churches setting up a DIY page for their online order of service bulletin. Each week the music coordinator logs on and types in the music information, the pastor logs on and types in the sermon title and scripture text, and so on – each part on the page is populated by the appropriate leader. With this arrangement, no one person has to track down all the information from multiple people each week.


I once had a client whose business was literally dying – they had absolutely no money for a custom site. I spent a few hours showing them how to use a DIY website builder and they were able to build at least an online presence. The plan was to build a “real” website when things improved. Did it save their business? No, it didn’t. But it was because there were much deeper business problems that were greater than not having a website. However, this strategy would probably have worked if those other problems could have been solved.


Are there other times when a DIY service should be used? Probably. But care must be taken to make sure using a DIY service doesn’t end up costing you the valuable advantages a custom website gives you.


When should you NOT use a DIY service to build a website? We understand the attraction of a DIY website. It seems like a great bargain, they’re not expensive, and their designs are attractive. But there’s much more to a successful website than having a pretty design. One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is what you want your website to do for you. This is where your website strategy begins, and that strategy impacts almost every aspect of your website’s development. However, a DIY service isn’t going to help you with developing a successful website strategy. Nor are they going to help you build a communication framework. DIY websites don’t care how clear or compelling your message is and they won’t help you formulate your webpage content.  The fact is, there won’t be anyone there to guide you through any of the processes needed to produce a website that creates a connection between you and your visitor.


When you don’t have a solid website strategy or a clear and compelling message, the result is confusion, frustration, and a lack of results. This is where DIY services fail. The bottom line is if DIY websites gave their owners the results they need, everyone would be using them exclusively. But they don’t in most cases. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their place though.


How to decide whether to use a DIY service:


  1. Determine what you want your website to do for you. Are you simply sharing basic information? Or do you need your website to have an impact or help you connect with your visitors. If it’s strictly for information sharing, then it’s a good candidate for a DIY website. But exclusively information-sharing websites are fairly rare, so make sure that’s all you really want it to do.


  1. Do you need to have the ability to have multiple content contributors? If number one is true and this is true, then you’re looking at a golden opportunity to use a DIY website.


  1. Ask yourself what your visitors are expecting to see. Are they going make judgments about you or your organization based on what they see on your website? Will they be able to tell you’ve used a DIY service? I once ran across a website where there was a section that literally said, “Place your text here.” There were other clues too, but how many of your visitors would want to do business with an organization that was that unprofessional?


If you think you might have a situation where a DIY website would be the best option, go ahead and set up a free consultation with us. We’ll be more than happy to give you an honest evaluation and help you make a good decision. And while you’re on our website, be sure to download our free special offer, The Three Things Your Website Must Do to Succeed, and How to Make Them Happen. It’s packed with great insights on how to achieve website success.


At Drake Web Development, our goal is to help you have a successful website that gives you exactly the results you want. Sometimes that will mean helping you build a new website, but at other times our best advice may be to tweak your current website or even build a DIY. Whatever the situation, we promise to always give you honest and straight advice.

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