What does a web designer do? Making your own website free VS hiring a website designer
Part Three (B) of The Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners
Welcome to the second installment of the third episode of this Guide series teaching small business owners handle a website project. This Guide has outlined why websites are so important, how to plan for a great website, how much you can get within your budget, and will continue to cover important choices you’ll be making as well as how to get started with online marketing that won’t break the bank.
Here’s a quick overview on choosing whether to make your own website or hire a web designer:
- Setting a budget and knowing what it can get you (covered in a previous post)
- Knowing what you need
- Comparing the pro’s and con’s
- Understanding the benefit of getting involved
- Taking the first steps
In the beginning of this section we went over budgets and how they might determine whether you want to actually look into getting a designer rather than learning to do it on your own.
Today we’ll be going over some of the other things to take into consideration when making that decision.
Know how complicated what you need actually is.
Too many times I’ve had a client come to me saying “This should be an easy website for someone with the right experience. I expect no more than 4 hours of work at maybe $40/hour” only to go on to describe a website that 1) hasn’t been thought through and 2) is way more work than it sounds to someone who has no website experience.
If you want any more than a few pages with information that never changes (text and still images) such as a Home page, an About page, and a Contact Information page… then your website is not as simple as you think. Anything more complicated requires a lot more thought and effort. How will dynamic content be managed? How will contact forms be handled? Every thing needs to be accounted for.
If you find yourself adding “…and on this page I’d like for…” to the end of every other request, then you’re not asking for something simple. A lot of small requests quickly adds up to one big request.
The more complex your request is, the more per hour you’re going to be expected to pay.
Think about a bridge builder. If he’s an expert and really good at his job, you automatically assume he’s going to be paid very well – even for a simple job, and more so for bigger projects. The same goes for a website designer or developer. Even if you’re hiring for what seems like a simple job, you shouldn’t expect to pay less money just because you think it will be easy for that person to do. You’re paying for expertise, not just a few hours of unskilled labor.
The pros and cons of handling a website project yourself vs. allowing a designer to take the lead.
You Hire A Designer/Developer
- Will cost you more money out of pocket
- Hard to find a reliable, affordable, decent designer/developer
- You will not understand your website or how it should be run
- You will have to pay ongoing fees for website maintenance
- You are taking the risk of wasting money and time on a website that doesn’t suit your needs
- You will be confused about what to do once the project is finished
- You do not need to invest the time to learn anything new
You Do It Yourself
- You will have to invest time and effort learning the ins and outs of a website
- You will save money on hiring an expensive designer/developer
- You will always know what your website is capable of
- You have complete control to make updates and changes immediately
- You will know a good web designer/developer when you see one because you know more than a rookie
- You can make educated decisions for your website based on hands-on experience
- Your website will always be improving in its effectiveness as you learn more and more about what works for you and your small business
The answer seems obvious when it’s laid out this way: do it yourself. Or at least handle the bulk of your website yourself and let a professional designer step in as needed to provide unique design and input – but only to fill the gaps that you can’t fill without years of education and practice. First you see if there is someone who can guide your way to help you learn it yourself, and if that isn’t possible it’s time to hire a third party to do the work.
Chances are that eventually you will end up recruiting a professional designer or developer when you’ve reached a level where you truly understand how they are helping you and why you need them, instead of blindly having them take over your website from start to finish. This way you are using them as a tool which you know how to use to increase your return on investment, rather than as an arbitrary method of putting together something crude that may or may not work for you. Your website is for your business, and thereforeyou are the one who should be starting and managing the project since it is something that will never really be finished.
Why you should get involved in your website.
It’s true, your website is never really going to be finished. It is a living thing that will need to adapt to user input, business needs, and new web standards.
Your website will go through phases, changes and updates. These things can be overwhelming or they can be simple. If you don’t take the time to learn the essentials of a website, every little change and update will feel irritating, overwhelming and like a waste of time to you. However, if you can learn to truly understand the potential of a website and how it should be handled, making changes will only seem natural and will be an exciting adventure to you.
Okay, okay, stop talking about all this and tell me what to do.
You’re sick of hearing all the benefits. You’re ready to take the plunge.
Are you hiring a designer right off the bat? Then take the following steps:
- Take the time to plan for your website. The handling of a designer/developer will be infinitely easier if you’ve properly prepared.
- Do your research. How much does a website cost? Understand what you can afford with your budget.
- Re-evaluate whether you should be doing this yourself.
- Reach out to your network for referrals to reliable and talented designers.
- Get your website built.
Are you going to take the plunge and do things yourself? Good for you! You’ll want to take the following steps:
- Plan, plan, plan for your website.
- Research open source software (i.e. FREE) such as WordPress or Magento, depending on your website needs.
- Learn about what domains are, what hosting is, and how to get them set up.
- If necessary, hire someone to get you started in the right direction to learn what’s what in the world of the web.
- Build your website using all of the above knowledge you’ve learned and start experimenting to find out what works best for your needs.
In the meantime, keep following along in the Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners. This Thursday we will be talking about what your website actually needs (and what it doesn’t need) to be effective for your business.
What do you think? Did my pros and cons line up with yours? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments.
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