06 Oct DIY WEBSITES – CREATING WEB MASTERS OR WEB DISASTERS?
We live in the age of DIY. There’s almost nothing we can’t do – and don’t we do it well! Lay tiles, install kitchens, even create websites. Brilliant! And soooo easy. What a fabulous way to promote your business and save heaps of money to boot. All you need is a logo, a snappy colour scheme, insert some images and text. Right? Maybe not.
In recent months I’ve taken many calls from people who have either started creating their own website only to find it more challenging than expected, or having finished, realise that it really doesn’t look, or work like they thought, hoped or needed and are now looking for answers – and help. I thought I would share some of the key issues that have come to me and explain why DIY is not always the smartest business decision. DIY web-creation looks simple but it isn’t. It frequently ends in tears. Here’s why.
The copy I’ve inserted fills the whole page but the headings are stuck to the left and they won’t move – the DIY template you purchase might look fabulous at the outset because it’s been photoshoped to provide matching images and just the right amount of text has been inserted to make you feel you’ve got a professional site. But when you start to insert your own text, customise your images, create icons and graphics, it’s readily apparent that the inflexibility in the template means there is an obvious disconnect that screams DIY.
I thought I’d easily be able to create the visuals to promote my products but it hasn’t quite turned out as professionally as I would like – this happens when people whose areas of expertise lie in fields other than web creation. Business owners obviously know their products and services really well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand how people buy products and services online. In the absence of face to face contact, your website is the only vehicle you have to entice customers to want and buy what you are offering.
My home page looks good but the whole site doesn’t seem to be working smoothly and sometimes I see errors I didn’t make – when created and implemented well, a site runs smoothly through every facet. It works seamlessly on different browsers, comes up on search engines and loads quickly. This all requires an understanding of coding which ties the back end in with the front end so that everything happens seamlessly. Without understanding coding, the flow isn’t there and the site runs slowly, often has systems errors that affect the visuals, looks different on different browsers and tends not to have good SEO rankings. Your website is a call to action and if it’s not running smoothly, there won’t be much action!
I’ve been looking at other sites and I have a horrible feeling mine looks dated but I’ve only just created it! Help!! – you don’t want your business to look out of date, so why have a website that looks that way? To be the best you need the best technology. If the technology is free, you can bet it’s old because the latest technology is never free! You need the latest functionalities. They determine how visitors interact with your site, so it’s important not only to have a site that is visually engaging, but one that allows the visitor to easily navigate and find what they’re looking for and then access that product or service. You can see this in my own site – the pages load not as one big chunk, but in stages. It’s dynamic and funky and very easy to navigate.
I thought my site would look the same on a mobile or tablet as it does on a computer screen, but it doesn’t. It looks really bad – this really is one of today’s biggest issues and one that DIYers often don’t realise. Is your website mobile responsive? How does it look and function across all the media: desktops and laptops, tablets and phones and in portrait and landscape? Smartphones are fast becoming the key retail hub. Mobile phone traffic now accounts for over 50% of internet traffic and Google gives preferences to mobile responsive websites – and penalises those that aren’t mobile friendly but DIYers generally don’t know how to create a website that works across all media.
Why spend the time and money on a professional when I can do it myself? – If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I would be writing this from my private island in the South Pacific! People say they don’t have the time to work with a web designer because they’re too busy working on their business. But here’s the contradiction – if web designing isn’t your skill, then the time spent – or wasted – trying to build your website is valuable time taken away from working on your business. In reality, the perception that DIY websites are a money-saving measure, is false economy. A lot of time goes into building a website and in DIY you’re probably spending double the time which is costing perhaps double the money. So why not have a professional, functional and interactive website from the outset to attract business. Using a professional is money well spent.
I thought I’d be on the first page but I’m down so low that no one will know I exist – it’s a competitive market out there and you need to be seen in order to grow your business. Professionally designed and built sites have search engine optimisation built in and good SEO improves the visitor experience and website usability. It’s not enough to build your own website that might look good, have brilliant graphics and content. If you don’t understand how to optimise it, the result can be a website that is invisible to search engines. If that’s the case then while you’re hoping, wanting and needing to be on the first page, in reality, no one will know you exist. Now that’s bad for business!
My server seems really slow. I thought all web hostings were the same regardless of the cost – free or cheap hosting is slow, can easily be hacked or in the worst cases, and I have seen this happen, a site can totally disappear! DIY websites are generally on slower servers where there is more traffic and consequently the page loads are slower. Firewalls are not as sophisticated, software can be out of date making your site more prone to viruses and plug-ins. Why compromise your business’s most important marketing tool?
I want to be higher up the food chain. I want to be on the first page and I know it’s about ranking but I don’t know what to do to get there – results drive rankings. DIYers often don’t understand the importance of how well a website is tracking, or which customer experience or touchpoints are driving results. You need on-going service with regular web reports to fully understand how your effectively your website is contributing to – or hampering your ranking and business growth.
I had a problem and rang the company I purchased my website from but no one could – or would – help me, so I’m stuck and don’t know where to get help – it’s all about service! When you DIY there’s often no one to turn to when it all goes horribly wrong. Free or cheap can be a bargain but sometimes cheap is well, just cheap – and the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ applies to websites. There’s no after sales service with cheap $300 sites which means there is no one actually managing your website. When something goes wrong, and after wasting considerable time (and money because your time has a commercial value) trying to fix – or even just trying to understand what actually is wrong – is usually the ‘light globe moment’ when DIYers turn to a professional.
The DIY experience can be a rewarding one for some, but for most it is a road paved with tears and even those who do manage to navigate the construction maze often end up with websites that don’t really do justice to their business. This is your business, your livelihood. In today’s competitive world you need an edge and a professionally created and managed website is not a luxury, it is essential. I not only design websites, custom creating to the individual needs of my clients, but I build and manage them, providing after sales service, so if there is an issue, clients know they can call me and I will be there for them. You wouldn’t go to a carpenter if you had a toothache and you wouldn’t ask a dentist to build you a wardrobe. So why risk your business with a DIY website? Engage a professional. You won’t regret it, and your business will love you for it!