Get the Most Out of Your DIY Website
Now, coming from a web designer, you might think,
“This guy’s going to be against DIY because this is his job.”
So, before you read further, I love DIY. We tell a lot of business owners how they can get better results from their websites with things they can do themselves and we don’t charge them for it.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the pitfalls of DIY websites, how to avoid them in cost-effective ways and when the right time is to hire a professional web designer/developer.
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There’s a lot of opinions out there about why you do or don’t need to hire a web designer. People say a web designer is a waste of money, to which I say, “Amen!”
The Horror Story that Comes Later
There’s a lot of digital fixes and updates that any business owner can do themselves. Paying a web designer to do these fixes or updates is often a waste of money and can often be frustrating trying to communicate to your web designer exactly what you want them to fix. I hear people mention their cousin down the street who can just “do” them a website and I prepare myself to hear the horror story a few months later from the same people.
After hearing so many of these horror stories there’s a couple of cautions a DIY’er should be aware of that will make a DIY journey much easier with accurate expectations, less stress and avoid the horror story.
You can “just build” a website
Not everyone needs to hire a web designer, that’s true.
If you are a small business with a lot of free time or a startup with restricted capital, you can most certainly do a lot of your own web design and put the saved cost into your business. There is definitely a place for DIY builders.
The problem comes when trying to painstakingly make the builder do what you need it to in order to fit your business. When things become too time-consuming to fix or the skill level exceeds the “basic” level, that’s when it’s time to at least chat with a web designer and see what the best way forward for your business is.
Think of a DIY builder–Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Shopify, WordPress, etc.–like a display home. You go visit a display home to see what the building company can build for you, but rarely do you get your final home built exactly like the display home.
Some like their bathroom at the end of the hallway instead of at the start.
Some need one more upstairs bedroom but have no need for the rumpus room.
DIY builders have a good purpose but are very similar to a display home. So, I want to share the common pitfalls with you so you know what to avoid when using DIY builders and when to hire a web designer.
Some Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Template Dependence
“How do I you know what template to use?”
“Should I buy one? Cheap or expensive? Or use a free one?”
“This template is not very flexible, maybe I’ll try that first one I saw.”
“This template is great but it’s SO slow!”
I can’t tell you the amount of times I hear people stumbling blindly through the DIY journey with 400 questions like these every single day. It doesn’t have to be like that. You have to know the good DIY builders and “display homes” from the bad and stick with them. Trying to alter a template beyond it’s simple abilities is one of the most frustrating and time-consuming tasks but a great template makes you feel like you’re walking on sunshine.
While a great web designer can use any template to achieve what a business thought impossible, there are some decent places we recommend to start (though it still depends on your business needs).
- Genesis Framework
Just to name a couple.
2. Image Sizes and Page Speed
“What images do I use for my home page? I took this photo on my iPhone, is that ok?”
“What about stock photography? It’s pretty cheap, I’ll just pay for it.”
“The image doesn’t fit where I need it to, how do I make it different dimensions?”
“My images take so long to load, how do I fix it?”
If you’re going to take the DIY route you’ll need to know a couple of things about images on websites. While the DIY builders say they automatically optimise images, I find this is rarely the case when actually executing a fast loading webpage. We use a professional image compressor to maintain image quality while minimising file size but you can Google some free image compressors that will do an ok job.
3. Logo Inflexibility
The quality of a logo is super important for a business. People form an opinion after just 0.10 seconds of seeing your visual representation. That’s a lot of responsibility hanging on your logo!
Themes don’t give much flexibility for varying the display of your logo which means you’re going to have to either edit the theme or change your logo to fit the box that the theme has provided for you. The easiest of the two is to have your logo made to fit the box which your graphic designer should be able to do for a very small cost.
Surprisingly, some themes don’t allow for much customisation of colours. When you’re looking for a theme, make sure you double-check the ability to change all colours. Few things are more annoying than finishing your DIY only to realise you can’t change the colour of the footer and copyright. Squarespace is usually a good choice for colour customisation.
Please don’t just steer blindly through the labyrinth of the DIY website on your own. There’s plenty of good resources for you out there that can set you on the right track without breaking the bank. If you’re a small business who is wanting to grow, our free personalised website review is for you. You can apply below.
A DIY journey is successful when you’re smart. You can cut a lot of your business’ digital strategy costs by being smart. But sometimes the smart thing is to cross the river, save yourself the time-consuming job, headache and stress, and hire a web designer.
The advantage of a good web designer (because there’s not-so-good web designers) is that you get your “home” built to what you always dreamed your business would be. It gets you leads, makes you visible to Google, is fast, saves you time and increases your business’ sales. When you’re at a place where you want to at least chat to someone about making a proper digital foundation for your business, tell us about your business and we’d love to get you on the right path.
If your serious about getting the most out of your DIY website for your business apply for a free website review below. It will help you get your DIY website performing better for your business.