Deciding to make your own website is a big decision. There are clear pros and cons, and that makes it a pretty easy decision.
The biggest reason people want to make their own website is to save money, because they think marketing is expensive. Saving money is a big deal for small businesses, and by doing it yourself, you can save money.
But are there any risks? And how do you know if you have what it takes to create an entire website? We’re going to answer all those questions and more.
What Resources Do You Have Available?
When deciding if you should make your own website, it’s a good idea to consider your strengths and weaknesses as a business and a business owner. The biggest three factors to think about are money, time, and experience.
Do You Have More Time or Money?
For most business owners, the crux of the decision will lie on a balancing act of time and money.
If you have limited money, you probably will need to spend your own time creating your website. In this scenario, the quality of your website is going to be a function of your experience level. For that reason, you’ll want to spend some time learning about the best practices for websites and online marketing.
If you have limited time, hopefully, you have some money in your marketing budget to spend on hiring an expert with experience to help you get started. You can spend that money with an in-house employee or an outside freelancer or agency.
If you’re leaning towards the idea that you have more time than money, keep two other things in mind:
- Do you have the needed skills or the time to learn them?
- Consider your opportunity cost. Is this the most useful thing you could be doing with your time?
What if You Don’t Have Time or Money?
If you don’t have any money or time, you might want to rethink your strategy. What else are you spending your resources on? Why are you spending time and money on those other items, but not on a website? Maybe some of those resources can be diverted to a website.
Myths about Small Business Websites
There are many different reasons owners think they don’t need a small business website. A lot of those reasons have similarities. Let’s consider three big myths about why small businesses don’t need a website.
In brief, here are the myths:
- The business is too new or too small.
- The business can use social media accounts instead.
- It’s just not worth the money to have a business website.
All three of these myths revolve around the concept that the business shouldn’t waste money on digital marketing. And it’s true, digital marketing, like all other business expenses, when done incorrectly, can and will waste money.
Dispelling the Business Website Myths
All marketing, digital and otherwise, is an integral part of running a business. You can’t avoid that. And one of the cornerstones of an online digital marketing strategy is having a website. For this reason, every small business needs a website.
It’s just not optional anymore. Lots of potential customers use a website, or the absence of it, to judge businesses. Social media marketing is very important. Even so, social media accounts are not a complete alternative to a separate small business website.
When people say business websites are not worth the money, they normally are overgeneralizing. There are lots of options in terms of small business website pricing. It depends a lot on who you hire and how complicated of a website you need.
It’s not just all an expense either. There are big benefits to having a business website. The website helps more potential customers find and connect with you earlier in the buying process. It’s also super important to maximizing your word-of-mouth referrals.
Do You Have the Skills and Experience Needed?
The other big thing is to reflect on yourself. What skills do you have? Do you have any experience?
Do you have what it takes to create a website that your business can be proud of? People will judge you and your business based on it. You need to be prepared for this, both mentally and monetarily.
You need to consider your skills and expertise both in terms of marketing acumen and technical ability.
The Marketing Aspect of Making Your Business Website
Making your business website has an often underlooked aspect to it. This is the marketing aspect of the website. You want your website to have messaging and a look and feel that matches your brand.
How Marketing Affects Your Business Website
People develop a perception of your brand based on their impressions from interacting with your business. This includes your website. Often times, your website is actually the first impression a potential customer gets. You want to make it count.
It’s also critical that you appropriately integrate other key branding elements like your business’ logo, unique selling proposition (USP) and other branding collateral.
Your logo functions as the identity of your business, both online and offline. Your customers should see your logo and remember your brand. To make that happen in the digital world you must make sure you tie that in with your website design.
Your USP tells the world why your business is special. It tells your potential customers quickly and concisely why they should do business with you. Again, this is something you absolutely need to have correctly displayed on your website.
You need to go beyond just adding your USP to the homepage. You also want to make sure your overall website firmly tells the story of why you do what you do. Customers want to hear this story. It helps potential customers make a connection with your business.
How Marketing Makes Your Business Website Profitable
Ultimately, having killer marketing messaging on your website is what turns an ordinary business website into a money maker. This requires thoughtful consideration of your mission and vision as a business. It also requires strategic thinking to correctly implement all of this on your website.
If you’re going to design your own business website, you need to have a firm grasp on all of these concepts. If you don’t, it might be an uphill battle to making a business website that really connects with people. You might want to outsource this part of the project. Look for someone with more expertise in digital marketing. This could be an employee, freelancer or agency.
The Technical Aspect of Making Your Business Website
The other big part is the most obvious part. Do you have the technical training and experience to create a website? If not, are you a tech-savvy individual who can quickly learn the needed skills?
There are a lot of different platforms that can be used to create a small business website. This means even if you aren’t a techie, you might still be able to create a website using a website builder. There are however pros and cons to using a website builder and other platforms.
What are Website Platforms and Builders?
There are two types of website platforms out there:
- Simple platforms with WYSIWYG editors that anyone can use.
- More complex platforms with extensive tools and customization options.
The simple options include some of the biggest names in website builders. Some even have TV commercials purporting their ease of use and cheap pricing like Wix and Squarespace. There are others like Weebly, Webnode, Webs and countless others.
This simplicity is accomplished in part by offering easy-to-use “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) builders or editors. These editors make it relatively trivial for novices to design relatively complex layouts and designs.
The problem with WYSIWYG editors is that they also make it too easy to create ad hoc layouts and designs. Each page is designed as a one-off creation, and that is a recipe for a website disaster. This makes it easy for your pages to look less cohesive and more inconsistent.
More Complex Platforms
As you move into the more complex platforms you run into platforms like WordPress and Shopify. These platforms have extensive customization options. Some of the largest companies and the most experienced website designs use these platforms as their base.
Both WordPress and Shopify also offer themes to easily create a custom design and layout for your website. Many of them all you to make minor changes, like changing the colors and fonts. They both also offer WYSIWYG editors like the simpler options.
However, when you use these themes, you are basically going to get an experience similar to the simple platforms. The real power comes when you flex all of the customization options available by designing your own custom theme. That, however, is beyond the scope of most small business owners.
Is it Really That Easy?
The platforms do make it super easy to create a website. We’ve previously discussed how to get a website for a local business fast and easy. With some basic information, you can get something up very quickly.
Yes, It Can Be That Easy
As an example, we even created this WordPress website in the past in under 30 minutes: kapokmarketing.wordpress.com. The problem, as you’ll see if you visit that site, is that it just looks like a website. It is not the true website that accurately represents who and what Kapok Marketing is as an organization and team of marketers.
Of course, you could research and learn how to customize your website on any of these platforms. Some platforms have more limitations than others. But by creating or customizing a WordPress theme, you can get almost anything done.
What’s the Catch?
Our real website is actually a 100% custom theme we created in house. The only difference between the example website and our real website is the level of time, money and effort spent. And the same will be true for any small business.
The more customized, unique, useful you want your website to be, the more technical hurdles you’ll have to overcome. You’ll need to research and learn how various things work. You’ll eventually reach a point where you’re spending too much time learning about website design and development.
At that point, other parts of your business will start to suffer because of the opportunity cost of spending your time on your website. This is the point where you need to be extra careful. Focusing on the wrong things and lack of competence are two big reasons businesses fail.
The Unknowns of Making Your Own Website
As they say, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” The same is true with websites.
Let’s say you use a website platform and it’s super easy. You pay careful attention to ensure your pages are chorent. You work extra hard on great marketing copy. You still don’t have the real-world experience of an expert.
An expert creates websites and does digital marketing on a daily basis and has built up an immense base of knowledge. It’d be very hard and time-consuming to do enough research to match their level of understanding and knowledge.
There are also countless website design and development best practices that are constantly changing. Things change and new opportunities arise every day. For example, how do you get a page listed as featured snippet on Google? A few years ago, featured snippets didn’t even exist, and that is still just one example.
It’s more than just search engine optimization (SEO) too. That is just the fast-changing discipline. Designs and layouts go in and out of style. Lead capture techniques become more or less effective as technology advances. It’s impossible to stay up to date unless that is a focus of your daily routine.
Making Your Own Website
Making your own website is an option a lot of business owners consider. Let’s recap why, and why not, that is a good idea.
Can you make your own website? Yes.
Should you make your own website? It depends on a lot of factors. The big three are time, money, and experience.
How Do You Know For Sure?
If you have money, it’s going to make sense to outsource the project to someone else. Normally, a business owner’s time is worth more money and is better allocated elsewhere. They tend to have higher value tasks they could be working on.
If you have the time and expertise, or even more time to learn, making your own website is a viable option. Just understand the depth of what you’re getting yourself involved in.
It’s easy in the sense that almost anyone can do it. But the same is true of art and athletics. You could draw a picture or play basketball. But you will not draw the Mona Lisa or shoot 3-pointers like Stephen Curry.
That might be fine for your small business’ website. Just realize that website design and development is a professional discipline. Kind of like repairing your car or building a house.
You could theoretically do both of those, and many people do. You could also get involved in either one of those and run into huge problems. The same applies to creating websites.
Finally, be realistic with your available time. You don’t want to spend a lot of time creating a marginal website, only to discover halfway through that you’re in over your head.
Then you have to hire someone else to come in to redo the project. You’ve just wasted a bunch of your time and your money. That is a lose-lose situation.
What Any Business Owner Can Do
Even if you don’t decide to create your own website, you are a valuable resource for your business’ digital marketing efforts. You don’t need to be a marketing ninja or rock star to play a key role.
Only the owners know the whole story of their business. And, luckily, anyone can write a great blog post. Engaging in content marketing and telling your brand’s story online is a perfect role for any business owner.
You don’t need any special training from digital marketing gurus to get started with that. You have the authority and voice to bring your business’ story alive online. That, coupled with a professionally-designed website, is a true powerhouse combination.
Have other questions about creating your own website? Or have a success or horror story? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about your questions or experiences.