Are you considering tackling the task of creating your own website or managing your own online marketing? Brave move and kudos to you! But before you start installing your newly chosen web template – stop and read this guide to the pros and cons of going it alone.
We are living in the DIY era – home renovations, upcycling and home chefs in overdrive making their own biodynamic cheese courtesy of the kit they bought on Ebay. IT and website development is no different and the field is absolutely blooming with new life and energy courtesy of some pretty incredible and very affordable tools, a bucket load of enthusiasm and some very fresh marketing.
Being an IT consultant, web developer and digital/graphic designer, I make my living from assisting people to create, develop and/or maintain their online presence. On that basis you may think that I would feel a little threatened by this movement. However it’s closer to the mark to say that I fully embrace this surge towards self-sufficiency of the techno kind – when it’s done right.
In my experience working with a full spectrum of clients from large non for profit organisations to small sole traders and personal bloggers I have found that success in both approaches comes down to the planning. However you should keep in mind that experience does count for something and one benefit of working with a consultant or contractor is that they have done this before and know what works and what doesn’t.
So when standing at the crossroads and deciding whether to get professional help for your new website/blog/social media campaign or DIY website, you need to closely look at and answer these questions up front:
- What are the objectives of the project?
Are you looking to have a simple web presence or a fully-fledged ecommerce webstore? When looking to answer this question look at what you want/need now and where things may evolve or expand to in the future to help you chose the right tools or team for the project. Will you be able build upon the framework you are setting up now?
- What is your budget?
Is the bottom line your biggest concern? Remember cheap can sometimes (but not always) mean nasty and that could cost your brand more in the long run if you haven’t done your research.
- How much is your time worth and how much time can you spend?
Most of us are time poor and whilst you may have the technical ability to do everything yourself, your time is just as much of an investment as your dollars. Will you take 6 hours to complete a job a professional could do in an hour? Self managing your website or social media requires maintenance, monitoring and to be successful, constant evolution. Consider all of these elements and not just the time it takes to put together the initial shell and appearance of the website or social media profile.
- What are your technical strengths?
It’s always a good idea to list the things you can do well and those that you can improve on. You may be great at blogging and Tweeting related posts and generating content but lack design skills. It may be the other way around. Consider taking a mixed approach and engaging help from a specialist for some elements and collaborate to create a site you can then maintain yourself. Or take more time to find the right “all in one” solution for your skill set.
Tools of the trade
The smorgasbord of DIY website building sites has some very tasty and visually spectacular players but it pays to read the fine print, in particular look for Terms and Conditions related to ownership of your domain name. This can become very messy down the track if you decide to change providers or wish to get the site developed further by a professional. Some great places to start your search for beginners that require no coding and can allow you to create a website with minimal time input include Squarespace, Wix and WordPress and for ecommerce and online stores try Bigcommerce or Shopify. Obviously the higher your level of technical skill the more you will be able to achieve on your own.
The final comparison:
- Can save you money
- Retain total creative control
- Achievable with the right tools
- Empowering and personal
- Time consuming/ increased workload
- Potentially very inefficient
- Lack of customisation
- Errors can be costly
- Benefit of experience
- Can be cost effective
- More efficient/ reduces workload
- Higher level of customisation
- Higher outlays
- Decreased level of control
The decision about whether to engage the help of an IT expert at any stage of your online development process can offer some great benefits, however there are many aspects that you can successfully create and manage yourself.
Which option do you think would be most suitable for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Emma Wallace plays her magic flute and has computer mice following her. Not really – but in her many roles co-running regional based IT consultancy, CloneSurfing Technology for over 7 years she gained a unique blend of experience. She has a passion and flair for shaking things up and developing new ways of looking at old problems. A.K.A @digisquirrel this graphic/web designer, digital artist, digital publisher and former radio presenter with gift wrapping skills is a little bit different – but what’s wrong with that?