If you are a business owner and you need a website to secure an online presence you will most probably be faced with the following question. Must I hire a web designer or should I do it myself? As with many if not most of our decisions we have to consider costs. As soon as you learn that a web developer/designer may be costly it is  inevitable that you may consider a DIY website. You may even be lured into a DIY website by advertisements on facebook, Youtube and other popular websites that claim that it is easy, quick, at a low cost and very professional.

A DIY website may look like a good prospect, or does it?

Before we go any further into this discussion we need to distinguish between two different types of DIY websites. The first type is software that can be purchased from the shelf or on the internet. It comes in the form of a program that need to be installed on your computer. The second type is in the form of an online website builder where you “build” the website in your favourite web browser. Because you do not need to purchase any software it is also the cheaper DIY option.

These two DIY options however share the same WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) approach to “building” websites. WYSIWYG simply refers to a process whereby websites are built by means of placing content such as text, videos, audio and images in a visual manner on a canvas or by selecting a template and adding content in predefined areas. The software is then given the green light to convert the “canvas” into code.

Let’s get back to the initial question; should you hire a web developer/designer or build the website yourself as a DIY project? In order to answer the question we need to look at a couple of important considerations.

Website’s functionality:

How many functions do you need on your website? What type of functions do you need on your website? Will it be just a portfolio or will there be a need to create some interactivity for the visitor to your website? Will there be a need to create a database of some sorts? If your website is going to be more than just an online portfolio you may have to consider getting a designer/developer. Any website that will accommodate interaction between the visitor and a database on a server will require the services of a developer/designer.

Proper code for SEO:

Any website is created by using at least HTML, CSS and often JavaScript. A website that is created by placing different content in different places on a canvas in a visual way will not utilise HTML5 (the current HTML version) to its fullest. At a risk of getting a bit technical we need to understand that HTML is the building blocks of a website. It uses tags such as <head>, <header>, <section>, <article>, <p>, <img> etc. to distinguish between the different content and inform search engines what type of information or content is found on the website. WYSIWYG websites tend to use a tag known as <div> to create every different part of the website. A search engine can therefore not recognise an article, an image or a video from one another. The search engine, in fact cannot see what is on your website as a div-tag is normally used to identify content that will be styled in CSS (cascading style sheet) file.

It is therefore clear that a WYSIWYG website will not fare very well with search engines.

Unresponsive design:

WYSIWYG websites are well known to be unresponsive websites. Website owners cannot afford to not have a responsive website. A responsive website is simply a website that is coded in such a way that it can be viewed on different devices such as tablets, smart phones, laptops etc. A responsive website will adapt its appearance for different devices in order to give all visitors the best experience possible.

It is a well-documented fact that the internet is browsed increasingly by tablets and smart phones and that it is close to overtaking desktops and laptops.

No professional url:

One of the unfortunate drawbacks of websites that is created online is that it will not have a professional url. For example, which url would you prefer for your company named Prozone if you are in South Africa? (a) www.wix.prozone.com or (b) www.prozone.co.za? I am sure that you would not want any prefix in your website’s url and that you would like to have a domain in your country of choice.

Advertisements:

If you create your website with an online company you will also find out very soon that you are going to have to deal with unwanted advertisements on your website. With some companies you are not even going to have control over the type of advertisements that will be displayed on your website. There is nothing worse for a visitor to navigate a website that is filled with annoying advertisements and nothing more certain to drive visitors away.

There are many more shortcomings related to DIY websites. I am sure you can think of a couple or more. Please let us know what you think.

®WebScripto is a Pretoria based Web Design Company.

Author Eitel Bock

Author Eitel Bock

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