The answer comes down to five fundamental questions. By considering each question carefully, you can be better prepared to decide whether building your own business site is in your best interest, or a decidedly bad idea.
Is it the best use of your time?
The first question you should consider is whether building your own website is the best use of your time. A business site of average complexity can easily take 10 to 14 weeks to develop. The hours, days, and weeks involved are generally divided among four stages: planning, building, testing, and promoting. How much time is spent on each stage is largely determined by the client: how well prepared are they (or you) for the project? The more time you spend planning your site, the less time you or your developer will need to spend on development.
Are you comfortable with web technology?
The popularity of budget DIY website services leads many to assume building a quality website can be done quickly and economically. While this approach may be good enough for personal websites, the resulting website is not good enough for businesses and organizations that want a professional image.
The de facto platform for professional websites, today, is WordPress. WordPress has become the most popular of the many Content Management System (CMS) website platforms currently available. WordPress allows users to create websites by customizing pre-made templates, or "themes." As far as CMS websites go, WordPress may be easier to use, but that does not mean building a WordPress site is easy. There is a learning curve, so if you do not already know WordPress, you will need to learn how to use the platform before you can start building your site.
Even though WordPress and other CMS platforms offer powerful plugins that help create a feature-rich website, most business-class websites still require the developer to have some programming knowledge in order to customize the site. If you can't at least modify code, you may be limited in how much you can customize your site.
Can you achieve professional results?
Professionalism is an abstract concept. We can't easily explain what it is, but we know when we see it. More importantly, we know when it is lacking. In terms of website design, a professional site not only looks great, but every aspect of the design will reflect purposeful intent - navigation will be logical and intuitive, special features will appear only when and where the visitor needs them, and content will be flawlessly executed.
If you don't know what a sitemap is - or how to how to build one, if you don't know how to anticipate your visitors' needs and to design your site accordingly, or if you don't have the skills to prepare professional content in-house, developing your own site will be a challenge and its success uncertain.
How about social media and marketing?
Effective marketing strategies involve seamless integration of social media with a company's website. Simply posting links to your Facebook page will do little to grow your bottom line. In today's fiercely-competitive markets, you must do more if you are to attract customers and build loyalty. You must create symbiotic relationships between your site and social media platforms so that visitor engagement is a two-way street. The website that represents your business is not the place to learn this.
Most professional developers are able to assist you with social media integration. If you do not know how to integrate social media with your DIY website, you will need to learn before you begin building, not after the site is finished.
Will you have usable web stats?
Once you have built and published your own company website, how do you know if it is doing its job? If you rely on customer feedback, you are getting only half of the picture at best. What about the majority of people who may have problems using your site and who simply click over to your competitors', as they will certainly do? They represent market share that will be lost forever.
Tracking website performance is a major part of your job as a DIY developer. Just knowing how many people visit your site is not enough. That number by itself if virtually useless. You need to know who is visiting your site, and so much more.
To ensure that your site is effectively engaging and serving your customers, you need usable statistics-not just raw numbers, but information you can use to make better decisions about your website. What products or services have your visitors been searching for on the Web? Are they local, or out of state? Did they find your site by using a search engine, or did they enter your site address manually? You need to know. And you need to know how to collect this information if you build your own site.
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