DIY Websites: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Do-it-yourself website solutions have been popping up everywhere in the last five to ten years. DIY website companies boast the ability to build your own website without any prior knowledge of CSS, HTML, or coding in general. Not only that, the DIY website solutions are often very easy on your wallet; sometimes even for free if you use certain domain names, sub-domains, or domain extensions. But, do DIY websites really give you what you want? Or does the old adage “you get what you pay for” stand true? We’ll explore the good, bad, and ugly side of DIY websites.

The Good

We’ll start off by saying we are not proponents of DIY websites, regardless of your budget or skill level. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t provide some good to the world of web design.

THE COST

The cost of DIY websites is a good, and bad thing (but we’ll get to that later). The good is that it doesn’t cost a whole lot to start building a website. For those who don’t have a lot of capital to have a professionally designed and developed website a DIY solution can be a good bridge to the next level.

LEARNING DESIGN

While you may not be a developer or a designer, a DIY website solution can offer you a low-cost way to tinker with certain website design principles. Many DIY solutions offer “drag and drop” type of functionality with simple ways of changing colors for links, backgrounds, borders, and other elements. It’s also fairly easy to implement photos or graphics.

If you have never taken a stab at a website before, or aren’t familiar with what types of designs might be good for your business or endeavor a DIY solution can help you learn more about how certain website designs or structure differ from others. This can help you determine what you may want or need from a more robust solution down the line.

NO TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED

There is more than just the design that goes into a website. Website developers built in specific functionality such as sorting, animation, search, and more. This takes some knowledge of code and some technical aspects. Hosting is also taken care of when you use a DIY solution. Often, hosting can be confusing for first timers or those unfamiliar with the technical side of websites, or the internet in general.

The Bad

While there is some good to DIY website offerings, there is also a lot of bad stuff that comes along with it. DIY can be a good starting point or even a beginners learning tool, but if you want your business to shows its best face online, a DIY solution may be more bad than good.

THE COST

We did say this is a good, and a bad thing. Paying an extremely low rate for your website may make you think you are getting a good deal. But in the end it often means you’re not getting what you deserve when it comes to your website.

Sure, money can be tight for businesses that are just starting out, but when creating your business plan or a yearly budget you should make sure you have sufficient funds to go into your website and online presence. This is an increasingly important factor when it comes to business, and “going cheap” with your website can cost you a great deal later on. Taking the time and putting in the money now to get a professional, original website can help your business grow faster and build a lasting brand.

LITTLE FUNCTIONALITY

Sure, it sounds great to be able to “drag and drop” in your pictures, text, and links; but what else can you do? A website is more than just a few pictures and text. The way elements are aligned, or how space is used can be a big part in whether or not a visitor stays or goes when they visit your site for the first time. What if you want a slideshow, a photo gallery, a rotating twitter feed, or something more engaging that static items? While some DIY solutions may offer this functionality, you almost always have to pay extra…

THEY “NICKEL AND DIME” YOU

Piggy backing on the last item, DIY website solutions often nickel and dime their way into your wallet. Sure, it sounds great being able to “get a website for free” or “start your website for .01!”. They give you the most basic of options and functionality, then they start showing you examples of websites that are way “cooler” than yours. So how do you get your website to do the same things? You pay more, and more, and more. How about a header slideshow? That’ll be an extra $10 a month. Oh, it looks like I need extra storage space for all my photos, that’ll be an extra $25. And the list goes on.

The Ugly

LITTLE SCALABILITY

The idea is as your business grows, your website will need more and more. For instance, your online store may go from just a few items to several hundred. Your blog may only have one or two posts a week to one or two posts per day. Whatever the case, your website needs to scale as you grow. This means website maintenance and updates, hosting, and everything in between. DIY solutions are a “one size fits all” solution, and are very difficult to scale with you into the future.

NO DATA or ANALYTICS

While some DIY solutions boast the ability to “analyze” your website visitors, this often just means seeing the number of visitors to your site – or something of the sort. A lot of what is done on the web is based on robust data analysis. Advertisements are served to individuals who search certain key terms and marketers analyze how visitors navigate their website pages to served them better or more targeted content.

If you want to be even a blip on an ever growing Internet radar it’s imperative to use some form of analytics that tells you more than the average visit number. Of course, most of us are familiar with Google Analytics, or tools like Moz Analytics. These tools can dig much deeper and be a massive help when determining how to redesign a certain page or which pages of your website are the most popular or most visited. You won’t often get this (at least not for free or part of your package) with a DIY solution.

BAD SUPPORT

Part of the reason DIY solutions are often low cost is because those companies bank on having thousands and thousands of customers. This means you are just another number to them. Support often takes days or more, and in the end if anything goes wrong it’s up to you to do the fixing. Remember, it is a do-it-yourself gig, remember?

YOU COULD LOSE IT ALL

What happens if the company goes out of business? Well, you’ll likely lose your website and everything that came with it. All that work you did to build your “perfect” site and all the time and effort you put in goes right out the window. What’s more? You probably won’t know until it’s too late. Then you’ll be scrambling to find another solution like the one you had before, when you may encounter the same problems you just had. Not to mention if you cancel your service, you will likely lose everything you did.

SEARCH ENGINE FAILURE

Many DIY solutions boast “search engine visibility” or “high visibility”. What this often means, is they put their customers who spend the most money on the front page of their “highlighted” website page, or something of the sort. The bottom line, it’s very difficult to gain attention from search engines when using a DIY solution, and this is often the lifeblood for many websites and companies.

CONCLUSION

Like we said, DIY website solutions aren’t all bad. They do offer some good, however, when you weigh the pros and cons, the cons often win out. That’s not a great way to go about your business, online or elsewhere.

Sure, you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, DIY solutions are your competition!”. While that may seem like the case, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. DIY solutions compete with other DIY solutions. CultureLab is nothing of the sort. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of a DIY solution, you could even call it a DDIY solution, Don’t-Do-It-Yourself.

The main difference is we handle everything and have years of expertise. That is why businesses, organizations, and individuals from all walks of life come to us to handle their website needs. Not only are we experts in website design and development, but we handle all the technical aspects, support, and updates to your site. Not to mention we build out a customized plan based on your needs and budget. Also, if anything ever happens to CultureLab or you decide to go your separate way, you get to take your website with you.

So, in the end, DIY solutions are their own animal, and are unlike anything else out there. Again, they may be a good starting point for individuals who want to take a crack at design or have some free time tinker around with web design. However, it is not a recommended avenue for serious business solutions.

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