Photo by Mathilde Langevin, found via Unsplash
Creating a website for your business can be overwhelming, right? There’s so much to consider – what platform to choose, how many pages you need, what content to put on those pages, how to encourage people to buy, AND making sure that it all looks good. It’s a lot and many business owners struggle to know what is the best approach.
Should you DIY your website by using a template? Or should you invest money in hiring a professional web designer?
In this blog post, I’ll guide you through how to make the best decisions for your business and create a website that meets your needs!
When it’s Ok to DIY Your Site
Every business is different and at some point, I do believe that everyone should invest in a professional designer to really take their website to the next level! BUT sometimes your business just isn’t ready for that and it’s more worth your time and money to DIY your site. Here are a few signs that DIYing may be a better choice for you:
01 / You’re just starting your business.
Although some new businesses can be ready to hire a web designer, many aren’t and that’s ok! So much can change during the first few years of growing your business – your target audience might shift, you may have to pivot in a way that you didn’t expect, etc. So you may not want to invest money in a web designer in the beginning, only to have your business change and then have to re-do everything a few years later! Of the clients that I’ve worked with, many of them chose to DIY their website first and then hire a designer around the 3-year mark. This seems like a pretty standard timeline because after 2-3 years, you’re business has likely already gone through some of those growing pains and helped you develop a more clear vision for where you’re going.
02 / You don’t have a clear understanding of who your target audience is or what your business goals are.
It’s totally normal to be a little unsure about these things in the beginning stages of business. But when it comes to your website, these things are really important to creating a strategic online experience that converts users into paying customers. If you don’t have these things figured out, you’ll likely need to change or update your website once you do. So for now, it’s better to DIY your site and then hire a professional designer later when you are super clear on your vision. Also if you haven’t created a full brand identity for your business, it’s better to work on that before doing your website! Check out my blog post on 5 Branding Basics that Every Business Needs to learn more about that.
03 / Your website isn’t your main tool for generating income.
Some businesses rely heavily on their website and some don’t. If your website isn’t your primary way of attracting clients or customers, then it may be better to DIY your site to save money and invest in other things like branding, copywriting, or higher-end collateral/packaging materials. It’s all about deciding what investments are going to make the biggest impact and help your business grow!
04 / You’re tech savvy.
If you are familiar with how to edit a website, I think it’s ok to try to set things up on your own. You may also want to make sure that you choose a website platform that is easy for you to understand and has good customer support in case you need help.
Another big reason to DIY your website is simply because you don’t have the budget to hire a designer. Web design projects are A LOT of work and, therefore, are a BIG investment. The exact price can vary depending on the designer and the scope/complexity of your site, but I would recommend being prepared to spend at least $5,000 and expect the project to take a few months to complete.
If that’s too far out of your budget, you might think it’s ok to try and find a designer with lower prices. But keep in mind that you get what you pay for. And the cheaper the price, the more risk you run of receiving a cheaply designed site that doesn’t convert well for your business. And that means you’ll likely need to hire someone else to redo everything. So in my expert opinion, it is much more worth your time and money to DIY your website and save up money so that you can invest in a high-quality designer in the future.
How to DIY Your Site
If the DIY route feels like the best fit for you, there are a few things that you can do to make the whole process easier and more beneficial for your business. Here are some things to think about:
01 / Choose the right platform
This is the first big decision that you need to make and will heavily impact how easily you are able to set up your website on your own! There are lots of website platforms out there and some are better for certain types of businesses. Here’s a quick overview of my favorites and who they are a good fit for:
- WordPress – best for bloggers + service-based businesses; lots of opportunities to add custom features + functionality
- Squarespace – good for service-based businesses + has a more modern design and can be easier for some people to update
- Shopify – best for e-commerce businesses
- Showit – good for service-based businesses + allows lots of flexibility to customize the website design
02 / Choose a well-designed template
Since you won’t have a web designer helping you make your website look good, choosing a well-designed template or pre-made theme is super important! When searching for a theme, you’ll want to consider the following to make sure it’s a good fit for you:
- It has the features that you need. If you know that you need certain special features or functionality on your site to make it convert better (like social media feeds, a newsletter pop-up, video blocks, product filters, etc.), then you’ll want to make sure that your template allows all of those things.
- It’s easy to update and offers good customer support. You may need to read through some customer reviews to figure out how user-friendly the template is. It’s also great if the theme creator provides tutorial videos and resource docs.
If you aren’t sure where to find high-quality themes, here are a few of my favorite theme resources + what website platforms they are made for:
- Flothemes (for WordPress)
- Shopify Theme Store (some of my personal favs are Prestige, Boost, Modular, Ira, Cascade and Streamline)
- Squarestylist (for Squarespace – Rache offers a few pre-made themes plus lots of individual code sections that you can purchase to add special functionality to any SS website! She also has a free CSS course if you’re tech savvy and want to learn more about how you can customize your theme with code)
- Tonic Site Shop (for Showit)
- Made by Rove (for Showit)
Some other options to make your DIY website worth it
While you may not be able to hire a designer to create your full website, there may be some other ways to get an expert’s help as you DIY the site. Here are some ideas for things that you can invest money in to help make your DIY website feel more high-quality and perform better.
Book a strategy session with a web designer
This is something that I’ve started offering for brands who don’t have the budget for a full website, but would like some guidance on how to make their DIY site more strategic. In these types of sessions, I help the client pinpoint their specific goals for the site and offer solutions that they can easily implement on their own, but will make a big impact on their website engagement and conversions! If you are interested in booking a website strategy session, you can reach out to work with me here.
Hire a copywriter
While design and visuals can obviously improve your website, the language that you use in the website copy can also have a big impact in how you connect with customers! The money that you save by DIYing your site might be best spent on working with a copywriter to help you make sure that your messaging is super focused and clear.
Invest in brand photography
The imagery on your website can instantly elevate the overall perception of your brand! Especially if you are selling a product, it may be worth it to invest some money in hiring a good photographer. So even though your website might feel a bit generic since you are using a pre-made theme, your high-quality photos will capture the customers attention and build that trust!
DIYing your website can be overwhelming, but I hope that this post has given you some guidance on how to do it well! If you want some more web design and branding advice, check out these posts: