Once you’ve created your website plan the next step is to decide who’s going to bring your masterpiece to life. Is this going to be a do-it-yourself project or one to enlist the help of a local design firm?

Option #1: DIY

Option 1 DIY

If you choose the DIY option for your website, be sure you’re up for the challenge of building the beasty 100% of the way. A half-built website won’t do you any good.

Your website’s your baby and you operate on a tight budget, so why not build it on your own? This could be a fabulous growth experience for you. You may uncover a hidden talent! Or…it may be the worst decision you could make for your business, but how will you know before trying it out?

Be realistic about your computer comfort level. Ask yourself a few important questions:

  • Do you know HTML?
  • Have you taken a design class or two?
  • Do you have plenty of time on your hands?
  • Do you already own the software needed to build a website?

If so, you might have a great time embarking on this web design adventure.

Before you begin, be sure this is the most cost effective option and make certain you can produce a website for your business that will be as professional as your competition’s. Consider taking a web design class through an adult education program to get off on the right foot.

Pros

  • You’ll get to add web design to your resume!
  • You won’t have to pay someone else to build your site, making this the cheapest option.

Cons

  • Unless you can code by heart you’ll need to find free software or buy a software to code the HTML.
  • You may be unable to create the functionality you desire to effectively generate leads and return visitors. Building certain interactive website elements may be above your skill level.
  • Your site may not be as professional looking as your competition’s and you may lose business because of a less than positive first impression.
  • You may spend hours attempting to craft a website masterpiece instead of drumming up new business for your company. Sometimes it’s best to stick with what you know and leave web design to a professional.

Option #2: Not So Alone

Option 2 Not So Alone

The learning curve involved in using software to build your website can be tiring. If you don’t have the adequate energy to dedicate to the project, consider calling in the professionals.

A tempting alternative to the less adventurous do-it-yourselfer is the design online option. This option allows you to create your own site using an online interface provided by a free or subscription-based site building program. It doesn’t require as much technical know-how as starting from scratch, but there will still be a learning curve. You’ll need to know some of the basics before you begin to ensure images and text are properly formatted.

This is a good alternative for those who want both a personal endeavour and a moderately professional looking result. Many online builders allow you to add functionalities such as blogs and photo galleries. Design alternatives are usually restrained to pre-made templates with limited options for customization. This is often attractive to businesses on a tight budget testing to see if a website can make an impact.

Pros

  • It’s easier to build and comes standard with more functionality than a built-from-scratch DIY site.
  • No additional software should be needed.
  • You won’t have to pay someone else to build your site (but you might have to pay for the online site building service).

Cons

  • Full functionality for optimum returns on referrals can be difficult to implement depending upon the system.
  • A learning curve is still in effect, so be prepared to dedicate the time it takes to complete the project.
  • Your site may not be as professional looking as your competition’s due to an inability to customize the site builder templates.

Option #3: Call In the Pros

Option 3 Call in the Pros

Meet with a project manager at a design company to discuss your vision for your website. The professionals will bring your vision to life and will usually have additional suggestions to improve your site beyond the original plan. It’s a win-win!

Web design is a lot like car maintenance; you might be physically capable of rebuilding your engine, but should you? Once you get the engine taken apart will you remember how to put all the pieces back together correctly? If it is broken, how will you know which part to replace? There would be a lot of trial and error going on, and unless you have an amazing intuitive sense, it might take quite a while to figure things out.

The right professional designer can guide you through the process with as much or as little involvement as you desire. To cut costs you can do your own photography or write the text for your pages. In some cases you could do part of the design on your own and contract with a programmer to create your amazing web tool. Another option is to have a designer create the site in a content management system, like WordPress, and leave the pages blank, allowing you to enter the information on the individual pages.

Pros

  • You can achieve maximum functionality.
  • The appearance will be completely customizable if you’re working with the right company.
  • The process should be less painful if you choose a company with a positive track record.

Cons

  • Regardless of how much or how little help you receive from a professional, one thing is certain: you will have to pay them for their services.
  • Quality work comes at a price. Prices will range from $10 per hour for a freelancer just starting out to over $200 for programming help from a large agency, making this the most expensive option.

Where is your comfort zone?

With all the pros and cons regarding the different ways you can attack your website sprawled out in front of you, it’s time to figure out which option you’re the most comfortable with. If you’re thinking that working with the design pros is the way to go, check out our Design Company Interview Guide! You’ll find a list of must-ask questions to present to your potential designers before hiring them for the job.

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