You’ve likely seen commercials or digital ads promoting free or low-cost websites. They show beautiful imagery and tout ease of use for little-to-no-startup cost. That can be mighty tempting for small business owners and anyone on a budget.
You’ve also likely heard the adage, “there’s no such thing as a free puppy.”
Though these offers for do-it-yourself websites and adorable puppies might be free to begin with, there will be numerous costs down the road. You will spend time, money and worry on websites and puppies alike. So it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
While these DIY website services might be a good solution for technically-inclined businesses with the time to dedicate to creating a great website, there are definitely some drawbacks. With that in mind, here are the factors I see as the 4 big challenges of DIY websites:
Your time is valuable. Although you may be capable of working with a DIY website template service, it’s important to factor in the cost of your time to create and maintain a new website.
Let’s say you bill $100/hour when performing your work (be that plumbing, training, design, etc.). You may be putting little financial investment into the template service to create your new website, but you should keep in mind that the time you will be spending on the site will cost you. It will likely take you a good amount of time to get that website exactly the way you want it, filling in content, customizing features and learning how to make it work. Before you know it, you’ve invested 25 or more hours of your time in your new website, and that “no cost” website has cost you $2,500+ in your own labor.
Website builders may start with a low cost, but that can quickly add up for basic features such as:
It’s important to research a DIY website service to find out the true cost of a site that has all the bells and whistles you’ll need.
With DIY websites, you are the webmaster. That title is thrilling, for a moment, until you realize that you are completely responsible for your new website!
The service you choose likely offers support via email or even web chat, but when you need to pick up the phone or solve an issue with someone you can track down, you might face some challenges. Make sure you consider the responsibility of posting all of your content, troubleshooting functionality and tackling SEO without a safety net.
Most free or low-cost website builders charge clients month-to-month. That can be great for your budget, but what happens when you’re ready to move on? In many cases, you will be out of luck (take a look at “site portability” on this handy grid from PC Mag).
After you’ve put in the hard work of creating your website design and functionality, you should bear in mind that your website may be tied to the service you used to build it. Meaning: once you’re done paying that monthly fee, poof goes your web design. Sure you can copy and paste all of your page content and take that to a new site, but you’ll be starting from scratch. Some website builders will let you migrate your files to a new platform, but make sure you find out before you begin your project.
There are absolutely circumstances when DIY websites can be helpful to small business owners, but keep in mind – that puppy isn’t free.
By knowing the challenges you may face by doing it all yourself, you’ll be better prepared once you get past the excitement of a shiny new website. And if you decide that the real costs are more than you want to sign up for, a full service web design firm (hint: we know a good one) might be the best answer for you.