DIY Websites – Eyes Wide Open

DIY toddler changing car tire

Do it yourself (DIY) has its place … but buyer beware

We’re in a DIY era. Just a few clicks on Google or YouTube yield insights, information and instructions to tackle most anything. Want to transform an old brass fireplace front into a striking visual feature? Trying to decipher the cause of your aches and pains? Need to replace your air conditioning filter or check a fuse in your car?  Simply click search and you will find.

The information is out there, for sure. Ascertaining whether it’s entirely correct, high quality, and the optimal approach — well, that requires a bit more digging. Ensuring the credibility of your source is critical.

DIY for business

Our default approach for many business tasks may also start with an online search. Here the stakes are higher. While online research can be a very effective way to scope out an issue and gather information, it doesn’t always provide the full picture. Consider the infamous hoax video instructions for drilling a charger port hole into your iPhone 7. Information online can be misleading, inauthentic — or worse.

Let’s say you’re bootstrapping your new business launch. Without an income stream, you may not have funds to hire experts and besides, you’re chomping at the bit to get started. Many founders faced with a long list of launch tasks are ready to jump in and tackle the low hanging fruit. Of course, defining which items can be considered such fruit — and therefore appropriate to consider for DIY — varies widely based on your skills … and tenacity.

Founders raised in the digital era (as well as some tech-savvy entrepreneurs) may be tempted to create their own websites. The thinking – not altogether illogical – may be that since their business is just starting out and will evolve, a “starter” website is sufficient. But one sure way to keep your business small is with a website that doesn’t inspire confidence in the visitor. 

Choose your DIY areas carefully

An online search yields listings for low-cost or free website templates with drag-and-drop functionality and no coding skills required. Web hosting services offer a free website with a monthly hosting subscription and radio ads claim your brand new website can be up and running in a matter of days — if not hours.

Reality check. The downside of the simplicity touted by simple site builders like Weebly or Wix is that you cede much of the design flexibility to create the impactful, effective sites of your would-be competitors. Additionally, many site builder website templates don’t support use of open source plugins (used widely on WordPress sites) that provide robust functionality and features. And finally — perhaps most importantly — their sites often don’t rank as well in keyword-focused online searches. The reasons for poor search engine rankings are varied, including incomplete metatags by inexpert (but passionate) founders.

No such thing as a free lunch

Website hosting services lure new customers to subscribe with the promise of a free website. The biggest danger of these free sites is the fine print. Often, the content and images are standard, meaning that aside from a few minor branding elements, your site may be nearly indistinguishable from your competitors’. And in some cases, the hosting company owns the content and images on your website — and even your domain (or website address). Should you decide to change hosting companies, you cannot migrate the domain or the website assets to a new platform.

And for the DIY-inclined, websites managed by hosting companies generally limit the ability to handle your own website edits. While some may relish the idea of delegating edits, others may be frustrated by the lack of control for simple text or image edits.

DIY has its place … the wonder of WordPress

My clients are consistently astounded by the magnitude of the process to build a new website from scratch. When well executed, the end result offers a credible, compelling and convincing business snapshot in a navigable, user-friendly format. Articulating your offerings, crafting inspired content, providing optimal images and architecting a logical information flow are difficult enough without adding the complexity of website development and search engine optimization to the mix. Our advice? Work closely with your web designer and developer, but leave the tech work to the experts.

A website created on the WordPress platform will enable you to handle the majority of ongoing edits while taking advantage of myriad benefits. In addition to the most current design options, WordPress offers an open source content management system, seamless integration with shopping cart engines and email marketing software and a nearly endless library of (mostly free) plugins which enhance functionality, security and user experience.

Once your site is built, you’ll have plenty of opportunity for DIY edits as your business evolves. But do keep an expert in the wings for when your needs become more complex.

Still looking to get your hands dirty? Check out our other blog posts … or search YouTube for the steps to change a tire.

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6 Comments

  1. Lew Sabbag

    Great post Nancy! – DIY is a great concept but it can come back to haunt you in terms of your web presence and why you never get traffic to your site and no one ever calls. I am trying to rescue a law firm now ;-( Getting the right keywords in place is like going with the flow vs. swimming upstream for the life of your business website.

    Reply
    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thank you Lew! Fortunately search algorithms reward the pairing of SEO keywords with natural phrasing — but it’s still not for the faint of heart … right?

      Reply
  2. Nancy Black

    Well written excellent advice.

    Reply
    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thank you Nancy Black – appreciate the feedback from a veteran entrepreneur!

      Reply
  3. Jacqueline Franklin

    In other words, “stick to your knitting.” Wise advice, as always, Nancy.

    Reply
    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Indeed – especially with something as important as your online presence!

      Reply

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