This might at first appear like a form of scare mongering, or a thinly veiled sales pitch on my part but I can assure you it isn’t. I have too much work to do already!
For a small business owner the attractions are many and varied. Obviously cost is always a very large consideration. Probably the at the top of your list of reasons for not engaging with an agency or web site company to do the work for you. And this doesn’t even consider involving the cost of a designer and a developer (yes they are more often separate roles rather than one all powerful individual!).
The allure of being able to build your own web site is a strong one for a small business. After all, how hard can it be?
There are now many platforms that offer a kind of DIY E-Commerce solution that sell themselves as a kind of panacea to all web site requirements. Some are good and some are outright dreadful but all of them will allow you to make very big mistakes along the way. If it was easy, we would all be experts. The pitfalls are incalculable in number. Even after 20 years in the business I’m still learning. I don’t work on my car for the same kinds of reasons. Sure I can use a spanner but that doesn’t make me a car mechanic with oodles of experience under my belt.
If you aren’t in the software engineering game by profession what makes you think, other than the aforementioned sales pitches, you can do it? Even when you have it “working” do you really know it’s working? Do you know it’s secure? Most of the time I see people doing these self build web sites 9 times out of 10 it’s for their business and is also an E-Commerce system. In which case you dealing with some very sensitive data belonging to your customers.
It’s often overlooked by non-professionals that a web site is somehow not software. It is software. It’s an application like any, such as the web browser you are viewing this with, it’s just hosted on someone elses computer somewhere “out there” on the internet.
The issues I often see in these sites include things like:
- Very poor UX (if you don’t know what UX is there’s one reason you shouldn’t build a web site right there)
- Confusing navigation
- Poor SEO planning
- Awful design and page layout
- Untested features
- Incompatible plugins
- Poor performance
Granted, some of the platforms negate some of these issues since you are sometimes forced down particular routes by design. However, all of the platforms I have used will still allow the uninitiated to make huge blunders. Whilst you are “saving money” by not engaging with a professional you could be dooming your site to complete inactivity due to any of these issues. How can you calculate that cost to your business? The short answer to that is, you can’t.
The platforms I’ve used personally and would recommend are not many. Shopify and Squarespace are probably the only two I would recommend.
You have to remember that any time a user comes to a web site with issues that’s the first experience of you and your business they get. First impressions do last when it comes to technology and if you don’t fill them with confidence they are not going to convert into a sale. The point here is that most visits to most sites turn into a bounce statistic, the come to your site, spend 10 seconds (if you’re lucky) on the home page and leave again. Boom, lost business, sad face.
Don’t make these mistakes, do research and my advice is at least speak to a professional before doing anything or making a decision, either way. You might learn something useful even from a chat.