You need to have a website. There is no other way to build a successful business in the modern age. But if you’re new to business, you’ll soon realize that designing, developing, and maintaining your website are not easy decisions to make.
Do you hire a professional web designer to come up with a design for your website, paying thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege? Or trying to put together a website on your own with just an investment of time?
DIY web design is certainly attractive, and for more reasons than just the low cost basis, but most DIY web design projects inevitably fail.
Why is this the case, and can it be prevented?
The high level view
Before we can understand why so many DIY web projects fail, we need to understand “failure”. What does it mean when a website fails?
There are several potential points of failure. First, most people want their website to be functional, present their brand in a positive light, and ultimately persuade visitors to take action, like buying a product or filling out a form. Because of this, it is possible for a website to fail in a variety of ways, such as providing a horrible user experience and ruining brand reputation, suffering catastrophic loss from a cyber attack, or simply dealing with a permanently low conversion rate.
Why Most DIY Web Design Projects Fail
The simplest answer is from inexperience.
There’s a lot to learn about effective web design and development, from the essential components of website operation to the latest trends in user experience. However, if you don’t understand these elements and try to build a website from scratch, even the best website builder in the world will not help you overcome the obstacles you will face.
In other words, inexperience leads to poor design, which leads to poor results.
The Allure of DIY Web Design
no wonder why diy web design it’s so attractive. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s much less expensive than designing a website from scratch with an agency.
These days, it’s also easy. There are dozens, or even hundreds of free website builders that promise the experience of designing an effective website in a matter of minutes. Thanks to WYSIWYG editors and helpful guides, even a hobbyist can get something up and running.
On top of that, DIY web design gives you a lot more transparency and control over your website development. If you’re new to web design, or have had a bad experience with professional designers in the past, you may be skeptical about what happens on the backend, or just want more autonomy over the process.
The problems with DIY web design
DIY web design also tends to be a problem due to the sheer number of things that can go wrong.
- CMS options and platforms. There are dozens of viable website builders and hundreds of options for your content management system (CMS). Some of these platforms are objectively and completely better than others. Most of them have unique strengths and weaknesses worth considering; they can be perfect for one type of business, but virtually useless for another. The time it takes to thoroughly research every possible CMS, weigh their pros and cons, and make the right decision is significant, and not something you can afford to ignore. If you end up with the “wrong” CMS, it could cause a massive domino effect.
- Cyber security issues. Cybercrime is a huge problem that you also cannot afford to ignore. Cybercriminals around the world are constantly looking for easy opportunities to exploit people who don’t follow best practices. All it takes is a single flaw in your website design and development, such as a missing patch, a corrupted file, or a lax password, to finally compromise your security. If you don’t know what you’re doing, one of these vulnerabilities will certainly rear its head, and it’s only a matter of time before it hits you.
- Templates and resulting problems. It’s natural to lean towards template-driven designs if you’re inexperienced or want the fastest and easiest web design solution. But templates themselves can present a host of new problems. For starters, working with a template means you won’t have as much control or flexibility as creating a website from scratch.
- Primary file corruption (and inability to recover). What would you do if you accidentally damaged or deleted a critical core file on your website? A savvy developer would either have a backup or know how to try a patchwork solution. However, if you are inexperienced and unfamiliar with this type of complication, you could end up with excessive downtime or a totally damaged site.
- Lack of direct access to your database. Similarly, if you use a free website builder or similar platform to build your website, it may not directly access your database. Again, this may not be a big deal for simple, small-scale websites. But if you run into problems in the future or want to expand your operation in the future, this lack of access can lead to massive problems.
- Wrong optimization. Your website may technically work, but is it loading as fast as your users would like? Is it loading correctly on different operating systems and browsers? To achieve these goals, you’ll need to properly optimize design elements such as images. If you don’t have the skills or technical expertise to pull this off, you could end up with a clunky (or barely functional) site.
- The possibility of a significant break. You might get lucky and your website will work perfectly fine, indefinitely. But if it suddenly becomes impossible for a customer to buy something from your online store, your entire business model will collapse. More than one business has succumbed to significant losses due to extended periods of downtime. You may be able to recover and continue with your business once you find the problem and correct it, but that leads to another potential problem.
- General troubleshooting issues. If something goes wrong with your website (and given enough time, it eventually will), do you know what to do? Skilled web developers can usually track down the root cause of the problem and fix it quickly. But with minimal experience to back it up, you may not be able to solve the problem on your own. At a minimum, you’ll need to hire a professional to help you figure out what’s going on, and that can compromise your low-cost base.
- Inability to climb. Finally, building your own website means you won’t have as much flexibility to scale. Most introductory web builders and simple web design tools are not designed to support large-scale sites with complex features and substantial user bases.
Design is not everything
It’s also worth noting that design isn’t everything. Even if you manage to put together a functional and beautiful website on your own, there is no guarantee that it will be a success. You’ll still need to optimize the site for conversions, invest in marketing and advertising, and continue to promote the site as it grows. It is certainly possible to do everything here, but it is not easy.
For the most part, DIY web design projects are doomed to fail, one way or another. The good news is that there are many potential solutions.
You could, for example, spend enough time and effort studying the fundamentals of web design and development to become an expert in your own right. But for most entrepreneurs looking to build a website from scratch, it’s easier to work with a professional agency.
Image credit: Kaboompics; pexels; Thanks!