Whether you should design your website yourself or hire a website development firm depends on several important factors. Of course one of the most important things that you should consider is your level of IT expertise and available resources (i.e. IT staff or employees with development experience). There are several website technologies and development techniques/methods that can turn a plain, boring, and difficult to use website into a user-friendly, search engine optimized, professional looking, and functional company website. The decision to design and develop yourself or hire a professional website design company comes down to your skill levels (or that of your staff), the features you want or require, the image you want to project for your business, and the amount of time and energy you have to devote to developing your company website.
Some necessary skills you will need in order to design and develop a website are:
- Knowledge of HTML – There are visual editing programs that can help you with design but some basic knowledge of HTML is necessary.
- Artistic ability – In order to make the site visually appealing you will need good eye for color and generally good taste as well as creativity.
- Graphic software expertise – You will also need some knowledge and experience with graphic editing/creation software in order to produce attractive web-ready photos, images, and graphics for your website. You will also need to optimize your images for the web so that they load quickly while preserving the quality.
- Navigation expertise – Another critical skill is understanding how to present information and create a flow within your website. This means that you will need to have an understanding of navigational structures, design, and implementation in order to develop a website that presents your information in a user-friendly way. If your website visitors have difficulty finding information they will leave and go somewhere else. Imagine yourself in a store where you are waiting for someone to come help you. Most people would leave after a brief amount of waiting time and go somewhere else. Now you can just imagine how many of your website visitors will leave your website instantly if they have difficulty finding what they are looking for on your site — all it takes is a simple click of a mouse and they are gone.
- Marketing, advertising, and business experience – No matter how you cut it you need to have marketing and business experience to build a professional, feature-rich, user-friendly, and effective website. There are major business and marketing concepts and aspects that need to be taken into consideration when developing a website from the beginning stages to the official launch and maintenance.
I can’t do all of that, what do I do?
If you don’t have the time, energy, experience, or skills needed to develop your own website then the best option is for you to hire a professional website design company. Now, one important thing to note is that I mention company and not freelancer or designer. Website companies and firms can offer you three very important things:
- Reliability and professionalism
- Business and marketing experience
- Quality assurance
Furthermore, website design firms will be there in the future when your business needs their services/products whereas freelancers come and go and may not be around in a year or even a month when you need website maintenance, support, or other products and services. Can you really afford to risk losing your investment or time, energy, and money by choosing a freelancer to work on your business website? Over the years I have seen several clients who have lost a lot of time and money because they were trying to save some money by hiring a freelancer. This is your business we are talking about and if your business is important to you then it should be worth the proper investment in order to create a professional image and increase sales.
The best way that I have found to help business owners and entrepreneurs answer this question is to use an example that everyone understands. Deciding whether or not to hire a website design company to develop your website is like repairing a car. You can repair your own vehicle if you have the knowledge, tools, and the time and it will not cost you very much with your largest expense being time and energy. Of course if you are not highly trained or skilled in car repairs then the quality of your repairs may be much lower than the repairs completed by a professional mechanic. This is why the majority of people take their vehicles to professional mechanics in order to properly repair their vehicles. If you want or need your car to run smoothly then it is better to take it to a professional; especially if their work is guaranteed. Similarly when it comes to your company, you probably want your website to function properly, always be available, be user-friendly, search engine optimized, and feature-rich. So does it not make more sense to have a professional website design company manage your business website. This will allow you to use your time and energy to run your business while providing the peace of mind and security that your website is being developed and maintained by a reliable and experienced company.
The decision whether to hire a professional web design firm or to design and develop the site yourself depends on the skills and experience you have, how much time you can spare, and whether or not you want to do the work yourself or focus on the other tasks required to run your business.