Over the past 10 or 15 years, I’ve tackled some pretty big household projects, including building turned-leg desks for my daughters and adding crown moulding throughout the first floor of our house.
So I get the DIY impulse — it can be fun and rewarding, and it can save you a lot of money.
But as well as that equation works at home, it doesn’t necessarily translate well to the office.
For example, your company website. If all you need is a basic website because your marketing revolves around other activities for lead generation and marketing, just about any of the commercial website platforms will work for you.
But if you’re serious about digital marketing and want a website that works as something beyond an online business card, it pays to do a little cost/benefit analysis of the upfront savings you will see with a DIY platform or hiring a freelancer to work one of those tools for you. Your goal should be to avoid being penny-wise and pound-foolish with one of your most important digital marketing investments.
Here’s what you should be considering.
Marketing / Message Effectiveness
Though design and coding are the first things most people think about when they think about their websites, those efforts aren’t nearly as important as solid messaging.
This includes content, site structure or architecture, and navigation. None of that is “rocket surgery” — more on that in a moment — but if you haven’t built a website before you’re likely going to need to spend a fair amount of time — and a serious amount of energy — to get it right.
And if you’re hiring a freelancer, chances are they’re either a coder or a designer by training, and messaging isn’t going to be their strength. You’ll still need to make that investment of time and energy to guide the project.
(If you go either of these routes, I recommend you read a book called Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. It’s tremendously accessible and incredibly helpful. And he’s the coiner of the phrase “rocket surgery.”)
Website Design for Marketing Effectiveness
Of course all the advertisements for the DIY tools show great looking websites, as do the examples they show. What they don’t show is how someone had to sweat blood to make the sites look that good.
Which isn’t to say that the templates they provide aren’t startlingly good; it’s just that if you’re not a designer, your best case scenario is likely going to be a generic look and feel to your site.
That alone probably won’t have an enormously negative impact on your website’s marketing effectiveness, but the user experience shortcomings that are likely rolled up into those generic templates just may drive prospects away. Again, it’s not that the templates themselves are flawed; it’s that in trying to be all things to all people, the templates aren’t going to be tailored to your needs.
Website Coding for Marketing Effectiveness
The biggest drawback of tools that make web coding easier is how hard they often make the web server and the end user’s browser work. There can be a lot of extraneous, unnecessary code slowing your website down. That’s bad for user experience and bad for SEO.
Speaking of SEO, not all of the DIY platforms are particularly SEO-friendly. They can make it difficult for you to DIY a solid SEO effort and even make it hard for an SEO pro to work effectively. Seek out online reviews and talk to your trusted SEO consultant before you commit to any new platform. SEO limitations may just be a dealbreaker.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
One last warning worth mentioning is captured in something we’re fond of saying:
The trick isn’t knowing how to swing a hammer. It’s knowing when a hammer is the right tool.
(If you’ve been to the Services page on our website, you’ve seen that quote.)
All of the DIY platforms give you a lot of options for everything from image rotators to flashing text to page elements that slide into place and more.
All of these effects can look great. (Well, maybe not the flashing text. Please don’t use flashing text on your website.) But all together, they’re going to look amateurish.
An amateurish website is going to reflect poorly on your business. And that’s the real reason your digital marketing can’t afford an cheap website.