Learning Hub | Planning a Website Design Project

Should I Build My Own Website Or Hire Someone?

July 28, 2014 | Jon Teodoro

Here’s a common question that many business owners ask themselves:

Should I build my own website or hire an agency to do it for me?

Before I go into writing this blog post, here’s a full disclaimer:

I am currently a Project Manager and also founding partner for a web design and development company. I will, to the best of my abilities, write this post in an unbiased manner for the sake of business owners who need solid advice on whether to build their own website or not. With that being said, let’s continue.

What Constitutes A Properly Built Website?

Regardless of who builds your website, there are a few widely accepted “best practices” and “must haves”.  Here’s what you should incorporate on your website:

  • Clean, easy-to-use design
  • Intuitive navigation
  • High quality photos of your products or services (videos are a plus!)
  • Easily discoverable contact information on the home page
  • Strong call-to-action above the fold
  • Clear, concise content and sales copy
  • Responsive version of your website for mobile and tablet users

Because having a website is a standard for doing business nowadays, you should prioritize your audience first before you start thinking about what would be “cool” or “clever” to put on your site. The purpose of your website should be to clearly communicate what your business does, why customers should choose your business over the competition and how they can contact you if they have any questions.

What does it take to build a great website?

To build a great website, you will need to invest two things: time and money. I’ll elaborate on each resource below and later suggest the best alternatives for business owners that have different levels of each resource.

Time – Whether you build your website on your own or hire an agency to do it, you will have to invest some kind of time. The question is, how much time do you have?  If you already have a website and are looking to redesign it, then time may be less sensitive of an issue. On the other hand, if you are about to launch your business, the opposite could be true.

Additionally, the amount of time that you will invest into building a website on your own is directly dependent on your skill level in areas including (but not limited to): design, copywriting, coding and marketing. The more proficient and knowledgeable you are at these things, the faster you will be able to build your website.

Money – As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”  If you cheap out on a do-it-yourself website builder, chances are, you won’t get all the features that you want. Likewise, if you price shop for agencies or designers, generally the lower priced designers will deliver a sub-par product (that is, if they even deliver it at all!).

Budget is a top priority for any business owner regardless of how successful they are. The important takeaway here is to set your expectations in line with the budget that you have set aside for marketing your business online.

How Do I Decide If I Should Build My Website Myself?

Based on the previously mentioned resources, here are two scenarios:

Scenario #1: I have time to spare, but no money to spend:

Solution: Build your own website

Chances are, if you don’t have a significant amount of money set aside, you won’t be able to afford a reputable firm. A great web agency will have brilliant marketing, design and development minds under one roof, however, top talent salaries tend to be relatively high and therefore you should expect a price tag in the thousands for a properly built website that fulfills the basic needs and expectations of your potential customers.

As a do-it-yourself-er, my suggestion is to visit websites like teamtreehouse.com or codeacademy.com to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. You should also immerse yourself in the following areas:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEO/PPC)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Sales Copywriting
  • Mobile/Responsive Design
  • Website Analytics
  • Consumer Psychology/Behavior

Not only knowing how to build a website but also how to market it and maintain it are important aspects that you should not overlook. Building your own website can a fun and fulfilling experience, however, it can be long process, so make sure that you have somewhat of a passion or interest in marketing and technology before venturing off on your own.

Scenario #2: I have no time, but I do have a budget set aside:

Solution: Hire a reputable firm or agency

Learning the basics of online marketing, server administration, web security and web design is time consuming. In reference to the basics only, mastering the major concepts could take you months or even years. For people who are tied up in the operations of their own businesses, dedicating that much time aside is usually not an option.

Instead, by hiring an agency, you can take advantage of the talented individuals that work there. Reputable web marketing companies will have a team that will take the guesswork out of building your web presence. Chances are, these professionals build and market websites on a daily basis and have been doing so for a long time. You can essentially save time by doing it right once instead of having to learn as you go.

Quick Recap

So, should you build your own website or hire an agency? The answer is: it depends. It depends on what resources you have available in terms of time and money. If you have plenty of time on your hands but don’t want to spend a lot of money, building your own website is the way to go. However, be prepared to invest a lot of time in learning the basics.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of learning new coding languages, or if technology is not your forte, you should definitely consider hiring a reputable firm to do the work.

Hey business owners! Share some tips with others below on either building your own website or hiring an agency to do it for you.