In this article, we will compare DIY web services with a custom site using WordPress.
WordPress is probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today. It is very popular, and my clients love it.
DIY website services, on the other hand, promise quick and easy websites that you create. They include companies like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and a host of others.
Sounds easy enough so far, right? Let’s take a look at the issues you should be aware of before you dive in.
Before we get started, what does a “custom website” mean?
A custom website tailored to you and your business’ needs is the goal here. To that end, you are building a custom box to fit your business, not trying to shove your business into a pre-existing box. WordPress is all the tools you need to make that box, unique to your needs. DIY services just give you the same box they give everyone else.
Do you want to own your website?
DIY services own your website. They can afford to be a little cheaper at the outset because they know you can’t leave them — you are using their proprietary software on their servers, and they are just renting your website back to you. If the service goes out of business or if you get fed up with their hosting, that’s too bad. You will need to start your website creation over again from scratch somewhere else. A custom site built with WordPress is portable, so you can grab your files and switch hosting providers whenever you want or need.
You might be advertising other businesses.
Cheap plans are placing advertisements on your website. While this might be fine for a personal site, for a business site, it’s terrible. Ads encourage people to click on them and leave the site you spent so much time and money on, in effect driving your business away.
Your search engine optimization (SEO) will suffer.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and is a combination of coding and keywords that Google uses to rank your site in the search engines. The higher your rank, the more potential clients find you. My professional SEO friends talk about how terrible DIY sites are for SEO. Their closed software and lack of options are a bad combination for getting seen by the search engines. Wordpress has components specifically designed to handle and track your SEO and is open-sourced, so Google can build its own tracking with your site in mind. A custom website, built by someone who knows what they are doing, ensures your site is set up well and allows you to take advantage of ranking opportunities.
But, aren’t DIY services easy?
Some are and some aren’t. All of them still take time to learn and develop. WordPress isn’t hard to learn and is used by many, many people, who are discussing their experiences in online forums and helping each other. It is a gigantic community. While I continue to offer HTML based websites, my clients really want WordPress. This is because it is easy to learn and has lots of advantages over other CMSs (like support and function).
Limited customization is a problem.
There are lots of templates to choose from with a DIY service and they do look nice. You choose your template and you are done. However, some of those templates are not built well. Hackers look for flawed, yet popular templates to exploit, so as to get the biggest bang for their buck. They will probably have some basic options built-in. After you choose a template, some won’t let you change it again. You are stuck with it. A custom website will allow you to grow your site as you grow your business. You do this by adding special functionality — you can’t do with an instant website builder. If you need to update the design — you can do it without having to recreate all the content from scratch
Some DIY templates may have a couple of basic options built-in, but after you choose a template, you may not be able to change it ever again — you are stuck with it. A custom website will allow you to grow your site as you grow your business. You do this by adding special functionality that you simply can’t do with an instant website builder. If you need to update the design, your custom design will let you do so without having to recreate the whole thing from scratch.
Be unique. Just like everyone else.
When you choose a template to create your site, you can’t stand out from the crowd, because you have the same template that hundreds, or even thousands of others — many likely to be your competitors — have. You blend in with everyone else, so how can your clients find you?
It’s going to take a time investment.
You are responsible for setting everything up and it is going to take you more time than you realize. I’m a professional and a small website probably takes forty hours of time. Do you have the kind of time to do a project like this that isn’t even in your wheelhouse?
You can’t add your own code.
You may find you need to add code to your website to extend your functionality. The business could require tracking software or a special chunk of code to integrate with social media. It can be difficult at best, or not an option at worst, to insert your own code. If you are growing or are active with your business you are most likely going to find a need for adding your own code. With a WordPress site, those tools are always at your disposal.
DIY sites cost more than you think.
How much is your time worth? What would you be doing to increase sales if you weren’t spending a week working on your website? How much would you pay for a salesperson that worked 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week? Your website is a salesperson that never sleeps and is never late. If you build your website well, it will serve your customers and potential customers the same.
Who is a DIY good for?
DIY sites are good for short-term, non-professional projects. A wedding site, or sharing gardening tips. Anything simple that doesn’t have the future of you and your employees riding on it.
A custom solution done with WordPress will give you: good SEO options, flexibility, professional branding, and easy updating. If you can’t afford a custom site, at least set up a more elementary WordPress site to start with. Down the road, you can hire a web designer/developer with an eye towards business growth. They will help you figure out what makes the most sense for your company.