DIY Platforms – the hidden costs

Whether you're starting a new business or looking to freshen up your existing website, you'll need to decide whether to hire a website development team or use a DIY system, such as Wix or Go Daddy.

Drag and drop, cloud-based platforms enable users to customise some of the layout and design of their website easily without needing to contact a website developer. On the other hand, a web development company will be building your website for you.

Before you make your choice, perhaps read on to ensure that you are sufficiently informed to make the right decision for you and your business. On the surface, it might seem like you’re saving money using one of the DIY services, but let’s look at some of the hidden costs that you might add up:

  • Your time is used up because you are doing the work. You have to write the copy, choose and edit the graphics and then do the creation. So, the time you might spend growing your business or managing your staff is being used to sort your own website. Your business website should work for you not the other way around, it should be encouraging potential customers to choose your business for their needs; not taking up all your time which can be spent converting new leads.

  • Storage costs. This can add up. So, while the site may be £10 per month, you might end up at £50 per month just so you have enough hosting for your photos and any other additions.

  • Domain cost. You still have to pay for a domain. Users must generally purchase premium packages in order to connect their sites to their own domains, remove ads, add e-commerce capabilities, or buy extra data storage and bandwidth.

  • Flexibility. When you put this much time, and potentially money, into something you want it be yours! Right? A web developer will be able build anything you would like. Not sure about the layout of a page? Decide a whole section is no longer needed? Prefer a video instead of a static image? These are not a problem for a dedicated web developer who will have the skills and expertise to build a website you will love! Generally, DIY platforms have restrictions on what you can and can't do. Not necessarily so that you can pay them more money but because it's a limitation of the platform. If you decide you would like to self-host your website because it's cheaper than paying the fee they are charging, there is less chance you can take your website with you! In most cases, the website will only work on their custom platform, making it impossible to move to another service.

  • Ineffective Design. The quality of your do-it-yourself website may suffer and look amateurish compared to a professional design. Designers have a wealth of theory that goes behind their visuals to help you to stand out from the crowd in the right way. If you choose to hire a professional website developer, they can design and create a bespoke website just for you, providing additional flexibility tailored to your requirements. Opting to use a DIY service instead usually only allows you to use a pre-built template. These templates would be available to all other users of the platform, meaning it is never truly bespoke to you. Of course, you'll be able to adjust colours/fonts to suit your branding. However, it will still be similar to other websites using the template. If you choose to use a popular template then your users may be able to identify the layout/design of your website and make comparisons with other businesses using a similar design. Potentially, making you look less professional. So, a badly designed website could sadly lower your potential customers’ expectations of your company and the services you offer.

  • When things go wrong. When it comes to launching your site, there isn’t anyone to come to your rescue if there are any problems. For example, on launch day, your right column menu is now at the bottom of your page. Or, while everything looked great in the demo, after hours of customizing it, nothing shows up where you want it. A developer is unlikely to come to your rescue because web developers and designers don’t want to work on DIY websites. Furthermore, most of the free or cheap website builders don’t allow you access to the code, so even if someone wanted to help you, they couldn’t touch the HTML code on your website.

  • You don’t own the site. What if you get frustrated and want to move your website to a new domain? Or, what if the DIY website builder goes out of business? Unfortunately for your business, you don’t own the website, and you can’t take it with you to another domain.

  • Search Engines. One of the most important aspects of your website is making sure it’s optimised for search engines. Are you an expert at this? Probably not. And, your website builder isn’t either. If you have little knowledge about site structure, alt tags and title tags, DIY isn’t the route for you, and it won’t work well with the search engines. Building a website is more than drag and drop. It’s organising your content into pages that make sense and are optimised for SEO. Search engine optimisation is important for your business website because if customers can’t find you online, they certainly can’t find you in person. Because there is little help for you, you’ll have to figure all of the search engine optimisation issues out on your own. It’s important to note that there are real experts at this, and they are developers who spend hours and hours every week staying up-do-date on the latest algorithms. It’s not DIY website builders. DIY website are notoriously poor at SEO. This is a risk you can’t afford to take.

  • Support, changes and technology upgrades. Owning a website is not just a case of getting it built and then pushing it into the clouds for all to see. What happens when you need website maintenance or website changes and you no longer have the time to make it happen? A website developer will provide technical support during and after the website has launched. If you use a DIY service you’re not able to send your changes onto someone so that they can make the updates for you. Instead your website will slowly become out-of-date, affecting your online presence. As standards change and technology moves forward the website will need to be regularly updated and the underlying code modified. Services that allow you to build your own website will have very limited support. While they offer help on issues with the service, they don’t provide as much help if you were unsure about, for instance, adding content. Issues are not their priority, and the more you pay them per month the more helpful they might be, but this could increase your expenses to far exceed what they would be if you had a professional web developer on hand. To have a business website that ranks consistently well on search engine results pages and that converts customers, you need to follow the latest SEO best practices and performance optimisations.