Building your own website

Should you build your own website?

Alaska Web Studio

Alaska Web Studio

April 30, 2020

That's a great question

Yes!  Definitely!  By all means!  But…, as long as you can accept limitations.

I am a firm believer is doing as much stuff yourself as you can.  However, you need to be able to get a grip on your limitations.  This is important when asking if you should do anything by yourself.  There have been times when I knew I didn’t have either the tools, know-how or time to tackle something on my own.  This kept me out of trouble most of the time.  When someone else can do a better job than me on a given task, and it really matters that it is done right (electrical, plumbing, auto-mechanics, construction), then nothing short of a professional will do.

Know all the limitations (yours and theirs)

This does not apply to just you.  There are tons of online, do-it-yourself website builders that sell their platforms touting two main things:

• It’s quick • It’s easy


All of the popular online website builders have their own proprietary templated design platforms. They are usually drag n’ drop, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web builders. They all have pre-made templated designs to offer. The reason why they say it is easy and quick to do is based on the idea that you simply pick a template that best suits you, replace the filler text and media with your own, and voila! There you have your own website. They take care of everything else. No need to know any code like HTML or CSS.

Depending on who you use, there are trade-offs that come with the ability to build your website so easily.  This day and age, most pre-made website templates are designed to be mobile responsive. However, again, depending on who you choose, there can be very little ability to customize how your web page will look in different viewpoints. There is no “one size fits all” approach to mobile responsiveness with websites. Different types of content and layouts will require precise tweaking in order for them to look right, function right and give your visitors a good mobile experience. These trade-offs can have negative consequences to your site’s mobile responsiveness and SEO. Another problem with many web builders is the lack of ability to customize the templated designs beyond color themes and perhaps some font changes.

Then there are your limitations. If you don’t have skill with HTML and CSS, you are missing some pretty important tools in your tool box. Some website builders actually allow you to customize your CSS in your designs. Some even allow you to edit the HTML. Both of these come in pretty handy if you want to customize your design so it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Aside from code, it is pretty important to have a good understanding of the proper of the following:

• Title tags
• Strategic (and proper) use of keywords
• Alt. information on images
• Image editing and optimization
• Mobile optimization

 
If you don’t possess these basics, you will want to take some time to learn about them before build your own website. After all, your website’s performance is at stake.

Is it worth it? You decide.

There are pros and cons to trying to build your own website. The biggest pro is cost. Many online web builders offer hosting and web packages that can be less expensive than hiring a pro. At least the upfront costs are less…, there can often be revolving fees for widgets or premium plugins, along with other hosting fees that can quickly add up. You will want to compare the costs.

There is also the cost of your time that will be required to build a healthy website that actually benefits you. Depending on your skill level, it can take anywhere from hours to days to build a website. They really are a lot of work no matter how easy it is made to seem. You will need to decide how much your time is worth and how much you can realistically devote to your project.

After considering the costs first (money and time), you have decided to try building your own website, then I will be the first to tell you – you can do it! It is possible to build a well designed, well functioning website that gives your visitors a great user experience on your own. You can even do it without knowing any code, just like it is often advertised. But you must know the basics stated above.

If you are willing to invest in a lot of time and perhaps a little less money, you can successfully do this. However, for those who do not have the time, know-how and simply need to focus on actually running their business or organization, you may want to consider a pro. You just may be much better off in the long run.

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