When people come up with a great new idea for a website, they usually think about the domain name and the hosting plan they will need. They often worry if they will choose the right name, if their server will be fast and if their content will be good. One thing they often forget is the actual process of building the website.
If you want to have a new website, should you build it yourself, or should you hire a professional? You have to weigh the pros and cons of either option. Here are a few things you should consider before you make that decision:
Some platforms are more difficult to work with than others. Some types of websites and customizations require in-depth programming skills. While site builders and templates include a lot of advanced functionalities, they are unlikely to cover all use cases. If you need something more complex, you may not be able to add it yourself. In this case, you will have to hire a web developer who can help you with the site customization.
Of course, the above applies only if you need something more advanced. A lot has changed in the past decade and most site builders these days allow you to create great websites with advanced functionality using a point-and-click interface. Modules and plugins that you can add and configure allow you to implement various complex functions on the site without any programming skills. If you want to try to build the site yourself, you have to consider whether you will be able to do so.
Your skill level
A website doesn’t need to be complex to require more advanced skills. If you need any video or image editing, for example, you may need professional software. You can easily add a video or an image slider with most website builders. If you need a collage to be created, a custom video to be shot, or a few videos to be merged, however, you will either have to learn how to use some image/video editing application, or you will need a professional who has experience with creating website media content.
Adding SEO-friendly content sometimes also requires in-depth knowledge – using keywords in texts, adding the right page meta tags, choosing suitable image titles, etc. There are lots of tutorials that you can find online on this topic, so you have to consider whether this will be a task you can fulfill on your own, or you will need some help from a person who is already familiar with these matters.
If you have some time to spare, you can build your website step by step. It is very satisfying to build something yourself, not mentioning that you will probably learn a lot in the process. It may take you longer to build a site compared to a web developer, though. Nonetheless, using a demo website and replacing the dummy content can save you the time you would have to spend to design the pages, so it may not take you as much as you think to build the site yourself. You have to consider whether launching the site is time sensitive or you have some time to spend working on it.
When it comes to the price of a website, many people consider only the domain registration and the hosting service. If you want to hire a web developer, you will probably have to pay them much more than you will have to pay for the hosting service, or at least this will be the case with most hosting packages. More complex websites that require more time to be built can cost significantly more than a simple personal site, for example. This is why you should consider your budget and see if you can afford hiring a web developer.
There are lots of e-commerce applications these days, so you can build an online store with ease. Their fine tweaking may require some in-depth knowledge, though. If you are going to collect and handle customer information, or anything else that is considered sensitive, you will need better-than-the-average security for the site. If you build the site using an application that is not updated regularly, you may become a victim of a possible breach due to a security hole in the site software. If the site is going to be your main business, it may be better to ask a professional to help you.
If you do not collect sensitive information and use a third-party processor to store it for you, or if the site is an addition to your main business, then you can build it yourself.
Having a website requires more than just building it. Regular maintenance, updates, and repairs are a few things that you should not forget as they can be crucial for the site. Most platforms, themes, and plugins get regular updates – either to add some function, or to patch a security hole. Naturally, you should update your own site software as well. If anything unforeseen happens, you should be able to repair the site or restore it from backup.
If your web developer or a third party helps with maintenance and repairs, you will probably have to pay a monthly fee for the service, unless they charge you per task. The alternative is take care of maintaining the website yourself. While doing so may seem difficult at first, some hosting providers make it much easier to take care of your own site.
We at ICDSoft, for example, generate two daily backups of your entire account, so you can restore any of your websites with a couple of clicks. We also offer an additional Extended Backups upgrade that will give you access to regular backups for a period of 12 months. In the unfortunate case of your website getting hacked, we also offer malware removal, software updates and daily malware scans as a part of our Advanced Security service. The upgrades will give you peace of mind that your site will be safe and sound even if you do not hire a third party.
While the factors above are quite important, there is one more thing that can turn the scales one way or the other. It is something you should consider as well. If you build a website yourself, you will be in full control of everything that happens with the site. You will not have to rely on another person or wait for them to update a few lines on the site. You will not have to look for a new developer without being able to manage your site if the old one leaves for some reason. Of course, in some cases you must use the services of a web developer or an agency, so whether you want to be in charge of the site or not is not always a choice.
If you decide to build it yourself
There are different tools and services you can use to build a website yourself. The ones you will see below are available online, so you will not have to download and install any software. This way, you can manage your site from any computer.
- Our Website Builder. The tool comes with all our shared hosting plans. It will allow you to build any type of website with ease. It features a number of different modules that you can add with just a few clicks – Shopping cart, Q&A, Form builder, Newsletter, Restaurant menu, Audio player, Calendar, etc. You can also add various blocks on any of your pages and choose between many different layouts – banners, CTA boxes, pricing blocks, testimonials, features, and many more. You can easily customize any of them to create a unique website without any coding or web design skills.
- WordPress. While the platform was meant to be used for blogs when it was launched, today it is the most popular content management system out there. With thousands of free and paid themes and plugins, you can use it to build virtually any type of website. Feature-rich plugins like Elementor allow you to add advanced forms to the website. Themes like Astra, for instance, come with a number of sample websites, including free ones, that you can use as a base for your site.
- Other self-hosted applications. There are other pieces of software you can install on your hosting account if you want to build a website. Some of them like Drupal and Joomla are multi-purpose ones and you can use them for different types of websites. Others, like Prestashop, OpenCart or Magento are strictly for e-commerce, so they offer more options in terms of building and managing an online store. A possible issue with this option is that you may need more time to get familiar with these applications before you feel comfortable building a website with them.
- Cloud platforms. Using such a platform has been very trendy in the past several years. They are easy to use, so you can build a site in no time. The disadvantages of using a cloud platform are the limited access to the site files, the higher price point, and the lack of email service. If these are things you need, you should consider a standard hosting plan with a site builder or some application installed on the account. You can find more information in our article Web Hosting vs. Site Builders.
If you decide to hire a web developer
In some cases, you do not really have a choice and you have to hire a web developer or an agency to build and manage your website. Whether it will be because you have no spare time, you lack the skills, or something else, you have to choose somebody to work with. Here are a few things to consider when you make your choice:
- Ask for recommendations. Maybe a friend or a colleague can recommend a professional or an agency they have worked with. You can also check popular discussion boards or social media groups to see if you can make a shortlist of people that can build the site for you.
- Check portfolios. You will see if a particular developer has already created websites that you like. Sometimes the site a professional promises is not the site they deliver. If you see previous work they have done, it may be easier for you to choose.
- Talk about deadlines and costs in advance. Make sure that the project will fit within your budget, even if something unforeseen comes up. Consider all costs and sign a contract that lists what work will be done and how much you will have to pay.
- Ask if a hosting service is included. This may be an additional service you have to pay the developer/agency for, or you may have to get your own hosting package. In the latter case, ask them what type of hosting you need to avoid paying for a plan that you can’t use afterwards.
- Have a ready project. If you expect to have a good website, you should know what it should look like. You should have an idea about the pages, the structure and the content of the site when you contact a developer. You should not expect the other side to know what you want.
- Ask for a manual. If a developer or an agency will build you a website and will let you manage it in the future, you should have a good idea how to update it or edit it. You should have a manual or a recording that shows you what to do so that you don’t have to contact the developer and ask them for additional tasks that may cost more.
These are some of the important things you should consider in advance. We suggest that you give yourself enough time to think about the project as you may come up with other questions as well. You should avoid situations in which you are not happy with the developer midway through the project, as you may have wasted your time and money by that point.
Having a website is a necessity these days, so one way or another, you should have one. If you are not sure whether to build it yourself or to hire a professional, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of either option. If you have some free time and some skills, or you are eager to learn and you won't be making a living off the site, then you can go ahead and create the site yourself. If you do not have enough time or experience, or the site requires some advanced functionality that you don’t have the skills for, then it will be better to hire a professional. What matters in the latter case is to choose wisely and avoid a situation where you hire a person that will not do the right job.