Why a home-made website is bad for your businessAugust 13, 2012

If you are one of the many companies that has gone through the route of building your own website, you need to read this article as it explains the down sides to having a home made website and how it can adversely affect your business.

There are many online website builders which almost anyone with basic knowledge of the Internet can use to build their own online presence. This is to some extent harming the website design industry, but it is harming those companies that go it alone even more so.

In short, a website created by these online site builder tools is never going to be as good or effective as a custom built website tailored to your exact needs and I urge you to rethink your online strategy if you choose to go the cheaper route. You really do get what you pay for!

Design limitations

Firstly, you are limited to a set amount of available designs that has been pre-determined with little or no knowledge or care for your unique businesses. As a website designer, I realise that there is no holy grail of design that you can re-use to fit a wide variety of businesses. Each business and its needs are unique.

With a template you simple cannot have a unique design. Of course your photos and wording may be different, but think of the impression it gives to your clients if they have seen your website’s design in use elsewhere? At best it looks like you are cutting corners and at the worst it leaves potential clients confused, especially if they’ve seen one of your competitors use the same design.

Another major issue with having to use a template is being forced to mould your pictures and wording around the website. As web designers, we like to look at your content first, and build a website that best suits your content and the end-user (your clients!).

 

Search engines

Websites built by online tools don’t tend to rank very highly on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo! for a variety of reasons, mostly technical and this is mostly due to the way these tools have been made. A custom built website by a professional doesn’t overlook this crucial point. Most website designers build with search engines in mind and ensure all your pages are search engine friendly at the very least. If they don’t, they should!

Building blocks

Websites are built using “code” which is known as HTML. You can also use more complex code such as CSS, or programming languages such as PHP, JavaScript and many more. This does take a long time to learn and most conscientious website developers are very proud of their code and the quality in which they write it in. We adhere to “web standards” which are in essence a set of guidelines and recommendations to make sure the code we write is readable by other developers and designers and optimised to work on all sorts of different computers and devices.

Unfortunately online website creators very rarely adhere to web standards, and as a consequence the code that is used to create these cheap websites is rarely fit for purpose. It may look ok at first, but after a while of making changes and adding or removing elements to a web page things soon start looking awry and has been known to cause numerous display issues with websites.

Testing

Professional website developers have to make sure that any website they build works. But it’s not as simple as just looking at it and ticking a box.

Every computer, mobile phone or other device that is used to access web pages has what is called a web browser. I personally use Google’s Chrome browser because it’s fast and secure, but there are many others available such as FireFox, Safari, Opera and of course, Internet Explorer. If you don’t know what browser you are using then there is a very high chance you are using the latter, which is built by Microsoft.

Each web browser displays web pages slightly differently – not all the time, but sometimes a website can look absolutely fine in Chrome, but completely broken in Internet Explorer. This comes down to “web standards” again, every web browser uses the web standards as a guide when it comes to displaying web pages to you, the end user, and sometimes browsers get it wrong, or use a different part of the specifications or just interpret it slightly different. It is the role of a website developer or designer to know what to look for and to make sure your website is tested in as many different web browsers as possible, on as many devices as possible to ensure that your website functions as it should no matter what is being used to access it.

Online website tools don’t tell you this! When you are creating a website using their generator you are rightly led to assume that if it looks ok on my computer, it must look ok for all the other computers in the world? Wrong I’m afraid.

Mobile phones

Another big factor to take into account is the rise of the smart phone. Smart phones are outselling desktop pcs and laptops two to one and many people use their phones for facebook, twitter and surfing the web when they’re not at their computer.

When you view a website on a mobile phone, you have in your hands a device that has a two or three inch display, rather than a 16 inch display and this can effect how your website looks and functions dramatically, which is why testing is so important!

Online website builders don’t really keep mobile phones in mind, but website developers can make sure that your website functions just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop displays.

The whole package

Any website developer that is passionate about their job will most likely hold your hand at all stages of the design and build of your project and beyond too. It is in our best interests to make sure that your website works for you and your target market long after the website has been made live.

All online tools are interested in is making sure you pay them a one off fee and publish your site. Your website and consequently your business is never going to be successful if your website just “sits” there after it has been made live. Unless you have the most unique idea that spreads like wildfire on a hot day, you are going to need help and advice in how to make the most out of your website, how to promote it, how to use social media like twitter and facebook and even online advertising. Us web designers tend to know our stuff and we love sharing our knowledge with our clients to make sure they get a very healthy return on their investment. If you’re happy, then you are likely going to refer your friends onto us!

Now, get out there, find some local website designers, look at their portfolios and if you like the look of their work then contact them for advice. We are here to help you succeed online, it’s our job, passion and hobby.

3 Responses to Why a home-made website is bad for your business

  1. Pingback: Some links for light reading (30/8/12) | Max Design

  2. Bob says:

    Grammar

    Web site developer … passionate about their job – should be either singular or plural throughout. (Web site developers…)

    …most unique idea … – should just be ….unique idea….

  3. Pingback: Should You Build Your Website Yourself? « www.thesocialleap.com

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