Do You Need a Pro to Build Your Website?

Jason Hill, Papercut Interactive

You have a business. Maybe it’s a startup or maybe it’s been around a while, but you’ve determined that you need a new website and you’re just not sure if you need to hire a professional to build it for you. Let me help you decide.

First, I’m really proud of you for knowing that you need a website. You can have a LinkedIn page for your company, or a Facebook page, but to really have control of your message and brand, you need your own site.

Business Goals, Skills, and Time

Whether you should hire a professional to build your site really depends on your business goals, the skills you possess and the time you have to devote to the project. Let’s talk about each of these.

First and foremost, what goals do you have for your business and how will a website help you reach those goals? Do you have so much word-of-mouth business or so many referrals that you feel you only need a brochure type website for customers to find your address? Do you want to grow your business with a lead generation website? Does your website need to be more of a software tool for customers and potential customers? Or, is it a tool for recruiting and hiring employees? 

How are your web building skills? If you need a complex web application, you’ll need some deep knowledge in programming to make that happen. Being skilled in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and other programming languages is necessary for heavy application development. However, if your site will mainly be a place for you to share your thoughts or just an online presence, you may already have the skills to use a WordPress templated site or one of the many online site builders (I’ll mention a few below). The key is to know thyself, and what thyself wants the website to do for you.

Time is not always on your side. But, if you have plenty of it, you can gain the knowledge you need to build a fairly complex website within a few months to a couple of years. Can your business wait that long though? And once you have your website, do you have the time to make regular updates and promote the site? If you are a writer or thought leader, the answer to that may be yes, but more often than not we hear owners and employees say that they are too busy and need help.

What’s right for you?

Helping achieve your business goals should be the top priority for your website. And depending on cash flow and budget, hiring a professional may not be in the cards right now. If web design and marketing are not core to your business, then you will need an expert at some point to help if you want to grow. The web has come such a long way in the past 20 years and is changing more rapidly than ever. That means that on one hand, some of the tools used to build a web presence are easy enough for most people to employ, but on the other hand keeping up with Google’s ever-changing-algorithms is a full-time job in itself. And you need Google.

That being said, if it really doesn’t make sense for your budget to hire a professional to help your business grow digitally, there are a few low cost tools that can be a great starting point. Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and even GoDaddy, all have easy-to-use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors that will enable you to get a template based website live on the web in a relatively short time. My personal favorite of these website builders is Squarespace. It’s easy to use and there are a lot of nicely designed template options.

So you see, it really depends on what makes the most sense for your business right now. The saying that “you get what you pay for” does have merit. There is no doubt that you will get a better product and bigger return on your investment by hiring a professional who can not only implement the right website plan for you, but can also market that site for you when it’s time. But if you’re a bootstrapped startup, you still have options. I believe in you. And if you don’t believe in you, let me know if I can help.

Jason Hill leads Chattanooga-based digital marketing firm Papercut Interactive

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