Is your business website looking a little dated, like it could really do with a makeover or, perhaps, a complete root-and-branch rebuild? Maybe you have been toying with the idea of creating a new website in-house, rather than handing the task over to outsourced professionals.
If you have come across the advertisements from do-it-yourself website builders such as Wix and Squarespace you could be tempted to believe that you don’t need to be tech-savvy to build a website that looks great and functions exactly the way you’d like it to. As it turns out, there’s a lot of truth amongst this hype – these days it really is possible for those with no website development experience and limited technical ability to create a website that presents well and performs at least most of the functions you need it to.
All of which raises the question –
Should the next version of your business website be one that you’ve created internally or does it make more sense to leave it to the experts?
The short answer is … there is no short answer. Both options come with their own pros and cons and there are plenty of factors to consider. What is almost certain, however, is that it will be less costly to create and manage your website in-house. But the risk is that by saving money you lose out in other ways, perhaps by having a website that is less user-friendly, less professional-looking and less enticing than those of your competitors. When you only have a few seconds to make a good first impression, you want your site visitors to feel confident that yours is the right business for them.
In deciding which option to take a good starting point is to determine what it is that you want your website to do and whether you even have the internal resources to deliver on what you require. If your business can get by just fine with a website that is little more than an online brochure, outlining what your business is about and showcasing your products and services, you should be able to get your needs met via one of the user-friendly website builders. With any of these platforms you can choose from a wide range of templates for your design and then customise it to meet the needs of your business.
However, even though DIY website builders correctly promote themselves as being suitable for the non-tech-savvy, that doesn’t mean that a considerable investment of time is not required in order to create a business website. If you are going to delegate the task of creating a new website to a member of your team, be sure that that person has plenty of time available to do the job properly.
It’s when requirements are somewhat more complex that it might be best to call in the experts. When you look at the websites of those companies with which you compete for business, what do you see? Sophisticated sites with powerful functionality, eye-catching design and other features that set a high standard for your industry? Naturally you don’t want your business to suffer by comparison. The quality of the user experience will largely determine the level of engagement visitors have with your website. If your website looks shabby and is difficult to navigate your potential customers are going to click off it pretty quickly.
As in other areas of business, it’s best to outsource those things that you’re ill-equipped to manage in-house. When you outsource your website project you place the job in the hands of people who live and breathe this stuff. You don’t know what you don’t know, and a website development specialist will be able leverage their expertise to ensure that you get the most out of your site, most likely in a number of ways that you hadn’t even thought of.
From a design perspective, an external developer will not be constrained by a limited range of out-of-the box options. Your website will be built from the ground up and reflect your business’s uniqueness in the market with a design that is yours and yours alone. A professionally designed website will also instil trust in your business. Research has shown that most people place a high value on the look and feel of a website when assessing a business’s credibility. If your website looks cheap and amateurish, why wouldn’t your potential customers conclude that maybe that’s a reflection of the way you do business? The better that all-important first impression is, the more likely it is that you will turn a prospective customer into a real one.
If you want your website to be a powerful driver of business success – and who doesn’t these days? – it can be well worth it to bring in expert outside help. There is not much point to having a stunning website if people can’t easily find it, and the higher your ranking on Google and other search engines the more likely it is that valuable leads will come your way. If your website isn’t ranking highly, your potential customers will find your competitors first. Why miss out on sales when you don’t have to?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a specialist field and when it’s done properly it can dramatically boost traffic to your website. Is anyone on your team familiar with terms like uniform resource identifiers, title tags and meta descriptions? If that question is met with blank stares, call in a professional. An expert developer will know the strategies and techniques to maximise the visibility of your site and bring in new business. And when Google changes its search algorithms – which it does quite frequently – your outsourced professional will be across it and be able to make the necessary adjustment to keep your website as high in the rankings as possible.
If you want people to use your website for the purchase of goods or services, it can be quite risky to have that function managed by those without specialist skills. The right website development expert will know how to integrate an effective and reliable electronic payment system within your website.
A specialist web developer will also know to best present your product offerings so that users can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
For the vast majority of businesses it is simply not practical to use non-specialist internal resources to set up and manage ecommerce so if you want to do it properly, enlist outside help.
The bottom line
Whether you manage the task internally or outsource it, your new business website should be regarded as an investment rather than an expense. The old saying that ‘you get what you pay for’ applies as much to a website project as anything else. If your budget is small, if your requirements are basic and if you have someone internally with sufficient time and enthusiasm to learn how to create a site using one of the more popular website builders, by all means have a crack at doing it in-house.
But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, or if you need your website to function to its maximum potential over the long term, outsource the project. Specialist web developers are across all the best practices when it comes to designing and monetising a site and their expertise could result in more sales and healthier profits for your business.