This article was updated on April 27, 2018.
If you’re a small business owner who wants to learn how to make a website, you’ll find plenty of information online that focuses on various aspects of these two website building methods:
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tools that enable you to choose a website template and customize it for your business.
- Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) services that involve a web designer building a site for you.
So what key factors should you consider when deciding between DIY and DIFM?
- Budget: How much money are you are willing to spend?
- Time: How quickly do you want your site to be live?
- Technical skills: What is your comfort level with building your own website?
- Level of customization: How customized do you need your site to be?
Seems fairly straightforward, right? Even so, let’s try to simplify the selection process as you weigh your best option for how to make a website. But first …
Compare your website building options
Look at a side-by-side comparison of template-based site builders, content management systems like WordPress, and professional web design services. This will help you start to zero in on your best option at a glance.
DIY website builder
- Cost: Typically an affordable yearly fee with hosting already included.
- Skill level: Beginner. No need to learn any additional coding, here!
- Time to build: Moderate. In fact, with GoDaddy GoCentral, we bet it will take you less than an hour.
- Support: Most places offer some form of customer support for this option, as it's their product.
- Updates: Update as much as you'd like — you already purchased the product.
- Features: It depends on the builder, but they're usually limited. You'll have to work within pre-set templates and styles, so just double-check to make sure it offers what you need.
- Cost: WordPress itself is a free platform, but you will need to purchase a hosting plan to support it.
- Skill level: Intermediate. You can work within a pre-built theme or template, or start from scratch.
- Time to build: Depends on the complexity of your site. While some themes make it easy to simply switch out content, you could find yourself working with a number of plugins to achieve your desired results, and that takes time.
- Support: You're limited to support forums, like WordPress Codex, to find documentation surrounding your issues.
- Updates: Free. The platform itself doesn't cost.
- Features: The world is your oyster! But some features are complicated and require technical know-how or the desire to learn in order to understand how to implement them.
Professional web designer
- Cost: The initial cost is pricier than any DIY option, but the long-term ROI might be in your best interest. You'll have to pay for hosting, too.
- Skill level: Since you're hiring a pro, no skill is needed on your part, but your designer will probably have advanced skills you currently don't have access to.
- Time to build: Depending on the scope of your site, this could range from as little as seven business days to a few months.
- Support: Varies. Your designer could have services available for maintenance, or you'll have to find documentation, hire someone else, or do it yourself.
- Updates: Typically not included, though you could look into a maintenance plan with your designer or hiring for one-off updates.
- Features: The sky is the limit, especially with a custom design from a pro.
Should cost be your main concern?
Many small business owners consider price to be the most important factor while picking a website building method. They check out the option that fits in their budget, and give that a shot.
Unfortunately, that is not the optimal way to decide how to make a website. Basing your decision on cost alone can lead to wrong turns, which can in turn result in you abandoning site building efforts mid-stream.
DIY tools are generally much cheaper than DIFM services (i.e., hiring a web designer). This is why many cost-conscious small business owners select DIY products. What they do not realize is that even under the DIY umbrella there are tools that are easy to use and others that require a little more technical expertise.
For example, there are easy DIY tools like GoDaddy's Website Builder and Online Store. If you can make a Facebook page, you can make a website or ecommerce store using these tools. Just pick one of the available templates and make it your own by adding your words and pictures.
You don’t have to be a technical wizard to make a website using one of these template site builders.
And then there are advanced DIY tools such as WordPress, which provide much greater flexibility and functionality using a vast array of plugins. You’ll need a bit more technical know-how to make a website using WordPress — although products like GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress can make it easier by handling hosting setup, daily backups and security updates. Not to mention ‘round-the-clock customer support.
Why do you need to know the difference between DIY Easy and DIY Advanced tools?
You want to choose a website building product that’s the right fit for you and your business.
Say you only considered cost and you got an easy DIY tool. You’re halfway into building your website when you realize you need a scheduling tool, submission form, blog or other custom feature not included with your templated site builder. Now you’ve got to go back to the drawing board or launch a website you’re not 100-percent satisfied with.
Or maybe you bought an advanced WordPress-based DIY tool, even though you have limited technical expertise. You have to read a how-to article every time you attempt to add a plugin — which would be fine if you had that kind of time. Instead, the learning curve has you feeling frustrated.
Which leads us to …
How valuable is your time?
Time is one of your most valuable commodities when you own a small business. You need to work smart and get things done fast. And the adage, “time is money,” applies perfectly when it comes to building websites.
The time you spend building a website could be the time your website could be spending making money for you.
If your intent is to get your website built as soon as possible, that time constraint can help everything else fall into place. Here’s how:
Step #1: Set a target launch date.
Start by setting a goal to get a website built in the near future. Select the target launch date based on how important a website is for your business. It could be within a month, within a week, or in the next three days (for you high achievers). Whatever target date you set, make it aggressive.
Step #2: Check your availability.
Look at your schedule for that time frame. At minimum, can you dedicate about one to three days to create unique website content and another half-day or so to optimize that content for search engines? If the answer is “no,” your choice is clear — you need to go the DIFM route. Look into hiring a freelance web designer or using GoDaddy’s Website Design Service, which can deliver a professional website in as few as seven business days.
Step #3: Evaluate your website needs.
If you can dedicate the time you need to build a website, think about what you need from your site. Make a list of the top five pages for your site — such as the home page, products and services page, about page, testimonials page and contact page — and what you want them to do.
Roughly sketching out your web pages can help you think through the functionality that will be required.
For example, if you need informational pages or a store to sell your products online, then an Easy DIY product should suffice. But if you need items like a scheduler, blog or form submission, then you’ll need to use an Advanced DIY product or to hire a designer.
Step #4: Assess your comfort level with technology.
Once you know which DIY product is right for you, you’ll need to assess your comfort level with it. How? Take it for a test drive — quickly. I recommend time boxing the assessment to one hour to avoid falling into the trap of getting a product that is not right for you and wasting days, weeks or months. Get the product, and play around with it. If you feel comfortable within the first hour, it’s likely the right choice for you. But if the product seems too onerous, cancel the subscription after the first hour and find a web designer.
Choose how to make a website … and GO!
I hope these tips will help you choose the best DIY or DIFM website building solution for your particular situation. Whatever path you take, stick to your target launch date. The sooner you get a site up and running, the sooner you can put that website to work for your business.