Why Can't I Build My Own Website?

Why Can't I Build My Own Website? (Source: - used as royalty free image)

Every business should have a website.

Is it controversial to say this?

We hope not. Today, that statement isn’t a big swing, but rather a pretty foundational belief; having a web presence is just the cost of doing business in 2017, akin to making sure that your brand was properly listed in the phone book’s yellow pages 20 years ago.

So if it’s taken for granted that every business needs to be online, why do so many still insist on cutting corners and taking the easy way out at every turn, using free website templates or, even worse, just calling up a friend or coworker to quote-unquote develop a site?

Before we go on, we should note that, admittedly, we are a little biased about this topic; web design and web development are key to what we do here at Geek. We believe that having a beautiful, functional, high quality website is the cornerstone of any comprehensive approach to content marketing, and we pride ourselves on the pages and campaigns that we’ve helped create for our clients here in Chicago and around the country.

But our position as web developers also puts our team in a unique place to comment on this debate, one that happens for small businesses across industries every single day – to create a site on your own, or to turn the process over to a professional?

Certainly, it’s easy to see the appeal of building a site on your own, possibly with the aid of a “free” web development toolkit such as Squarespace or Wix. In many respects, going it alone on web development is the less expensive option initially, and it’s not hard to see why many business owners would prefer to kick a few cooks out of the kitchen, so to speak. Fewer people working on your web development project means fewer people to have to communicate with overall, making for a job that is more streamlined, more personal, and more manageable… in theory.

See also: 5 Reasons Not to Use a Free Website Builder for more insight on site ownership, search engine limitations, professionalism, support, and functionality.  

So if cutting costs and cutting out the middleman are the biggest reasons why business owners want to build their own websites, what are the reasons to go with a professional service? Well, the reality is that hiring a professional is actually more likely to save you money and streamline your process in the long-term.

Hiring a Website Professional Will Save You Money

While free website builders may seem appealing, the reality is that most actually aren’t free.

No matter what, hidden costs and fees are likely to creep in, whether it’s the cost of hosting your domain or the upcharge that comes with “premium” features that are really must-haves, such as social media plug-ins, credit card processing options, shopping carts, or video players. What’s more, for just about all of those processes, the free web builders offer functionality that is quite limited for the cost. A professional designer/developer will be able to equip you with better tools, often for less total cost. 

A professional with design experience will also be able to ensure that your branding is consistent and unique across your digital portfolio – including not just on your landing page, but your social media profiles and email newsletters – rather than relying on the pre-fab designs, monotonous templates, and cookie cutter layouts that are the stock-in-trade of free website builders and amateur designers. Think of functionality and branding like painting: Anyone can put colors on a canvas, but it takes time, skill, and training to combine familiar elements in a new way, to create something that transcends the commonplace and achieves something more, and to apply it wherever it may be needed.

And then there’s the matter of future costs. Even if your site is cheap to build up top, what about future maintenance? What about when your host decides to raise their rates or even allow your site to disappear forever due to some sort of behind-the-scenes drama or some quirk in their terms of service? Should this happen, you’ll find yourself on the hook for building a new website essentially from the ground up, since your old one is usually owned by your “free” hosting service.

In all, that offer of a completely “free” website is usually too good to be true. Even if you don’t have to pay initially, a website is not a “set it and forget it” proposition, and you will still see the costs – of the sort that could be averted with a professional’s guidance – pile up in the future.

Speaking of which…

Hiring a Website Professional Will Save You Stress

We’ve written before about how building your brand’s perfect website can be a lot like finding a “forever home” in real estate. In both cases, it’s important to realize that getting the perfect foundation is only one piece of the puzzle. Despite your best intentions, things are always going to go wrong and require upkeep and maintenance.

In real estate, you’re advised to build positive relationships with service professionals and contractors who know your home and its systems, so that they are better equipped to care for your house should anything go wrong.

Your website works the exact same way! When a problem comes up, it needs to be treated right away, and it’s always easier to work with a web developer who knows the ins and outs of your site, rather than hiring one who may not understand the back end of your unique website. Similarly, an experienced web builder will be able to more effectively diagnose and fix your trouble spots as they come up, particularly compared to a "weekend warrior" web developer; if you’re going it completely alone as a DIY-er, it could take significantly longer to identify the root cause of your trouble or get in contact with a customer service associate at one of the monolithic hosting companies, costing you time that could otherwise be spent running the actual day-to-day of your business.

Plenty of professional website builders will also build long-term service clauses into their initial contracts, meaning that you can keep them on retainer for upkeep or maintenance for quite some time, usually for a fraction of what it would cost to bring on a second team or try to tackle the problem by yourself. 

The same goes for inbound marketing, which can be costly and inefficient to attempt to integrate onto a pre-fab website. Here at Geek Chicago, we find that content creation and web development are deeply linked, and we keep both aspects of the process in-house; if you start with a bare bones website and then later decide to ramp up your digital marketing efforts, you may find that it costs a lot more to get your marketing off the ground than it would have for you to build in content creation and lead capture capabilities from the start. 

And all of this is to say nothing of the fact that quick DIY fixes or patches can often do more harm than good, causing just as many issues as they may help temporarily repair!

The Bottom Line

In the end, the Geek philosophy is simple: Although you certainly can build your own brand website, it’s almost always better in the long run to consult with a professional, who will almost always be able to get you started on the right path, with better functionality, for less money overall.

Want to talk pricing? Curious about what sets our web design and development workflow apart? We’d love to hear from you! Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).