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Business website: build your own or outsource? 2

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Vladimir Milanovic

Having a professional website in the digital era is not a matter of choice anymore. Today, a business website is a necessity for conducting and promoting one’s business, and a key element of marketing, especially in the service industry. However, creating a business website requires specialist skills and knowledge that don’t usually form part of your professional expertise. Depending on your time and resources there are three ways to building a website that are worth considering. You could do it yourself using popular frameworks such as WordPress, Joomla and others, use online website building tools or build it via outsourcing professional web-developers. Factors of time and money will come into play when you are making this decision. However, the direction taken by a business will be heavily based on specific needs, resources and the vision.

DIY approach to building a business website

Financially constrained and without a full understanding of the importance of having a website professionally developed, many businesses, especially start-ups, look to online website building tools or go with readymade WordPress and Joomla templates. There are hundreds upon thousands of cheap website templates and themes for you to choose from when creating a website. There are many that are free. With an investment of about $30-$50, using WordPress or Joomla frameworks, you can get an attractive, professionally looking website template. Browsing through the vast assortment available, you’ll understand why it is no wonder that templates are a popular choice for many businesses.

Here are a few websites that you might consider when looking for themes and templates: Theme Forest, Template Monster or Elegant Themes.

DIY propositions sound fantastic and you’re easily lured by the pompous language when browsing these template galleries and site building tools. It’s fast, you can build it in minutes, add or delete pages with no hassle and the content can be easily updated. Most importantly, it’s cheap. So cheap in fact, that you feel sorry for the people who are selling templates for $1. That is, until you realise that there are hundreds of other websites that look exactly like yours. You notice that the speed of the website is not as fast as you require, and you get bad Google ratings as a result. Another challenge is that the final product will be neither exclusive nor unique but rather generic-looking, so it may demand some additional work to overcome this. At this stage you may realise that customisation is not as easy as you thought it would be, but there will be no one to turn to for advice. By this point you are settled for “acceptable” and feeling a bit cheated.

Online website building tools. Fast. Easy. Now.

A slightly more attractive option is to use online website building tools. They have advanced in recent years so much that they usually offer similar features like desktop building website tools but without the technical knowledge requirements. Some worth considering are Basekit, Terapad and LightCMS.

You can create basic or complex websites, and without any technical skills you could customise the website to your liking. On the other hand, WYSIWYG type of editing usually requires a high learning curve before you can realise your vision. What is interesting about these online tools is that their commercial website usually looks and functions far better than the product they offer to clients. Website building tools differ from DIY as you don’t purchase the template or theme only, but pay fixed monthly installments for the complete service. This usually includes hosting, template charges and Google analytics integration. Some standard features are easy drag and drop web template customisation, e-commerce components, mailing lists, forums and search engine optimisation as well as domain names.

Depending on the number of pages, storage requirements and bandwidth, charges can go up quickly. Whilst the economic aspect is sound, businesses should look elsewhere when it comes to building a website. It is not only the website appearance and the initial price that should be considered. The important question is: where is your data stored and what laws and regulations apply to your data? Is your website service provider backing up your website? What is the churning policy? In short $20 per month sounds like a bargain, if you can overcome these security concerns.

Outsourcing the website development.

Outsourcing the web design to web-development companies, may be the preferred solution for businesses that need more than an online business card. If you tend to focus your lead generation, marketing and sales efforts online, having the website that is easy to find, able to convert visitors and integrate with your CRM system, is imperative when considering development options. Also, putting this task into professional hands will ensure no compromise is made in either aesthetics or functionality as your site will be built to suit your specific needs.

Many businesses choose to hire a web designer to translate their ideas into design and then employ technical professionals to deliver the final product. There are many reputable companies such as PSD2HTML, that you can hire to get the job done. It is imperative to develop a clear strategy and create website development briefs. Coordinating this undertaking between, web designers, developers, copywriters and SEO specialists could seriously affect the outcome if not handled with experience.

For these reasons, outsourcing this activity makes perfect sense. Partnering with a professional web design agency can free up your time allowing you to focus on operations and grow your business. There will be no limit to knowledge and skill set, and the final result will probably be a cutting edge product. More importantly, integrations with your internal systems, marketing automation services, analytics and ongoing maintenance should be handled by the same agency, for the best possible outcome.

So what does it come down to?

Businesses choosing to outsource website development to professionals will need to keep in mind that it requires serious capital investment. However, the cost can vary depending on the expertise level, the size and scope of the project. It will definitely not be cheap and a serious budget needs to be allocated. Time is another challenge, as outsourcing website development can become very comprehensive and therefore time consuming. The final product may not be ready in months and businesses need to consider how this can shake up their performance.

A performing website is in direct correlation with the success of your business. The manner in which you will create your business website depends on the outcome you seek to gain.

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About Vladimir Milanovic

Vladimir Milanovic
Vladimir has been working with GCOMM since 2010 on the design and implementation of the recent branding and marketing strategies. He was also responsible for the rebranding of LiveBackup in 2012. Between 2006 and 2010 he was involved in the creation and launch of Imperial Tobacco’s European BTL platform for its Davidoff brand as well as for the rebranding of French icon, Gitanes. Vladimir graduated from the Belgrade University of Arts in 2005.
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  • Peter Thompson

    The attention to detail required to make a commercial grade website is incredible. So much work is required to even identify the exact target market, the tone, look and feel. And, without that a lot of money can be wasted in the end when the intended outcome doesn’t perform. My question is where do you begin? Is it right to start from the budget? How much do you estimate a template based website will cost and how much can a complex website cost?

  • Good question Peter. Let me put it this way, it’s like preparing a dinner party. You have to know what your goal is. You have to know whose coming and how much people you need to cook for. Understand their taste, personalities and preferences. Then see how much it will cost you, considering all the ingredients. You can either order or prepare it yourself.

    Same with websites. If you really want to give your visitors what they’re looking for, expecting something in return, you have to carefully plan and execute your website, from scratch. Cost to build, anywhere between 15 and 50K. Employing a professional agency gives you access to people who first learn about your business and work with you on delivering a tool that is more than just a pretty set of online images.