Friends don't let Friends Build Websites on the Side

A few years ago, I was  alking to a friend of mine who has been a professional photographer for quite some time. He was expressing frustration with the growing number of amateur photographers. “Anyone with a DLSR camera thinks they can be a photographer.” I thought that being in the web development business meant that I would be immune from this.

I was wrong.

More and more, I’m seeing businesses and organizations using amateur website designers. I can only speculate that they are doing this because of the price point, and in some ways I can’t blame them. A website done by a firm will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars, and so when you compare that to the < $1000 price point of most amateur website designers, it seems like an easy and economical choice.

For those of you considering going a lower end route, let’s talk about what you can expect from your website.

Depth of Knowledge

First of all, you are going to likely get some sort of template which means that your business needs won't be considered in the design. It will also not be geared towards usability for your visitors which means you may lose business and not even know it. It definitely won't be optimized for conversions which means that those visitors that stay on your website will be less likely to convert into sales. Good quality website design affects more than just the look and feel and you MUST take these things into consideration when building a website.

Long Term Success

Secondly, let’s look at what you’ll get from a maintenance perspective. You’ll likely get some sort of basic HTML website, or if you're very lucky, a CMS system that will allow you to make updates. You likely won’t have anyone available to help you if something breaks, and if they went the CMS route, they may not know how to fix the website when it DOES break. You almost always won’t have someone that is able to customize that CMS to suit your business needs, and will end up with something that is either hard for you to update,  or is lacking functionality to automate the maintenance of your website.

Bringing in the Bacon

Then you have to consider all the other major aspects of Internet marketing. I highly doubt your budget developer is going to be providing any sort of Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Marketing, Social Media Training, or any other services that can make or break the success of your IT marketing plan.  Without these services you are essentially building your website and hoping that someone stumbles upon it.  It is easy to see the potential repercussions if we considered doing this with our brick and mortar locations.  Imagine buying a building, not putting a sign up to tell your customers that you are there and painting all the windows black so that they can’t see in.  A website without the proper SEO and marketing work will have a similar impact.

So when considering to go with a professional or amateur for your next website project, I ask you to consider more than just the price in your decision making. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and with the importance of the web in today’s world, you should strive to present your business or organization in the best possible light.