Should you venture out and build your own website, or should you hire a web developer? A question that has plagued startups and small businesses since the invention of do-it-yourself website builders such as Wix and WordPress.
Not too long ago, if you built a website you had to know code and you had to be an experienced programmer. Today, website platforms are making it easier and easier for you to build a website without needing to know code, but it’s not always as easy at it looks.
If you want to launch a new website or refresh your existing one there are two routes you can take:
1. Build your own website
2. Hire a web developer
Later in this article, I am going to discuss both options, their pros, and cons, and give you some simple guidelines that will help you make a decision that works best for your startup, small business, or personal project.
I’m also going to give you a bonus answer that’s kind of a middle ground between both options. But before all that, allow me to overstate the obvious:
If You Had to Choose One, Which of These Is Most Important To You?
To keep this simple, when it comes to choosing whether you should build your own website or hire a web developer there are two main aspects to evaluate.
Time & Money.
If you’re considering building your own website and weighing your options, time and money have a big role in which route you choose.
If you have money but no time, you should hire a web developer. If you have no money and a lot of time, you should learn how to build your own website and do it yourself. Easy does it right?!
But my I guess is that if it was that simple you would not be reading this article.
Having worked with a lot of small businesses, I know that every dollar counts. I also know that payroll, operational costs, and tight profit margins leave little money for marketing. Yet, you have to do it.
If you’re just starting a new business and don’t have a lot of capital or you don’t have an investor, your startup budget is probably limited.
Of course, I know firsthand that opening a new business or managing an existing one takes a ton of time.
Here’s my slightly philosophical answer:
Time and money are something most people, businesses, and projects are short on; here’s how I see it.
You can always make more money, but you can’t get back wasted time.
Or as Jay Shetty put it, “time is free but it’s priceless”.
So, an easy way to weigh the two options is to ask not to ask yourself which one you don’t have more, since most people are short on both, but to ask yourself which one is more valuable to you, your business, or your project.
If you value money more than time, meaning you don’t mind spending time to learn and build your own website, then building your own website may be your best option. I say may because time is not the only thing you should take into consideration.
If you value time more than money because there’s a lot to do or there’s a lot going in your life or your business then you should hire a web developer.
That Gut Feeling You Should Have Listened To
As I said, time and money are not the only factors you should consider when deciding on building your own website or hiring a web developer to build it.
Even though DIY web builders are pretty easy to use, they still require some basic knowledge and a degree of computer experience.
Many people hire a web developer just because they don’t want to get into the complexities of building their own website. If this sounds like you, then you should see if you can find a web developer that fits your budget (more on that later).
In other words, follow your cut feeling. If the idea of building a website yourself sounds terrifying, seriously challenging, or seems out of reach then listen to the guy feeling because you may end up wasting time and money, because even the DIY web builders do cost some money.
How Do I Make My Website Look Amazing?
Gut feeling and time and money aside, there is another factor you should consider when deciding if you should build your own website vs hiring a web developer.
Design & Quality
Are you looking for something very simple, or do you want to capture your brand’s essence and really communicate who you are and what you’re all about to your visitors?
Do you want something that looks templated, or are you looking for something that looks, feels, and functions professionally?
If you don’t have any experience in building websites and you choose the build-your-own-website option, you will sacrifice some aspects of design, user experience, and you will be limited in customizing a website to your brand.
Most website platforms offer amazing-looking templates. But the moment you start adding your own pictures, content, and trying to personalize them they quickly become limited.
To be brutally honest, it’s pretty easy to spot a templated self-built website and while “it may work for now”, your potential customers may not have the same idea.
Last week I wrote an article with 25 amazing website facts.
In that article, I list out website facts that will blow your mind related to a website’s design, speed, user experience, and mobile friendly-ness; and how that affects your visitors, their first impression, and if they choose your company.
It takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not and whether they’ll stay or leave.
It may sound like I’m not giving you an option but here’s the thing:
It comes down to what you want.
If you’re looking for something simple and dry, which happens to be how I like my wine, then a DIY website works great.
If you want to have something that looks professionally built that captures your brand, then you should hire a web developer to build your website.
My company develops websites for startups and small businesses, and I always try to fit within limited budgets whenever possible. It would be easy for me to tell you that your best route is to hire a web developer instead of trying to build it yourself.
But that’s not always the case so let’s quickly run through both options:
Need help creating your amazing new website?
How much will it cost to build my own website?
Building your own website costs less than hiring a web developer but it’s not free. So what are the costs involved?
You will need to buy a domain ($10 – 20 a year)
You will need to pay for hosting ($10 – 30 a month)
You will need to buy a pro version of the web builder you choose ($30-60)
You may need to pay for a theme, a template (the prices widely vary)
All in all, building your own website will cost anywhere from $200-$500.
Man, why isn’t everyone building their own website then? And that’s just the thing!
Wix and Shopify are easily the most widely used DIY website platforms. Of the roughly 1.7 million websites that exist, only 359,998 are built with Wix, and 427,676 websites have been built with Shopify. And since many web developers specialize in Wix and Shopify, it’s likely that a decent number of them were built by web developers as well.
At the end of the day, less than 1% of people build their own websites.
There must be a reason! Let’s look at the other side of the coin.
Is Hiring a Web Developer Worth It?
By now you probably have a good idea of whether or not you should build your own website or hire a web developer but let me address some common questions and concerns.
How much should I pay someone to build a website?
I’ve been building websites for many years, I’ve been a freelance developer, I’ve worked in a company as a project manager, I’ve been the vice president at a massive web development firm, and more recently I opened my own marketing company.
I’ve worked with overseas developers, and American developers, and I’ve done my own development.
There is a threshold where what you pay for is what you get. If you hire someone overseas for $500, then chances are your website isn’t going to be amazing. Between $1,500-$5,000 you are going to get a really great website. Above $,5-6,000 the price starts to outweigh the “amazingness” of the website.
However, not every website is the same so there are some factors that could make a website more expensive to build, some of these include:
1. How many pages will your website have? The average website has between 5-20 pages. A large website may have 100 pages or more. Some corporations have more than 1,000 pages. The number of pages you have will have a big impact on the price of your website.
2. Are you providing the content or are you having your web developer, or a content writer put it together? By content I mean the words, pictures, and videos on the website. If you provide the content, it will not only cost less but will take faster to build. At the same time, if you’re not familiar with writing content for a website it could hold up the project and tie up your time.
3. Do you want a completely customized design? If a designer is involved, that will cost more too. But today, most web developers are good designers too and can design a great-looking website without needing to involve custom designs.
4. Do you want any special functionality? By functionality I mean a feature or part of your website that does something. Some functionality is easy to build, while custom functionality requires coding, programming, and developer time.
5. Your web developer process also has a lot to do with the pricing. When I was the VP of a very large firm we had project managers who would manage many website projects, we had website builders who would do the work for building a website, we had designers who would design the websites, and we had programmers who would code aspects of a website. Because more people were involved the websites ranged from $5-15,000. In my current company, we do all the work in-house and our process allows us to combine functions, so we’re able to come in at a much more affordable price point however the website looks better than the prior company I worked at. So, the web developers’ process also affects the price.
How long does it take to build a website?
Another common question is how long should it take to build a website?
A ran a search online and I found that the average time it takes to build a website is 4-6 months.
Can you imagine waiting 6 months for a website?
With today’s technology, it should never take 6 months to build a website. I was so shocked by what I found online that I wrote my own article on how long it takes to build a website and published it with an estimate of 4-6 weeks for a basic website.
Just like there are some aspects that can make a website cost more, those same components may make the development process longer. But in most cases, a basic website should take 4-6 weeks.
To not repeat everything, I wrote in the article, here is a link to the article.
Is Hiring a Web Developer Worth It?
Web development is a skill. It’s an art and it’s something that requires training, experience, and ability. Naturally, when you are working with a web developer that’s what you’re paying for.
Seeing that 99% of websites in existence are built by web developers, yes, it is worth it to hire a web developer.
Price is obviously important. But as long as you don’t overpay for a website, I would absolutely recommend hiring a web developer. That is my unbiased advice.
My first website was a website I wanted to build for myself. I had watched numerous YouTube videos, I had researched the best platform, and was excited to start. That’s where I quickly saw that it takes some basic knowledge of websites to build your own website.
Luckily, a friend of mine had built many websites. I found myself constantly on Skype, asking him questions and sharing my screen so he could explain to me how to do what I wanted to do.
As time passed, I got more and more familiar with the platforms and how to build websites. But believe it or not, I still often run into things I don’t know how to do and am searching or asking more experienced web developers for advice.
Having a web developer build your site allows you to focus on other aspects of your startup or business, it will save you time and possibly a headache, and in the end, you will have a much better result.
How do you know if you are overpaying for a website?
I don’t know what you want your specific website to look like, do, or how many pages you want it to have, and so on. For that reason, I can’t tell you if “the price is right”.
I will tell you that here fit is more important than price.
Is the web developer or marketing company you are speaking with the right fit for you?
Find a web developer who you are comfortable working with.
Don’t just ask for his pricing; ask them questions to help you better understand and choose:
What is their website building process like?
How long does it usually take?
Can you sample website they’ve built?
Discuss what you are looking for and can they do it?
How long do they think it will take to build what you want?
What involvement is required from you?
Is there something you can do to make it easier to build the website?
How does hosting work and how much does it cost?
In the future, can they help you edit, change, or add to the site?
Do they outsource their development or how is it handled?
Ask questions that will give you a good feel for the website developer or marketing company. See if you will be able to have a relationship with them where you can update your website in the future and so on.
If you are happy and comfortable with what you see and hear and if the price is in the right range, meaning it fits your budget or is slightly above or below your budget, well then it sounds like you have a good fit.
Build your own website if you are artistic, creative, computer savvy, have some website knowledge, and have close to no budget for a website.
If you do decide to build your own website, choose Wix or Shopify to get something very basic up and running fast.
Hire a website developer if you have a budget, even if it’s small. Hiring a web developer will give you a much more professional website that works fast, is user friendly, looks good, is customized to your brand, and functions well on mobile devices and tablets.
While there are several factors that will determine the price of your website or how long it takes to build it, consider that a basic website should take 4-6 weeks to build and cost between $1,500 – $3,000.
When choosing your website developer or marketing company, focus on “fit” rather than “price”, and ask questions to help you understand the process and feel comfortable with your choice.
I hope this article has helped you decide whether you will build your own website or hire a web developer.