Jack Barber / Website Design

The False Economy of DIY Websites

Yesterday I went to visit a client of mine who before Christmas had asked me for a quote for a new website, and then decided to 'go it alone' due to the perceived expense of having a bespoke site designed and built.  Rose runs tours of Whitby, telling stories from years gone by to locals, visitors and school groups.  Having had their service suggested by a good friend of hers, she decided to use WIX to build and manage her site.

Fortunately, she had the presence of mind to register a proper domain name to use with the WIX system, which I arranged for her.  And she's using the same domain to run her new business email account (no more Yahoo).  However, that's where the positives end.

She's fairly technically able and thought creating a decent site using an apparently simple service would be fairly quick and easy.  As it turns out, it's neither, which has immediately displayed to her the false economy of these DIY website builders.

I should probably point out, just to clarify, that I'm not talking about content managed sites like Wordpress, Joomla and the like - althought they can be equally tricky.  What I'm annoyed about is all-in-one systems which aim to provide the entire site design, content management, SEO options and various plugins for extra content like blogs and so on.

Having battled with WIX's site builder for many hours, Rose asked me to call round and give her some assistance.  Having dealt with some Photoshop queries, we moved on to make about 45 minutes worth of changes to her website.  We pressed 'Save'.  We got an error.  We pressed 'Save' again.  Same error.  We Googled the error number and got a vast array of forum posts complaining of the same problem, with no apparent fix from WIX.

With no option but to start again, we lost all the changes we had made.

Having made some of the changes again, we faced a different error later on.  It wasn't clear what the error was (numbers given, not messages).  But whatever it was, it was annoying.

Rose has paid her yearly subsciption fee to WIX, who, on the face of it, fail to provide an interface which works effectively and efficiently and who fail to provide adequate support and fixes to on-going problems.

Obviously, building websites is my job, so I'm going to be a little annoyed when a client decides to use something they perceive as better value when everything within me is shouting 'don't do it!'.  However, Rose would be the first to admit it's a false economy.  She's now spent days trying to produce something which she feels represents her work effectively.  Days which should have been spent researching new stories, approaching new customers, organising new flyers and so on.

If you're thinking of doing it yourself, please think again.  There is far more going on in a good website than meets the eye.  Here are some questions you really should consider at the start of any web project:

  • Will my site do everything I want it to?
  • How easy will it be for me to update? (if that's something you want)
  • How well will my site perform in search engines - can it be easily found for relevent search terms?
  • What are the on-going costs?  Are you tied in to a yearly subscription?
  • Do you have control of your domain name?
  • Do you have any rights to the design of your site?
  • What happens if your site becomes unavailable for any reason?
  • What about backups?
  • Will it look good and work well?
  • and so on...

I am not a mechanic.  I take my car to a local garage.  I am not a plumber or builder.  I employ local tradesmen.  Are you a website developer/designer?  If not, you should probably employ the services of a professional and save yourself the time, effort and frustration of attempting to do it yourself.

Rant over.

P.S.  Here's Rose's site www.whitbystoryteller.co.uk