Websites compliment offline businesses and help boost sales by adding credibility, being accessible 24/7 for clients to browse, and enhancing marketing efforts. Businesses want to entice customers to buy from them by providing them with the optimal browsing experience that will facilitate the purchase process, be it online or offline. Budget allocation notwithstanding, managers are faced with two digitalization opportunities: Do it Yourself or Do it For Me. While both options are valid and can yield effective results for small businesses, in reality selecting the DIY method for building a website can be detrimental to the company’s growth and, ultimately, can lead to a loss of financial resources and opportunities. Even the best templates cannot replace knowledgeable designers and marketers in building an effective website that will drive traffic to the business.
Critical Design Elements
While most small business owners have developed knowledge in various fields relating to their companies, the reality is that skills outside of their main businesses fall within the realm of “jack of all trades, master of none.” Ensuring the presence of critical elements can be a daunting task that the vast majority of non-professionals will miss. These include effective and well-placed calls to actions and logical user flows that allow customers to rapidly find the information that they seek while evoking a curiosity to spend more time learning about the company and their offering. As a large portion of web browsing is now performed on mobile devices, it is critical to ensure that customers can rapidly and easily find the information that they need or companies risk losing their business.
If a prospect arrives at a website and is unable to quickly find contact information or office hours, for example, the chances of that prospect converting into a customer are very low. On the other hand, an established designer will be able to create an optimal user experience that will drive visitors’ engagement and subsequently drive people offline to the business itself.
Similarly, the visual design should be an accurate reflection of the business and be aesthetically pleasing. An appealing website will appeal to the customer’s emotional response and elevate the sense of professionalism and trust in the company. By contrast, a poorly constructed website, especially one that is not on par with competition, will subconsciously lower their perception of the business and make the company look unprofessional.
Leading DIY website builders entice the user with beautifully constructed templates; those templates were meticulously crafted by professional designers who carefully tweak the content to perfectly match the template style. However, once a DIY user populates the template with his own content, he will usually break the site aesthetics since he lacks the design tools and abilities to adapt the content to the template styling. The end result will, in most cases, be far off the stylish template with which he started.
A beautiful website with excellent content is not enough to lead new customers to a website. Search engines index websites according to specific keywords that appear both in the actual content on the site as well in the code behind the scenes. While most DIY templates do provide basic SEO-friendly structure, their metadata lacks the depth that will allow search engines to effectively scan and index the website. Even more so, most small business owners lack the skill of crafting SEO keywords into site content. Depending on a cookie cutter template to generate traffic to a website can be detrimental, both in terms of landing new clients and in losing leads to competition.
A website is not meant to be built and forgotten; It is a tool meant to compliment offline activities and drive traffic to businesses. As such, they should not be exclusively informative, but offer opportunities to lock in prospects and turn them into customers. Some such examples are coupons, exit intent popups, and online contact forms. Additionally, of course, companies may experiment with different forms of paid marketing efforts, such as PPC and Facebook advertising, to lure prospects to the website, with all elements of the website designed to convert them into customers. Finally, an intuitive content management system will allow businesses to continuously update their website with new information and marketing campaigns.
Customer Relationship Management
Websites can be well-built and be visually pleasing, however if they lack an effective manner of capturing leads and following up on them, the entire process has been for naught. Websites should have lead capture elements that are integrated with a CRM system that organize all leads that come in from the website and allow business to contact these leads, record progress and sales, and retarget them. The vast majority of DIY platforms lack a robust CRM integration, and third party plugins will usually save leads in a proprietary format that will require users manually load and sync them with the CRM system. Manually collecting and synchronizing leads from multiple repositories is not an easy fit for most small business owners and, in most cases, will result in poorly-managed lead handling which may be worse than not collecting leads at all.
Time is Money
Ultimately, the decision between DIY versus hiring a designer to build a website comes down to time and not just financial resources. The most basic websites take a few days and even weeks of constant work to function properly. Most business owners lack the time needed to invest in an effective website that combines all of the above elements. Every minute that an in-house employees dedicate to building the website is a minute that they are not generating sales performing other duties for the company. If building the site is putting business development on hold, then the company is effectively losing money.
While DIY websites are increasingly common and can potentially produce good results, ultimately companies can miss out on business opportunities due to poorly-constructed websites. Websites lacking critical design elements, customer management systems, and an appropriate infrastructure will not effectively bring clients to the website and convert them into customers. While the DIY route can be significantly less expensive than hiring a designer to build a website, business owners should really ask themselves if they can afford to sacrifice professionalism and quality for lower price.