Now more than ever are people starting businesses online. It’s a super-connected world and if you have a business, you need an online presence, even if that’s simply having a few social media profiles.
Other businesses require a website that is a starting point for doing business online.
The website needs to be able to display products and services, market to and engage with customers, receive payments online, and everything else in between. On top of that, the website needs to keep pace with the evolving needs of the business in a competitive and constantly shifting landscape.
It’s easier than ever to get online today, with more tools then you can even imagine but does more choice really make it easier to get started building your own website?
If you’re a business owner and not a web developer or online marketer, and don’t have years to invest in learning all this “stuff”, are you really better off building your own website?
Now, I’m all for personal development and learning new skills, and for some folks, they will more than happily dive right in with both feet and invest the hours to learn things from the bottom up.
If that’s you, then power to you! Enjoy the process.
Other people don’t want to become the expert, they want to hire an expert who has put in the time and has the experience to fast-track the process for the next guy.
These experts will be able to abstract away all the technical and unimportant details and communicate to you the meat of the situation, giving you all the information you need to make a clear and informed decision.
In this way, you don’t have to become an expert in Web design. Instead, you can be an expert in your business.
A lot of people have seen and are tempted to use website building tools to build their own website.
We’ve all seen the ads for Squarespace and Wix online: website builders that promise you can create the website of your dreams in a matter of minutes! (I’m paraphrasing, of course ;))
And of course, this simply isn’t true.
You realize, in a matter of seconds, that you actually have to apply yourself to learn the program, then troubleshoot how to make it do all the things you want it to do.
Often this requires hooking up to other third-party services, upgrading your membership to a paid package so you can access your website’s configuration, or spending hours learning new skills so you can implement the thing you want your website to do.
And for some people, they might really like the idea of this. Rolling up their sleeves and pushing through is totally respectable!
But for the other 80%, the thought “this is not what I signed up for” might cross their minds.
And I’m not against website builders. In a lot of ways, website builders make it easy to have a website because they take care of some of the biggest hassles of having a website, like security and hosting.
But if you think it’s going to be easy to create the website of your dreams then, I’m sorry to say, you are dreaming.
Learn to code your own website
Learning to code is becoming a thing. In fact, it’s becoming an essential skill to have for the future workforce and is being implemented into a growing number of schools.
That’s kinda cool, right?
And you, too, can learn to code! It’s no longer reserved for only the super-nerdy! Coding is now becoming a gateway to new careers and new possibilities for all kinds of people all over the world.
If you’re learning to code for the web specifically, you should be prepared to learn a bunch of new programming languages.
Website builders take care of needing to learn HTML and (sometimes) CSS. But if you’re needing to edit your website with any degree of granularity, it will help greatly to understand both these languages.
Most importantly, if you are going to commit to coding your own website, you will need an understanding of how programming actually works.
From conditional statements and functions to objects, data types, recursion and a whole lot more, learning how to read and understand code will supercharge your level of expertise when it comes to managing and building your own website and you probably won’t have to hire an expert any more!
Adding Functionality to Your Website
I hinted before a couple of times at the hidden implications and complications that you inevitably run into when you try and build your own website.
You want to sell your music online. How do I do that with Squarespace?
You don’t like the way the image doesn’t scale when you view it on your mobile phone. How do I edit that?
You want to add a popup to that page but only want it in that certain corner of the page. How do I that with that Plugin?
Inevitably, you’ll run into some issue with your website, and if you’re going it alone, it’s up to you to try and figure it out.
Sometimes this can take days. Trust me. I’ve been there. That’s why I can write a blog post like this because I know the reality of what having and managing a website is really like.
Now, being able to code will give you an advantage because you’ll be literate in the languages and processes that happen behind the scenes of a website, and adding functionality to your website will become a lot easier.
Unfortunately, the downside of being proficient at coding is that you will have had to have solved lots of different coding challenges in order to gain the experience needed to turn days of troubleshooting into minutes, and unfortunately, there is no way to fast-track experience. Not even Wix can make up for that!
What About WordPress?
WordPress is another popular choice among people who dabble in building their own websites. WordPress has been around for a while and is still considered one of the most popular website building platforms.
WordPress offers users the ability to easily get up and running with a theme and to write content for that website with little to no fuss.
WordPress makes it easier to get your website to do things with the help of its Plugin Ecosystem. Plugins aren’t always a piece of cake to use and need to be rightly considered for their quality before you decide to use one. A poorly made plugin can do more harm than good on your site, so take the time to consider your options.
Some of the biggest drawbacks of WordPress is its popularity and its speed.
Due to its popularity, WordPress is notoriously one of the biggest targets for internet hackers. And because most WordPress websites are often neglected, WordPress websites remain a great vehicle for hackers to inject malicious code that can use the website as its personal virus spreading machine.
As for speed, in this modern day of the web, speed is becoming one of the most important requirements of a website, and unfortunately, due to its size and dependency on other third-party code and Plugins, WordPress websites tend to be slower than some other options that are emerging on the market, for example, static site generators like Gatsby.
So, you’ve listened to my warnings and now you have a little bit better of an idea of what involved when it comes to building and developing your own website. And I didn’t even cover things like hosting and maintaining a website.
If you still want to give building your website a go, then I say good luck and enjoy the process!
For everyone else, consider that, although the ads make it look easy to get started building your own website, the reality is, having a website is actually much more complicated. Finding a company that you can trust and that provides patient and personal attention time after time is going to save you a lot of time and money and is well worth the investment.
Take care and thanks for reading!