Should you hire a web design agency or should you attempt to build your own website with one of the cheap template systems out there? Here are my top ten reasons to go with a pro.
1) You have no idea what good looks like. You haven't studied web design. You have no professional experience and no clue how to tell an effective website from an ineffective website.
2) You're not creative. Creativity is an innate gift which can be cultivated but not taught. You don't have it if you didn't gravitate toward one of the creative professions.
3) You don't know anything about marketing and branding unless you've studied it rigorously or have acquired training on the job. You have no idea how to most effectively position your product, relative to the competition, and sell it to customers. That you think you know, when you have zero distance from the problem, ought to give you a heart attack.
4) You don't know anything about SEO and digital marketing unless, again, you've studied it rigorously or acquired on-the-job experiential training. After you've built your website, you have no idea how to rank high in the major search engines. You also have no idea how to leverage social media to get found.
5) You can't write a sizzling headline. Headline writing is a paid profession for which some people get paid a lot of money. You have never pursued this as a paying job and stand no chance of ever being hired.
6) You can't write crisp copy. You did not train to be a professional writer and have no idea what do with a blank page. You have never written for a living. English composition, grammar and spelling were not strengths for you in school, or of much interest. You never heard of "The Elements of Style;" or, "The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law." Reading the great writers to study their craft isn't your thing.
7) You can't edit digital photos. This is another well-paying profession. You aspired to other things. You don't know how to crop, resize, retouch, enhance, arrange layers, blend and adjust image density for Web. Those are just a few of the basics you need to master. You've heard of Photoshop but never used it. You've never heard of Gimp, the free open-source version used by millions of web designers worldwide. If I asked you how to format images for Retina screens, would you even know what I was talking about?
8) You can't draw a vector graphic. In fact, you're not even sure what that is. It's digital artwork, otherwise known as graphic design. This is another thing you never trained for or ever manifested an aptitude for. You've heard of Illustrator but never used it. You've never heard of Inkscape, the free version used by millions of web designers worldwide.
9) You have no idea how to optimize the mobile view of your website. You also have no clue how important it is, if you expect to ever rank high on Google and the other major search engines.
10) You'll be using a website builder that's so dumbed down, it can't do anything more than show static text and graphics. You'll be out of luck if you need more than a simple brochure with cookie-cutter visual elements. You also will not actually own the website. You're going to be a tenant on a big network of websites. Pretty soon you'll realize how quickly those modest-looking monthly fees add up. You'll be paying them forever. If service plunges off the cliff and prices rise, you're stuck. You won't be able to move your website to a different host company. Because you're just renting. The website company owns it.
The last point I need to stress is this: Your do-it-yourself website is going to cost a whole lot more than the one that's professionally built and maintained. True cost of a website has to be calculated from multiple angles. What you pay for the up-front construction is just the beginning of the end, bottom-line cost.
When the do-it-yourself website proves to be ineffective, it can be a huge drag on income. The drag can be assigned a dollar value by projecting missed sales opportunities. Every missed opportunity, due to your ineffective website, is part of your net cost. The professional website might cost more up front, but will pay it back generously in the form of realized opportunities. It will be a be a deal maker instead of a deal breaker.
Don't believe the TV ads for the do-it-yourself website and how great it turned out. There's one that makes me double up laughing. A grinning surrogate avatar figure sitting behind a clean and spiffy Office Max desk gestures proudly toward a giant monitor in the background showing the amazing business website he built all by himself.
Sorry but here's the truth. His homemade website is going to stink like bat guano unless he has all the skill sets I've delineated in this post, and it will spell the death of his company.