Do I need a dedicated web developer for my company? It’s a question that people ask themselves a lot.
If you have an online company that wants to grow, eventually, you will have to invest in some skilled technical help, but do you need a dedicated website developer on your staff?
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When do you decide to go from do-it-yourself to hiring a pro? Do you ever want to do-it-yourself?
Let’s explore if you need a dedicated website developer or not.
First, A Warning Story
A few months ago, I was helping a client with their website. After publishing hundreds of blog posts, this client did not understand why their traffic was so low. After doing some digging into the problem, I realized that none of the traffic coming to this site was organic. It didn’t look too good. So I continued my audit and found the problem — the site was no longer being indexed in Google.
You see, when the site migrated to a new url, the business owner did not properly index the site in Google.
That meant that the entire site was off of Google’s radar — not very good for traffic. Of course, I would have blamed the on-staff developer, but alas, this owner did not have one on staff — not even on contract. This entire debacle could have been avoided if this owner had realized the importance of having a dedicated website developer on call.
Alas, that is the problem with make-your-own websites these days. The number of products out there that allow you to create your business site, with little to no professional help is endless. Many of these are easy to learn, easy to execute and offer a business owner a lot of creative freedom to get online.
Yet, with each of these solutions, the technical problems remain. With the many things that go wrong with a website, especially one that is the cornerstone of your business, why would you not want a professional involved? But do you need a dedicated website developer, let’s discuss.
Make Your Own Websites — The Rundown
You would think only new businesses or small, solo-run companies get make your own website solutions, but alas my friends, I have found that is simply not the case. It would seem that companies of all sizes think they can get away with making their own website or worse, hiring a team that gives them a ready-made, cookie-cutter solution.
So before I discuss if you should invest in a dedicated website developer, let’s go through the top choices if you decide (gasp!) to do it alone. I’ll go through some of the pros and cons of each to help you make a smart decision.
I’ve heard a lot about Wix these days. I know a few solo entrepreneurs and new companies that have their websites on Wix, so I thought I’d have to add this to the list. Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons so we can really dive into this.
If you are not a professional designer or website developer, Wix can be a great way to get you online and still look great. With hundreds of templates to choose from, you can make a decent looking and functional site in a few hours. That, I would say is the biggest appeal of using Wix – the ease of use. You won’t need to wait for a website design team to come back with the wireframes, then code out your site– you can do it all yourself.
Another big pro of Wix is the ease of use — with the drag and drop website building technology. Anyone, even me, can build a Wix site, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be great.
You see, not all of us understand design principles. It takes a lot of training to become good at design, plus there are design principles we all have to keep in mind.
You also have to realize that web design is more than just nice images, or a fancy font — it has to function as a branding and marketing tool online. There are a lot of principles that go into making a website work for your company. If you want to use your site as a tool, that converts into leads or sales for you, then you’ll need some strategic, expert help.
If you have some design skills of your own and think you want to use Wix, this might be a decent option to start. Here are some great examples (from Wix) of sites built using their platform.
If you are considering a Wix site, remember that it doesn’t come free. Wix uses a monthly subscription pricing model which means that if you want to create your site and keep it online, you’ll need to keep forking out these monthly fees. If you think 10 bucks a month (for the personal combo package) isn’t that much, consider this. The personal use package does not include many of the features you’ll actually need, including eCommerce, for a growing business. You will end up paying more. 17 USD adds up month after month over time.
Like Wix, I know a lot of entrepreneurs that swear by Shopify for their business site so there has to be a lot of pros for this choice, and there is. The backend is intuitive and easy to learn and the e-commerce capabilities are quite impressive, but again, all is not what it seems with Shopify, let’s discuss.
So How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify is easy to use and straightforward. If you have any problems figuring something out, they do have excellent customer service. Here’s how you set up Shopify:
- Pick a Shopify pricing plan.
- Choose a design/template for your store. You can make the site yourself or hire a designer, it’s drag and drop so it’s not too difficult.
- Add your products, page content, payment options, — set up your store.
- Start selling!
If you want to sell stuff online, Shopify can help you. That’s their biggest value proposition and one that is hard not to discuss. They have helped many brands sell loads of stuff online and as a company themselves, they continue to thrive and corner the marketplace for what they do.
Shopify, as I mentioned earlier has a simple backend interface that is easy to use and quite intuitive. You’ll need to invest some time to learn how to create your site, but you can get lots of support from their customer service team, plus their online resources are beyond amazing.
Another pro of Shopify is their resources. As a company, they have really established the brand to help companies make money online. Their blog, YouTube channel and downloadable guides are filled with industry reports, tips on how to improve sales, design your site, drive traffic to your blog — you name it. I personally have learned a lot from the Shopify reports and blogs!
Shopify sites also function very well if you want to sell stuff, the only caveat is that you’ll have to continue using Shopify (and paying for it) for ongoing support and to keep your site up. If you are a small business, just getting started with online sales, Shopify fees could almost crush you. If you are a more established brand, this might be a good option for you.
Just like Wix, one of the major cons for Shopify is the cost, namely the monthly subscription costs that you have to keep paying for your site to work. Here is the Shopify pricing table:
As you can see, there are a lot of add-ons as you grow. The more extensive you want to make your online marketplace, the more addons you can encounter. You’ll have some customer support, but unless you hire a dedicated Shopify support team, you’ll be on your own.
WordPress Ready Made Themes
Of all the make your own sites, I would have to say I prefer WordPress. There are a lot of themes to choose from and for content-based sites, there are many that work very well.
But here’s the problem with off the shelf WordPress themes.
If you’ve owned a business for more than five minutes, you’ve likely received a call from a Yellowpages representative. I know I have. Extremely sales focused, I wish that they would have focused more on their development and customer support departments. While I do believe that being a part of a known online registry can help with your traffic, especially when it comes to local searches, I do not believe that Yellowpages is the way to go, despite all their claims.
While I do believe that you should be a part of many directories online (this can really help you with your local SEO), going the Yellowpages route is not the answer. If you want any kind of autonomy with your site, you need to stay away from Yellowpages. Changes to your site could take weeks, at minimum a few days. You’ll have to use their templates and you won’t be able to grow. I’m surprised that so many business owners still choose this as an option for their website.
The benefits of possibly being at the top of the search results do not seem to be worth investing in a Yellowpages website. Any website designer worth their salt won’t help you develop one as well. There are just better options out there.
When you need to hire a website developer
I personally don’t feel that you always need to hire a website developer from the get-go — it all depends on what you want to accomplish. But, if you want to grow your company, or if you want to have any kind of e-commerce options on your website, you are going to have to invest in a website developer.
There are a few options out there though. Until you can justify the budget to have a dedicated team member, many agencies offer a great option. You get the value of hiring contract players, with the benefits of having an entire team at your disposal. You might not the dedicated care and daily updates and tweaks a dedicated website developer could offer, but then again, you won’t have to cover additional employment expenses or deal with HR.
Do It Yourself Options
- Might be cheaper to buy and pay someone to setup initially.
- Most of them have monthly service fees that add up over time.
- Options are limited to their templates and designs.
- Relatively easy to setup, won’t have to wait for a team or designer to get your website done.
- Will only last you two or three years before needing a full web overhaul.
- Easy to outgrow.
- Can have a negative effect on your SEO efforts.
- Can prevent you building a solid relationship with a design agency.
Custom Builds / Dedicated Website Developing Team
- Will seem expensive initially, but over time will prove its value.
- Can be built upon and added to, or redesigned, rather than ripped up.
- Will grow alongside your company.
- Built right, will have a positive effect on your SEO.
- Helps you build a solid relationship with a design agency.
- Will create a more powerful website design tool for your company.
- Will be less expensive moving forward if you want to add on shopping or e-commerce solutions.
When you need a DEDICATED website developer.
If you want to use your website as a cornerstone of your company — you need a dedicated website developer. If you are starting out, you might be able to get online yourself, using one of the do-it-yourself options we discussed, but you will quickly outgrow these options if you want to take your online company to another level.
Some of these choices seem daunting in the beginning. It’s really up to you what you want to get from your website and what you want your brand to do online. If you have big plans, want to grow your company, make lots of money online, it’s worth an investment in a dedicated website developer from the get-go.
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