Should you use a website builder, or hire a professional?

So you are ready to start creating your website. But first, you need to make an important decision. Should you use a website builder like Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, or WordPress.com and do it yourself, or should you self-host and hire someone to build your website?

Why use a website builder, when time is money?1. Time is Money
There are several considerations that come into play, not least of which is money. There are various costs involved in building a website: hosting, domain name, graphic design, software, and keeping your site's software and content updated and secure. There are annex costs like branding, and keeping your social media updated. If you have a limited budget and plenty of time to handle all of this yourself, then why not save some money? If, on the other hand, you have  a budget for website development, and your time is better spent concentrating on other aspects of your organization, then it makes sense to hire someone else to build your website.

2. Control of your backups
Sometimes companies go out of business or have software or hardware issues. If you trust your website builder to stay in business, protect your website, and make backups of it, then full speed ahead! Sign up with one today and get started on your website. If you'd rather know for certain that you have access to all of your site content, regular backups, and you want full control over your website backups so you can recover them at any time, for any reason, then a self-hosted website created by a pro is the way to go.

3. Control of your design, content, and domain name
A website builder is likely to be a proprietary program. That means if you want to move on to a self-hosted website later, you'll probably have to rebuild it from the ground up. If you have big plans for your organization, and your website is an integral part of your identity and your organization's present and future plans, you'd do well to invest up front in a long-term web solution. WordPress.com websites are portable to an extent, so that is our top recommended option if you choose to use a website builder. With a hosted website builder, you may save money on hosting. Some website builders offer free hosting plans. But remember, free is never free. You may have to use a domain with that company's name in the URL. If you don't mind advertising for the company in exchange for free website hosting, then this might be a good option for your organization. However, we'd suggest that a domain name related to your organization alone comes across as much more professional. So if you do choose to use a website builder, we encourage you to pay for the step-up that allows you to use your own domain name.

4. SEO considerations
Some website builders are better ranked than others for search engine optimization of your website. If you want full control over your search engine optimization, a custom-built site with SEO instruction from your chosen web agency is the way to go. If you're building a website and relying on outside advertising or word of mouth rather than organic search engine traffic, you might use a website builder as a starting point.

Should you work harder and use a website builder? Or work smarter?5. What is your skillset?
If you are a graphic design pro and a web programmer, then who better to build your site than you? But if you aren't that comfortable doing it yourself, and it would take you a lot of time to learn how to build and manage your website even with a website builder, then you might be better off hiring someone else to make your visions reality. Some website builders are intuitive. Others are less so, and have a sharper learning curve. Your time is important to your organization or business. Why spend it on something where your particular expertise isn't being used to its full capacity? Is this a time for you to work harder - or work smarter?

6. Do you want your website to stand out?
If a standard, run-of-the-mill design suits you, and you don't mind your website looking like all the other websites out there, then a website builder may be the best choices for you. But if you want your organization to stand out with a custom design that's different from everyone else's, you'll want to hire a design agency or web agency to get your site off the ground.

Here is a handy infographic to help you decide which way you should go.

infographic-website-builder

Are you ready to talk to a professional about your organization's website?

RED can help.

As professional partners, ready to help your organization succeed, we'll go with you every step of the way.

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Alisa Cognard

Alisa was one of the first team members to join Red Earth Design, Inc. in early 2004. From data entry, she progressed to MySQL database manipulation and PHP coding. Alisa is responsible for all kinds of odds and ends: installing new websites, adding features to them, programming databases, PHP coding, website troubleshooting, website security, and organizational tasks for Red Earth Design.

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