Community Pick: Many members of our community have endorsed this article.
Editor's Choice: This article has been selected by our editors as an exceptional contribution.

DIY Website? Fool for a client...

Building “do-it-yourself” web sites has become an epidemic. There are so many blogs, web sites and even books that "teach" you how to build your web site in a few extremely simple and easy steps. Building a web site has become easier than boiling an egg.
But, is it really so?

Lets get serious about this – if your TV set does not work you call a TV repairman. If your car does not sound as it should you take it to a car mechanic to have it checked by a professional. Even if your tap is leaking, you call a plumber and don't try to fix it yourself. So why on Earth you should do your web site by yourself?

Whenever you call a professional to fix things, you actually save the time and money, not to mention the embarrassment and trouble you might (and probably will) cause yourself with incompetent intervention.

The “be your own webmaster” concept appears really attractive. It looks adventurous, challenging and like something you can actually do, especially with all those WYSIWYG and CMS tools in Cyberspace, making it almost impossible to resist the temptation.
And telling your boss and co-workers that YOU are going to do the new web site is an unforgettable feeling (you could swear you saw the tears of gratitude in the eyes of your boss).

The process itself usually starts with installing all the required software (some photo editing software, good HTML editor - WYSIWYG if possible), or in rare cases selecting a good template for template based systems. Then you arm yourself with piles of photos, written content, charts and reports, make a brief consultation with you colleagues (just to be polite and not exclude them completely, and maybe a little bit to make sure they know who’s running the show here). So that’s it, right? You’re ready now and the new web site is just around the corner, right?

Well, unfortunately, no, I’m afraid you are not even close to being ready. All the wanders of Cyber world “including but not limited to” software, hardware, your enthusiasm, CMS, WYSIWYG, WTH (even WTF) and all other abbreviations can not make it up if you are lacking any of the key ingredients of a good, successful web site:

Great graphic layout - face it - either you have the talent and training for graphic design or you don’t. And if you don’t have the talent, you can’t get it, and there’s no tool to replace it.
Easy to follow, descriptive and intriguing text – state of the art graphics will catch visitor’s attention, but the good copy is what makes them browse your site and learn about your offerings. There’s no use in having great design when your visitors get confused with your explanations.
SEO optimized HTML – even the greatest web site is of no use if nobody visits it. And although there are many roads to your web site, most visitors will come by the “Search engines highway” if they could only find the road sign pointing to it.
Do you see anyone around you having ALL these? I doubt it, for the simple reason that some of these (if not all) are the antithesis to each other – most of programmers are perfect in understanding the Internet and how it works. They are also very good in programming and making search engine optimized code. However, when it comes to marketing and graphic design their capabilities can be measured only using nanotechnology. Most designers, on the other hand, master the colors, fonts, layout design and visual organization but have no clue how their own computer works, let alone the web and Internet. And from their point of view, marketing is some strange thing done by very annoying people that always want to comment and change their work. People from marketing know it all about the market, SEO, customers but they could not care less about how Internet works and how important is the difference between #666666 and #999999 (let alone more advanced design questions like positioning the image with single pixel precision).

Even if you decide to build using a team of people from your company (and there goes that admiration you’ve earned), finding people alone will be quite a task, not to mention that that group of individuals should start working as a team before their retirement. Then again, you have to pay them more for additional work, and that changes the budget significantly, which was the main reason for doing it yourself at first place. And since too many cooks spoil the broth, this teamwork can easily lead to correcting multiple errors and this will produce losses in time and money.

Eventually this entire adventure ends up in the system administrator’s corner. And system administrator is a special (very special, if I may say) kind of IT specialist. He usually lives quietly, locked in some distant, hidden office, where he uses all possible means to make sure your IT system continues to work properly in spite of users doing their best to take it down. He for one does not have neither patience nor time for marketing managers nor designers (especially the designer) and he hates HTML programming, considering it a way for amateurs to make themselves feel like real programmers. It usually takes ages for him to finish the web site (if he ever finishes it in the first place) and final costs are far beyond anything that you would pay to the professionals.

So, if this scenario sounds familiar, if the main graphic on your web site is a shining “Under construction” sign, if your system administrator (or friend, neighbor, girlfriend, boyfriend or any other person that promised you to finish the web site) is too busy to finish (or even start finishing) the work, do a favor to yourself, your boss, coworkers and the company and hire the professionals to develop your Internet presence.

Comments (12)

Scott FellDeveloper & Coffee Roaster
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Perception is reality and folks can only perceive what they physically see and don't even care the ramifications because the joy they get "creating" and spending 10 times the amount of their time then it would have cost to pay to it have it done right and fully understand the markting and seo aspects.    

You just have to fire those clients and find more that think like younghy.  If your client can't get the concept of doing what they do best to make money, your marketing and seo won't matter to them.   Just let them fail on their own and don't waste your time.     All creative aspects are in the same boat - printing, photography, video.....  
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.


Obviously.  But if you needed to make a change to your billboard page (new phone number, say) and everyone's out of town, wouldn't you appreciate a designer who had the foresight to think ahead and make sure you were empowered to do that?
Author of the Year 2011
Top Expert 2006


Time for an 'Ooops' moment.
I checked my email messages (from June '07) and I actually do have access and the password - and the designer encouraged me to learn some of the basics.

With that correction out of the way, let me answer your question with a question.

Given that my website was created in June 2007 and went from start up to number one in the Google rankings in less than 5 months, why would I have the temerity to consider logging in and changing anything? Am I going to improve something?

Anyone doing a Google Search (in my area) for computer+repair+(my city) sees my little one man shop as the first hit. To me, this is the ultimate "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" scenario.

I fully understand the thought of the 'owner' of a website having access to - and the knowledge for editing - their own web site, but there are also those of us who simply have no interest in anything but the results.

My slice of the IT world is this infinitesimal little chunk known as fighting malware and I do OK at it. I'll leave the rest of the pie to those who know what they're doing.
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

>> Anyone doing a Google Search (in my area) for computer+repair+(my city) sees my little one man shop as the
>> first hit. To me, this is the ultimate "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" scenario.

Well, yeah...


I'd like to thank you all for voting my article helpful. I did not expect such interest (and definitely did not expect to start this discussion).

The idea for this article came from years of experience with corporate clients. Many of them came to our company to build SECOND version of their web site, mostly after unsuccessful attempts to build decent web site with in-house staff. In their defense, I have to say that those companies are among best clients and that working with them is a real pleasure – once they embarrass themselves with their web site, they’re ready to accept any professional advice, and that makes them 100% cooperative.

Generally I was not talking about startups and small businesses (very few of those have an in-house system administrator and in their case the boss is usually both the owner and the person that is going to build DIY web site), but about corporate clients that actually do waste both the time and money when they try to do things that are not their core business. And of course this is based on my own experience.

I do agree that enabling user to change the web site using some CMS is a good thing and all of my clients, (corporate, small business and individuals) always have that opportunity (although most of them choose to pay us for making changes).
However, I do not agree that having a professionally created web site (even if it is just a setup of Wordpress or any other template based CMS – OpenCart, Magento, Joomla, etc.) can be considered DIY web site.

View More

Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.