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.