Why you should NEVER, EVER design your own website

We have been building websites since 1998, and we’ve seen it all. Here we will share what we have learned, and give examples of what happens when people do bad things with their website.

“I know a guy who can build my website for me!”

Probably the worst thing you could ever do with your website. Would you let a house painter work on your plumbing? Would you let the guy at Radio Shack give you a medical checkup? Then why would you let someone unqualified build a website for your business?

If you want to attract new customers, you need to be on search engines like Google. Code has to be installed in the back end of your website to tell Google what search terms to use in listing your site. There are things like keyword density, meta descriptions, sitemaps, backlinks and more that have to be considered. A website built by an amateur might look great (probably not, but more on that below) but it’s like getting all dressed up, then staying at home. Nobody will see you. And you’ll never know, because that amateur probably doesn’t know how to set you up with Google Analytics, so you can follow your website’s visits and other statistics.

And besides search engine optimization, does the guy you know have the knowledge to build a website you can edit whenever you want? Does he know how to set up forms, so people can contact each other, when an email isn’t enough? Does he know how to embed a Google Calendar, so people can keep up with your upcoming events?

And how will your new website look on a mobile phone? Mobile devices now represent one half of all internet traffic. Plus, now Google will penalize your site if it doesn’t pass the Google Mobile Test. Where does that leave you?

“I only need a Facebook page”

Put simply, no, that would be crazy. And here are some reasons why:

  • You do not own your Facebook page. If Facebook goes down, you go down with it. If Facebook cancels your account, or changes the rules, you suffer.
  • Facebook isn’t an effective way to be found in search engines. Google uses the existence of a Facebook page to raise the ranking of your business website, not the other way around.
  • Facebook “business” pages offer fewer features than personal pages. And if you try to use your personal page for your business, Facebook can delete your account.
  • The most important reason; it’s not professional. If you don’t have a “real” website, you will not be seen as committed to your business’ online presence.

“My old website looks great!”

Most likely not. If your website is old, it might look great to you, on your own computer. But there are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and lots of other browsers out there, not even counting Macs, smart phones and tablets. Browsers sometimes see websites very differently, especially older websites that were built before new versions of browsers came out. Everything about websites has changed in the past couple of years. Websites today are wider, to look better on the newer widescreen flat panel monitors. They use bigger graphics, because internet access is much faster now. Google has changed the way it ranks websites completely over the past year.

“What do you mean, my website looks terrible on a mobile phone?”

Older websites, (and yes, websites designed by amateurs) generally perform very badly on mobile phones. Older websites often use Flash for graphics, and sometimes their navigation buttons are done with Flash. Those websites will look terrible on a mobile phone, because many of them can’t see Flash. And if your navigation menu is done in Flash, people won’t even be able to go to the other pages of your site. your menus are invisible.

A good web designer knows how to put code in the back end of your site to help mobile phones “see” your site in the best way possible. And nothing in the world can make an old website look good on a mobile phone.

“What about those free websites from GoDaddy and web.com?”

Many of the same problems exist here, in addition to a very basic math issue. If you end up with a do it yourself site from one of those “free” offers, you will have many of the same problems listed above: You have no professional knowledge about search engine optimization, no experience at writing concise, compelling copy, and no resources for professional graphics. So right away, your home made website cannot compete with professional website in your field of business.

Those “free” sites usually end up costing around $30 per month once the “free” period is over. Do the math. If you keep this website for two years, that’s a total of $720. $720 for a website that is admittedly not up to the standards of your competition using professional websites. PLUS, if you stop making payments, your website goes away, and in some cases you lose your domain name. But that $720 will get you a budget website from Richmond Media that is yours forever. You have the ability to edit the content, add new pages and everything else.

One last thing about those “free” websites: In all of the years we have been designing websites, we cannot remember EVER seeing a web,com or a GoDaddy do it yourself site showing up in a Google search.