Should I build my website myself or pay someone to do it for me?

David Head
·
3
min read
“Should I build my own website? Or should I hire someone to do it for me?”

These are common questions people ask themselves when they’re building their online presence.

The decision is tough and unique to everyone. You may be an entrepreneur launching your business online and you need to save every penny to reinvest. Or you could be launching a blog to share your reviews of your favorite movies. Or maybe building an online home for your community.

In any of these situations, there are dozens of do it yourself (DIY) website builders to choose from. Squarespace, Webflow, Bubble, Wix, Weebly, Square, Shopify, Wordpress, Leadpages. There are dozens more.

The purpose of this article is to help you decide whether to do it yourself or pay someone. We’ll call it “build vs buy.” I’ll use Squarespace as the example DIY site builder, since I believe it’s one of the best choices for most of the types of users I mentioned. Regardless of whether you build or buy, we’ll assume it will be a Squarespace site.

The fundamental questions you need to ask yourself are “What’s my time worth?” and “What’s my maintenance plan?”

Here are two examples of thinking through “What’s my time worth?”

Scenario 1: Buy

You’re a lawyer needing a website for your independent firm. Your website has a clear ROI. Therefore, you should invest a few thousand dollars for a designer to build you a site with a personalized template. A unique look stands out compared to the competition. You have a premium business where clients are spending a lot of money. You want to make sure your website looks more polished and unique than your average DIY website. (Here are some Squarespace website examples searchable by industry. You could build this design on any of the platforms I listed above as well.)

This budget can be rationalized from an opportunity cost perspective as well. As a professional with an advanced degree, your billable hourly rate is multiples more than even the high-end web designers. If you built the site yourself, you’ll be 10–40x slower than the designer. You’re better off finding a web designer you trust and generating ROI from your trade. [1] Trust me on this.[2] (Here’s a tool to help you find the right Squarespace designer that my company built.)

When it comes to maintenance, since your site is built on a DIY website builder like Squarespace, you’ll be easily able to perform basic edits to the text of the web page and shift out images. Most designers will give you a free tutorial once they’ve built it.

Scenario 2: Build

You want to start blogging as a hobby. You should build the most rudimentary site possible. Don’t focus on the design, focus on blogging. You can get a Squarespace website live in under one hour with a built-in blog template. Or you can just skip the design and setup completely and create a Medium account.

After 4 years as a professional designer myself, I’ve seen over a hundred bloggers get caught up in the design of their website before writing articles.

The articles should come first. Once you have a few articles published, maybe you spend a few hours on the weekends watching tutorial videos on how to build a Squarespace site and seeing what you can do yourself. This is a hobby and you’re doing it to get enjoyment for yourself! Don’t take the design too seriously.

For blogs, design quality is almost irrelevant. People come to read your writing, and your writing isn’t made better from design. In fact, I’d argue that too much design is counterproductive for a blog. Squarespace templates definitely push into the “too much design” category (although this isn’t a deal breaker, by any stretch).

To illustrate with some examples, look at most news articles — they’re mostly text. Any design they do is to optimize the website for advertisements. Look at Wikipedia (not a blog, but a site built around text-driven content). Look at the blog Wait But Why.

Wait But Why was created by just two guys. It’s one of the most popular if not the most popular, most popular high-brow blog amongst the tech community and many others. The articles are world class, and that’s why it has a subscriber base of nearly 700,000 people (as of Sept. ’18) consuming blog posts that are 5–20x longer than average.[3] Elon Musk is a regular reader. The design looks like “I put this together one night and haven’t prioritized upgrading it.” It’s probably because that’s exactly what happened! People come for the writing not the design.

I’ll reiterate by saying any design you want to have on your blog website should be approached purely for your enjoyment.

As far as maintenance, you should be able to pick up editing Squarespace text and adding images. If you need a basic tutorial, I recommend these videos (official Squarespace videos).

Parting words

I hope this was helpful!

If the two scenarios I outlined don’t give you enough insight into your situation, leave a comment below asking for advice and I’ll respond. I’m happy to detail out as many scenarios as is helpful for people. Furthermore, our friends at Fit Small Business have put together a detailed breakdown of how much a website costs that you may want to check out as well.

Similarly, I have strong opinions on ways to approach websites from years in the business helping thousands of clients get websites built. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. That said, it’s a near certainty some of what I’m saying may not apply in some scenarios. If you disagree with anything or want to challenge it, please comment below. I’ll be continuously updating this resource so your feedback may help me amend it.

[1] If you need help finding one you trust, email me at [email protected]and I’ll introduce you. Introducing clients to the right designers for them is what my company, Sixty, does. To date, we’ve helped thousands of people hire web designers.

[2] I became a web designer because I spent hundreds of hours trying to build an e-commerce site for my first business. I built the site three times across three different web builders.

[3] 72% of WBW’s traffic is from people sharing it on Facebook. Surprisingly, only 10% comes from Google (he calls those who come from Google “flies who end up bumping into the site”). This is pretty counter intuitive for most bloggers who think it’s all about SEO. The moral of the story is write great content and share it with online communities who would be interested. If the content is truly great, people will share it.

https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/11/where-wait-but-why-gets-traffic.html

David Head

David Head is a cofounder of Sixty. He started his career as an ecommerce business owner. After experiencing the difficulties of building a quality website, he started freelance web designing, which turned into founding a web agency. Sixty is a product of being in the client, freelancer, and agency's shoes. Sixty's purpose is to make freelance careers more stable and prosperous and client projects more efficient and successful.

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