DIY Websites – How to make them work and why I’ll never do one again.
It may surprise you to know that I actually have quite a lot of experience using Do It Yourself website builders. For many years before we set up Coastal VAs I used website builders to make sites for my husband and for friends. Recently I have used Homestead, Flavors.me, SquareSpace and Wix. In the very early days I even wrote HTML code and played with DreamWeaver.
My top tips for using a website builder:
- Find out what builders are available and what people are saying about them. Find a current article or review on website builders (e.g. The Top 10 Website Builders of 2013) This will give you a good idea of what tools are available and what people think of them.
- Take the time to find a template you like. Put in time before you start looking at all the templates. Once you start building the site, it is difficult or impossible to change the template, so you need to know you will be happy with the template you choose. Imagine your content (words and images) and how it will fit within your chosen template.
- Don’t fight the template. It can be tempting to think you can just move this bit or change that bit of a template to make it what you want. In my experience this leads down a long and frustrating road. Don’t fight the template and you will have an easier ride.
- Prepare your content before you start. As with decorating, preparation is everything. Write up your content, find your images, track down your links. If you can start with everything to hand, your site building will go much more smoothly.
- Use the “Help” section. There is usually a lot of good information in the Help section of website builders. Search on your topic and/or look at the getting started guidance provided.
So, with all my experience of using different website builders, why will I never do a DIY site again?
- Quality – I found the sites I built just didn’t look as good as I wanted.
- Time – Building a DIY site takes a lot of time and I am no longer willing to put in those kind of hours for an average result.
- Cost – The best builders charge a monthly fee, which can seem low at first, but it does add up over time. Investing up front in a designed website can make better financial sense.
Having said all that, I can still see the value in DIY website builders. They can be a very cost effective way of getting your foot on the online ladder. Although I would always suggest you consider starting with your social media as we outlined in Online Presence “Light”.
However, if you have good content, images and a bit of a design eye, you can get some good results. And, if in the future you are ready to move on from a DIY site, give us a call 😉