Everyone at Bombastic is a huge fan of DIY culture. From furniture to stocking the pantry to homemade musical instruments, each of us loves to create. However, when we meet a new client who has been convinced to DIY something as technical – and important – as their organization’s website, our heart breaks a little bit. Despite what you might see on YouTube tutorials, or hear on web platform commercials, web design is a complex mix of programming and art that is hard to just whip up in a few hours.
Over the last 9 months, we’ve seen an increase in clients who search us out after trying to make their own website. Usually, they are new business owners who try to make the most of their startup budget. They always start out with the best intentions. Invariably, the project stumbles, after they’ve invested weeks and sometimes months. That’s when we get the phone call, and that’s when we sit down with them to explain that there are cost-effective ways to launch a new website that is polished, professional, and most importantly – actually works.
So before you’re tempted to crack open your laptop and start up a new website for your organization, take a minute to read about the pitfalls of doing it yourself.
A little polish to www.rooterpal.com went a long way.
You can’t avoid code.
If you are thinking that creating a website is as easy as working in Microsoft Word or whipping up a PowerPoint, think again. Websites are files of code that are viewed on various computing devices, all transmitted via different networks. There are constraints and variables that you cannot escape, and that makes it so much more complex than you think.
An example: that photo that you need to post. Do you know what resolution it was saved at? Do you know how long it will take to download on a desktop monitor versus a smartphone? Is it easy to view on a small screen, or fuzzy on a large one? Do you have the right to post it?
Not all website platforms are made the same.
There are several dozen website builder platform options on the market, and more are added every year (even MailChimp is in the game…). However, it’s not always easy to tell the pros and cons of each platform.
- How much control do you have over the design of the website? Having a lot of control might seem like a good idea, when you want to customize the colors and fonts. But it’s easy to get a random, messy look that is difficult for users to navigate through.
- Does the platform provide automatic security updates? That simple, open-source platform might seem like a good way to save money. However, when you miss three security patches over the next nine months and your website is filled with malware, you might regret your choice.
- Is the website platform designed to grow with you? You might not need demonstration videos for another year or so. Or you might think it’s easy to add automatic event RSVPs later. But without understanding the fundamental capabilities of the underlying programming code, your website could be obsolete before you know it.
Website design and navigation is an art, and a science.
Designing a website that looks great on hundreds of different types of devices takes a keen understanding of how websites are coded to automatically resize (this is the world of responsive web design). Some fonts, some images, and some blocks of text do not resize well. This can frustrate those web users you are trying to interact with, and cause them to flee.
Speaking of web users, creating the layout of a website to be appealing to different types of brains is not intuitive. It’s proven that if you are not equipped with a familiarity of the neuroscience behind user interfaces and navigation, the resulting website will have very steep abandonment rates.
You have under two seconds to grab a user’s attention before they click away. Is your branding designed to work well on digital devices? That logo that was created for your delivery van might look jumbled in the tiny corner of a smart phone. And all those yellow graphics? Most computer screens don’t display yellow well, and it’s been proven to turn users away.
You are starting up a new business, do you really have the time to learn a complicated new skill?
Teaching yourself as you go will triple the time it takes the website to be completed. Think of all the tasks that are involved in pulling website content together. Writing appealing text, selecting and editing photos, creating graphics that match your branding (from simple icons to lovely infographics), loading the information, organizing the navigation structure, testing on a multitude of devices, migrating the website to the live domain name.
You do what you’re an expert at, and we’ll do what we’re experts at. It will take us a fraction of the time, and you’ll get back to practicing your own craft.
The good news: we have worked with dozens and dozens of clients with the same challenges that you face. We work with all kinds of organizations, from non-profits to start-ups, to established family businesses. Our customized approach has supported each client, and helped them build the website they need. Because we customize each job, we work with our clients to help them meet their budget, and their goals, so that we can support them for the long haul.