What to Expect: Building Your Own Website

As a web design agency, we'd love to tell you that hiring a professional designer is the only way to go when it comes to creating a website. The truth is, hiring a pro is not for everyone. Just like a do-it-yourself (DIY) home remodeling project isn't for everyone, if you have the time, energy, and a little know-how, it may be possible to tackle the job — though it may not be entirely enjoyable or even worth the time needed to make it happen.

With the rise of templated website builders (such as Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, WordPress, and Shopify) we have seen the task of creating a simple website become much less complicated than it was just a few years ago. And if your website needs are relatively basic, you may be able to build your site using one of these design platforms.

As with many do-it-yourself tasks, you may end up asking yourself if the ‘nailed it’ version of a DIY website is an outcome that you want as the brand for your business.

Cost Creep

What will it cost to take the homegrown approach?

Generally speaking, the average tech-savvy DIYer can get their chosen website domain URL for as little as $2/year with website hosting fees running as little as $2.99/month — practically a steal at the listed prices! But DIY isn’t as cheap as it may first appear. It’s important to note that this monthly price can quickly creep up when opting for custom themes, templates, extensions, advanced functionality options, and additional tools (especially for eCommerce options). Website cost creep is always lurking in the background, and the long-term cost of a DIY website can easily run much higher than anticipated.

This can take more of an emotional and psychological cost, rather than bearing the brunt of a monetary impact. The marketing of DIY websites are not unlike that of companies like AT&T or T-Mobile. When you're purchasing a mobile phone and adding services it may appear less expensive because you’re only seeing the short-term expenses broken out into easy-to-digest monthly payments. In reality, you’d be paying a good deal more by taking on those monthly payments over the life of the contract than had you purchased the device outright.

According to WebFX, a DIY site with all the bells and whistles can total several hundred dollars per month. As such, it may be a more affordable long-term decision to start with a professionally-designed custom site, where ongoing fees, based on the cost of the users’ domain name and hosting, tend to hover (and stay at) around $15/month.

The cost difference is that professionals offer everything with slightly higher upfront cost and low, long-term expenses.

Quick Tip: Don’t get confused - domain names and website hosting are two separate parts of building your website. In much the same manner as a brick-and-mortar business needs a company name to advertise and a building to sell their wares, websites function on a similar principle. They only function properly with a company name (“domain name”) and a building to sell wares from (“website hosting”).

Your Most Precious Asset

While building and designing a website often comes with a learning curve and understanding how to use even the simplest of website builders takes time, as does troubleshooting technical problems, inputting content, and so on. This can, and usually does prove costly in terms of sweat equity. This can be a good learning experience in terms of understanding, even from a base level, what it it takes to create a website.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, time is your most precious asset. And if you have more of it than budget and your business is able to get away with a templated site, then the DIY approach might make the most sense.

Stock Templates

An under-recognized challenge with this methodology is the selection of templated designs. With the DIY approach, you can have your pick of the litter when it comes to free website layouts often offering minimal drag-and-drop interface customization. But highly likely that your selection will be a cookie-cutter template with limited options for truly fine-tuning the layout and strategy of your web presence. Even worse, many of the same basic, no-frills, templates can be found on nearly every pre-packaged website platform.

While this is never an ideal solution for any business over the long term, it can still be the best option when you are just getting started and in most cases having something up and running is better than nothing, or worse, the dreaded fear of going live (but that’s for another article).

Consumer Friendliness

Before taking the DIY route, consider how you’d like to utilize your website after it’s built: Are you selling products, do you need user accounts, are you hosting a contest with online entries, will you need to upload and store videos or specialized content on a secure server, will you be serving hundreds of thousands of users simultaneously?

It’s not unheard of to lose your business over a poorly planned website, especially if it has a bad user experience, is less than professional, or has a poor path to purchase — if it is not designed to be your primary storefront — you could be setting yourself up for failure.

Shopping on A Budget

When all is said and done, your budget is often the most critical limitation. Here’s a quick breakdown of how your budget can alter your website design decision. Take a look at our article " How Much Does a Website Cost " for additional details.

The Beginner ($0 - $1,000)

For a relatively new business or one that is simply testing the market, a DIY site could be a great fit. When trying to get a new business venture off the ground, an award-winning website may not necessarily be mission-critical. Based on your company goals a DIY website may simply be a means to alert potential clients and customers that the is business is legitimate and is taking steps to interact with a target audience. Once the business becomes revenue positive, you can always revisit and use your profits to hire a professional to build you a site that sets you apart from the competition.

The Budgeteer ($2,500 - $7,000)

If your budget is between $2,500 - $7,000, DIY or semi-custom platform site is essentially your only option. The exception to this would be a business that only needs a small number of pages with limited content control and even more limited features. While you may be able to find a freelance designer, a college kid dabbling in web design, or even a tech-savvy cousin to do it for a low fee, $5,000 tends to be the bare minimum for most professional web designers. This seemingly-extravagant sum is necessary to cover overhead costs, design time, software and platform fees, and time spent customizing the site.

The Professional ($8,000 - $15,000+)

Spending between $8,000 - $15,000+ is where you’re going to start seeing the bells and whistles you’ve been looking for come to fruition. This includes professional customized e-commerce solutions, client/customer profile pages, client/customer accounts, customer/admin content management — the sky's the limit. You’ll also gain access to cutting-edge design creatives who will listen to your unique needs and desires and create a customized and personalized website.

Need A Little More Information?

All of these prices are very rough ballpark guesses, and every website is different – you can't really know how much a site costs until you've given someone all the details they need for an accurate quote. If you would like to go over the costs and details covered in this article, give us a shout and let's see what we can do for you .

Davis James
Davis James
Guest Author

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