Website builder technology has come a long way in the past few years. The templates available from a lot of providers can really look professional. If you are a small business owner and have a good grasp of computers and software, and a good eye for style and visual design, by all means, go for it! It is possible that the end result will be a good looking website that also serves your business goals. There are some potential pitfalls though, and avoiding them will go a long way towards the success of your new website.
Mistake 1: Putting design first and content second
If you aren’t a designer, it will be very difficult for you to come up with a design from scratch that looks half-way professional. So you will need to choose a template. Most website builders will have picking the template as the first step. The next step is plugging in content to their placeholders, and you’re done.
The problem with doing that is you are basically letting the template designer dictate what content your site should include. Big mistake. Before you even look at a website builder, you need to determine what content your website will include based on your customers’ needs and your business goals. Once you have that defined, THEN go and look for a template that will fit your content.
Mistake 2: Picking the wrong template
So you have an idea about what content your website will include, and you have selected a template that you think will accommodate that content. Will it really? Most modern templates are heavy with high quality images, because that is the best way to make a design attractive. Will you be able to include as many images at as high a quality as the template does? If so, great! If not, it won’t look as good.
Will your website include a significant amount of paragraph text? Make sure the template you choose does as well, or the typography that works with the sparse placeholder text may not work at all for your content.
Mistake 3: Underestimating the time it will take to create the site
Web design is a very detailed and technical process. A web designer who knows how to code can make global changes very quickly. As a non-designer you will likely be using a drag and drop interface, and making changes one at a time. This can be very time consuming and frustrating, depending on which website builder you choose. Customer support will be able to help with technical issues, but they won’t do the work for you, nor will they help with design questions like “Why doesn’t my site look as good as the template.”
Mistake 4: Not being a “computer person,” but still trying to create a website
Website builders may be “easy” but if you have trouble using a computer and common computer software in your day to day tasks, you are going to have a lot of trouble with the website builder. It’s going to be much harder than using MS Word or an email client, so if you struggle with those, it’s best to leave the website to someone who is more “tech saavy.”
Mistake 5: Forgetting about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
So you have a good looking website that communicates exactly what you want it to, with all the functionality that your customers and potential customers will be expecting. But, how will potential customers find your brand new website? Time to call an SEO company!
Well, unfortunately it might be too late for that. Creating a website that is optimized for search engines, so your site will rank above your competitors in key searches, usually requires having SEO built into the website from the ground up. As a professional web designer and SEO, I’ve been asked many times to slap some “SEO magic” onto an existing website so it can start getting some traffic. Unfortunately in most cases, properly optimizing a website like that will require a partial, if not a full redesign. If SEO is not built into the website architecture and content, there is often no easy fix after the fact.
I hope this article helped highlight some of the potential pitfalls that you, as a business owner or manager, may face when trying to build your own website.
Questions? Please post in the comments and I will be happy to answer them!