When should you graduate from a template website to a custom build?

Is it time to give up your DIY website and get one custom built?

If you’re running a small business, it’s often essential to have your own website. And although most people don’t have the necessary skills to design and build one from scratch, thanks to template website platforms out there like Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy, it’s never been easier to set one up yourself.

But can a do-it-yourself website carry your business all the way? Or is there a point at which you need to think about upgrading to a custom-built one? 

Why DIY websites can be great for new businesses

Part of the fun of setting up a new business (and it IS fun) is creating a look and feel for what you will be doing. In other words: building your brand. This doesn’t just mean coming up with a funky name and getting your arty friend to draw up a logo, but creating your very own digital home in the form of a website. 

Having an online presence is essential for almost all businesses. So it’s natural to want to get something up on the internet from the word go. And with your marketing budget probably being tight, the smart thing will be to do as much as possible yourself. 

Thankfully, there are now a whole host of fantastic website-building platforms out there to help you get started. Most have a wide variety of pre-built templates to choose from, all aspects of which you can then edit to suit your particular needs. Best of all, is that you can usually start building for free – as long as you’re okay with a little advertising on your website and a non-user-friendly web address. 

But they are not without their hassles

Of course, if you want to look professional then you’ll need to get rid of that advertising, which means paying a regular fee to the website provider. You’ll also need to buy a domain name (which you’ll renew every year) and fiddle about in the back end of the settings to link it to your site, if you purchased it elsewhere. 

All of which sounds okay, until you realise that perhaps you’re paying way too much for hosting and it’s eating into your bottom line. Or you start receiving phone calls from the website provider hassling you about the monthly fee, wanting you to upgrade your package. Or you find out that the email package you need to purchase with the website hosting is far cheaper elsewhere (with more mailboxes), but it’s too much of a hassle to try and link the two together. Or you decide you want to change providers, only to find the old company trying to charge you an extortionate fee for the privilege of doing so.  

Getting a website that works for you

The problem with DIY websites isn’t that they don’t work. They do, pretty well, most of the time. Especially for those new or small businesses that need a new website quickly and relatively cheaply. 

But more often than not those costs can begin to bite later on. Plus you often have less control than you thought: stuck with limited templates, incredibly basic SEO wizards that do very little to get you seen (unless you fork out even more money for a separate, heightened service), and a simplified content management system that’s had little thought to evolving user experience and thus restricts what you can do beyond building that first website. Meaning that, pretty soon, your DIY site could hinder—rather than help—your business as it grows.

To give you an example…

Don’t believe us? Take the example of a current client of ours (the wonderful Tom Regan at HDTV entertainment who had built his own e-commerce website with one such provider. Only to find that he was losing a lot of money, and frustrating a significant amount of customers, because his DIY website was incapable of taking more than one order at a time. 

By upgrading to a custom-built website, Tom was able to request a site tailored specifically to his business. Which meant getting a website that delivered everything his customers wanted—including accepting multiple orders. And it paid off, because after the new site went live, within the first 12 hours there were 50 plus orders, 80% of which had 2-3 items per order. If that isn’t a quick and significant return on investment, we don’t know what is. 

Is it time for you to graduate to a custom-built website?

If you’re a small business with a DIY website, chances are you’ll have experienced at least one of the problems mentioned above. Which means it could be time to take your website to the next step. 

Getting a website custom made might seem daunting, but if you talk to the right people you’ll be in good hands. This means finding a web designer or agency with experience, someone who knows what questions to ask to discover what your website needs to be delivering your customers. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive either. In fact, compared to the significant ongoing monthly fee of a DIY platform, a one-off website build (usually with a tiny annual hosting fee)—delivering exactly the website your business needs, without any frustrating or costly limitations—will almost always work out cheaper in the long run.

And, more importantly, it will help give your business the room and impetus it needs to grow.

Is your do-it-yourself website hampering your business? Want to see what’s possible with a custom-built site?

 

Andy Goddard
andy@cravedigital.co.uk
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