Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded with ads telling us we can build a website by just picking the right platform and dragging and dropping. The big players in the DIY website market —such as SquareSpace, GoDaddy, or Wix—spend huge amounts of money trying to convince consumers that their product guarantees a beautiful, successful website.

At Gravitate, we’ve been building sites for over 20 years, and we’ve seen it all. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of DIY site builders with more customers than we can count, and thought it might be helpful to share some of our talking points.

Let’s just address the elephant in the room. We’re not totally tone-deaf here and know this sounds pretty self-serving. Of course, a web design agency is going to say cheap DIY tools aren’t up to snuff. Take this with a grain of salt, if you must, but please know we’re truly trying to balance the scales against the marketing efforts of these big companies:

  • Squarespace spent North of 200 million on advertising last year.
  • GoDaddy made their name using, amongst other things, Super Bowl ads.
  • Wix increased its ad spend by 1,425% (!!!) in 2019, highlighted, again, by a Super Bowl ad.

Here are our top 5 reasons a DIY builder probably isn’t right for your business.

  1. Your website is your most important marketing tool
  2. Users expect more than ever before
  3. DIY websites are not better, they’re cheaper
  4. Crafting a successful site is harder than it looks
  5. Your site isn’t done at launch

1. Your website is your most important marketing tool.

Full stop.

It’s 2020, and more people will interact with your website than any person in your company. For many businesses, their website may be the first and only contact with a potential customer. Building trust, communicating your message, and crafting an effective user experience is paramount. If a user can’t figure out what you offer, verify if you are a legitimate business, or navigate through your purchase process, odds are they will move on. In the modern world, your digital storefront is now your main storefront, and your site is your 24/7/365 salesperson.

2. Users expect more than ever before

These days, having a decent looking website is table stakes.Standing out means more than just looking better, it means crafting a user-focused site that effectively tells your story, communicates your value, and positions your organization as the best option for your users. When you build a site that users want to interact with, you guide them down the path to conversion without them even realizing it. The amount of thought put into their experience will be evident, and reflect on the quality of your organization as a whole.
When all of your competitors have a decent looking site, you need to do better to stand out:

  • 67% of customers say they’ll pay more for a great experience, and 72% share those experiences with others
  • If your website and sales process aren’t user friendly, a customer is 4x more likely to buy from a competitor
  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience

3. DIY website aren’t better, they’re cheaper

Let’s be honest, the pitch for a DIY site isn’t that they’re the best solution, it’s that they’re fast and easy to use. The best outcome for most DIY sites is that they will look relatively professional and be an improvement on what you had previously.

The problem is “cheaper” is quite different from “less costly.” It’s easy to define your site budget, but it’s impossible to quantify the losses from customers who couldn’t find you in search, or got frustrated and left your site. The trends are clear, though — companies who invest in digital are more successful.

  • Digital-first companies are 64% more likely to exceed their business goals
  • Digitally mature companies are 26% more profitable than their less mature competitors
  • Taking a customer-centric approach to improving your digital ecosystem can generate 20 to 30% increased customer satisfaction,
  • 10-20% increased employee satisfaction, and economic gains of 20-50%

4. Crafting a successful site is harder than it looks

If building a great website was easy, digital agencies wouldn’t exist. Strategy, design, development, and content all play key roles in creating a successful digital experience.

You need to think about both desktop and mobile user experiences. Pages and content need to load in a timely manner. You may need to ensure your site is ADA compliant in order to serve all populations equally. Once your site is live, you need to drive traffic to it through SEO, paid ads, or a combination of both, and those tactics get more competitive every day.

Any agency worth its salt has a dedicated, experienced team that loves nothing more than crafting beautiful, effective websites. They consider your industry, goals, and users, and craft a unique approach to meet your goals. They plot a custom, thoughtful path to build out your digital ecosystem and communicate your message to the world.

Writing for the web is hard. It just is. It’s nothing like what you were taught in school, or do on a daily basis. Content tends to be the biggest sticking point in a website project, and ultimately makes-or-breaks a successful digital experience.

Hiring an agency to tackle the strategy, design, and development of your website frees you up to focus on content in a meaningful way. If content is completely out of your wheelhouse, many agencies will take on copywriting for your site—absorbing as much info as possible throughout the research and strategy phases, they will create content that connects with your audience and effectively communicates your message.

5. Your site isn’t done at launch

Launching your new site isn’t a touchdown, it’s the moment you step on the field. What you do with your site after launch is just as important, if not more important, than the process of building it.

At this point, you have to work with what you’ve got—adding content, optimizing for search, doing digital advertising, promoting your services via email, and, most importantly, tracking results, and making updates to your site based on that data.

This is where the rubber meets the road, and where many DIY sites often fall short. We’ve had plenty of customers come to us with their newly-minted site, asking for help with SEO or digital ads, and we have to (gingerly) explain to them why their site isn’t ready for that kind of ramp-up.

Simply put, driving more traffic to a site that isn’t ready to capitalize on it is a waste of your time and money.

DIR>DIY (doing it right is better than doing it yourself)

For most organizations, hiring an agency partner rather than going the DIY route to build your website is a decision you won’t regret. Your digital presence is more important now than ever before and can help or hinder your business depending on your approach. When you hire a team of professionals who spend a majority of their waking hours thinking about, crafting or improving digital experiences, you expand the potential of your business exponentially.