Manual Design Vs Site Builders

When people contact me for advice on a website, they have two main questions:

  1. How much does it cost to build a site?
  2. Should I hire a designer or build it myself?

These are logical things to ask. People are especially cautious about paying for intangible services – like website creation. You don’t see the end product, you can’t hold it in your hand, so you just don’t get the feeling that money is being used reasonably :).

So which route to go? It depends. There are many factors to consider, and here are the most critical ones:

1. Is your business profitable?

Unfortunately, most startups fail. So maybe a domain name ($10 per year) and site builder ($3-10/mo) are all you need to get to know the terrain. Only in case you have an established business with its unique position statement, branding and other essentials, it makes sense to hire a designer to help you bring your ideas to life.

2. What are your web design skills?

Unless you are going to build another Youtube or Twitter, or you have high-end custom needs, then website builders are fine. Most of these platforms are powered by drag-and-drop/WYSIWYG editors that require no programming experience to make things work. However, you should also realize that website creation (even if you choose the DIY approach) does require understanding basic usability principles and a knowledge of standard web applications. If you’re a pro, odds are you’ll find site builders boring (unless you’re using uCoz or any other site maker that allows to tweak CSS/HTML).

But if you’re a complete newbie, and have no idea about how sites are being designed and published, or such terms like domain name, hosting and SEO are Greek to you, you may need professional assistance.

3. Does your website require regular updates?

If you’re looking to build a stunning 5-page brochure-like website that won’t be updated on a regular basis, it makes sense to invest into a custom-designed website. You’ll pay once for the work and then will pay for hosting only.

However, if you plan to start a dynamic website supporting such capabilities as user management, shopping carts, surveys and so on, be ready to spend some extra dollars. In this very case, studying the CMS/site builder is the best option. Knowing how your site works will help you make updates quickly and efficiently, without having to call your designer/webmaster.

To Wrap It Up

For entrepreneurs, one of the hardest decisions is whether to ‘cheat’ (use an affordable site builder) or hire a web designer. As I see it, using a site builder to get your first business website online is a brilliant idea. By doing so, you will test the very idea for vitality and profitability without having to invest thousands of dollars into it. And only when you are ready (and if there’s such a need) it’s wise to take your flourishing business to new heights with a new, custom-built website created by a leading web design agency :).

Featured images:
  • License: Image author owned
  • License: Image author owned

Howard Steele is the owner of, a knowledge base for DIY website builders. He mostly spends his time reviewing various apps and building websites.

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