Quite often I come across the age old question of people asking me how easy is it to set up their own website, what is the best service to use and how much would I do it for as an absolute budget. I concluded that I should write this article now about the difference between building your own site, having a freelancer, or getting a design firm to do it for you.
Doing it yourself as a novice
There seems to be so many options now with ‘easy to create and simple to use’ websites. Be it Wix or Squarespace, be aware that these are companies with a business model and it seems too good to be true, they will get you with paid services somewhere along the line. These website builder services do provide very easy to use tools to the extent that you won’t be able to customise them however as that is part of the package. Much like your Facebook account, you are very limited as to how you want it styled and don’t be fooled by the offering of a few templates. In the end, they will all be very safe to use and for many users, this is all they need.
These sites serve a purpose to an audience that have no desire to actually design or code and just want the finished article quickly and effortlessly. I respect that in the right circumstances.
WordPress pretty much has won the internet over. Places like ThemeForest and Elegant Themes provide an infinite resource of templates for the end user. WordPress is a little cumbersome to install, replicate and setup as it requires databases so it doesn’t have a HTML structure. The power of WordPress themes come in here however as most Themes will come in with more resources, modals, scripts and plugins saving you the time and effort of having to research them. Installing a template to WordPress also means you get a fully formed site almost instantly.
The big downside to this is often a lot of clutter code and unused plugins that will weigh down your site. Additionally, not building it from scratch can sometimes lead to some confusing elements in the page that are hard to edit.
Custom websites basically refers to the entire site being pretty bespoke, in layout and/or features. Custom Design in WordPress often means the designer/developer will need a good understanding of how best to use plugins and to have a good understanding of what the customers end product will be.
Custom design of course doesn’t mean you need WordPress but it almost always takes a lot longer to build due to the nature of creating bespoke elements. If you were to opt for a custom design, you should have a very good idea how it will look and function before it begins.
Doing it yourself is a great cost effective solution. It can be quite a large learning curve for some and its often a test of your patience with design and coding skills.
I think hiring a freelancer is a great way to get the product you are after for any small to medium sized projects. I personally (as a freelancer) like starting off sites with a template and then altering it to fit the design that has been put forward.
If the project is really large, has a massive budget or needs several teams involved then it’s a no brainer that a design firm will need to be involved.