It seems like Do-it-Yourself companies are sprouting up overnight, with new creative names – and attractive ‘template’ based designs to choose from. These companies advertise the ‘easy way’ to get your idea online – and for the most part, they are right. You can have a website online in as little as ten minutes for most of the providers listed in this section.
Examples of companies that provide DIY solutions:
- GoDaddy Website Builder
The issues with DIY aren’t seen directly – as the presentation by their marketing teams are highly focused on the benefits, and gloss-over the negatives – coating them in candy, so that you see them as a positive. You don’t need to worry about purchasing a domain name! We’ve got you handled! So, easy! What they don’t mention – is that there are a variety of issues you could run across while using one of these providers, but I’ll go ahead and list some positives and negatives I’ve ran across during the last decade:
- POSITIVE Ownership – You are in control of your website, and don’t have to worry about what will happen to your data, pictures, writing, and in most cases – you have a (somewhat) easy to navigate portal to edit the website. You don’t have to worry about ownership much – because you are paying someone else to own it for you. They have to guarantee the website will be available 100% of the time, and you have the right to drop the website completely – and go with a different provider. For the most part – all you have to do, is worry about the price and length of contract. They will handle everything else for you!
- NEGATIVE Ownership – if you use one of the services above, make sure that you own the domain and content that you put on the website before you sign a contract. Future ‘you’ will be glad you asked, as you may develop a great website that is mobile-ready, responsive, full of fantastic content – and the provider will then hit you with a bill that is staggering to say the least. You grumble and complain, but the fact is – you don’t own the content on the website, so you have to pay the bill – or lose the content completely. They don’t mess around with this – as they have an army of lawyers that will show you exactly which part of the fine print specifies that they can do what they want. So, either you lawyer-up – or you submit your payment. Verify ownership of your content. A good way to go about owning your own content/website – is to use a service like WordPress.com – or focus on building your Facebook page. Although you still don’t ‘own’ your Facebook page, and have 100% less control over the visual design of the page – at least you have a network of individuals who can find your information – and a relatively easy interface to work with. WordPress on the other hand will give you the tools to create a website that can be run by a beginner or advanced user – allowing a multitude of plugins, options, security features and much more.
- POSITIVE/NEGATIVE Sales Service & Customer Service – the providers above do not specialize in customer service, but you’ll find that the sales staff is very well trained. They hook customers into long contracts, and then exploit those contracts when they want to. As far as customer service goes, they will point to different locations, send you tutorials, and lead you to ‘self-service’ portals – but the truth is, they just want you to continue paying for your service. If you stop paying, that means that you aren’t a customer any more – so they care even less. Additional options/features (contact forms, click-to-call, tracking/analytics) will also cost more than your basic package, which is already insignificant.
- POSITIVE Analytics – Many small businesses have no access to analytics, so the addition of analytics to your online venture is a tremendous advantage over your competition. Numbers included in even the most basic analytics metrics will include:
- Website Visitors
- Where Visitors came From
- What Page Visitors Landed On
- If Visitors came from Search Engines (organic), Direct (clicking a link), or Referral (from another source on the internet). You’ll see more information about these types of links later in the book.
- NEGATIVE Analytics – each of the options above will provide a fairly easy to use portal where you can see your ‘clicks’, ‘visitors’, ‘leads’, etc. But (and this is a BIG but) – they won’t give you specifics on where the information comes from, or even give you advice on how to capitalize on the values brought by the metrics. They will provide you with a phone number for ‘tracking purposes’ – but the fact is, they are in full control over the number – and all of the calls associated with the number itself. If you’re paying per caller, you need to start thinking about where the calls are from. If you’re paying because they show you have 80 clicks per month, start thinking about where those clicks are coming from as well. Be suspicious – as you can become dependent on numbers, especially when they are presented by a company who is defending themselves during a ‘contract resigning’ period.
- POSITIVE Contract – Having a contract doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hooked into a deal, and you should dread paying out for the next 6, 12, or 24 months. The contract itself can be a positive – as you can use it to leverage service for your business, especially in the beginning of the contract. Get what you want from the provider – and visit with your provider when you need additional services. If you want more images on the website (or foresee this being a recurring task in the future), make sure that frequent updates are included in the contract. In some instances, there could be a variety of bonuses when you resign with a provider – including discounted rates, services, and other perks.
- NEGATIVE Contract – Many of the providers are sustained by resigning contract holders to additional periods of time. If they have 10k contracts on the books, and 50% resign – they’ve made an additional 50% for the next year for no recordable work. When you negotiate a contract, do not sign unless there is a deliverable on the table – included in the print of the contract. If they do not meet that deliverable, you need a course of action – but most times, the provider will wait until the last possible moment to send the next contract, stating the urgency involved. “Resign by Jan 1 to avoid website shutdown”, which you receive one week prior to your website being flushed. You don’t have any time to come up with a plan, let alone actions to fulfill said plan. They have you on the ropes, and they know it. When you do sign a contract (with deliverables) set the expiration date in your calendar, with a couple months left over to contact them and ensure they are delivering on their promises.
- POSITIVE Overall – You have your own website, and although you might have to put some time aside to get it functioning, you have a lot of control over the message and branding of that website. Each and every bit of information, and the display of that information will have your personal stamp of approval.
- NEGATIVE Overall – Your website might not be 100% what you want (or need), so you’ll always have to think about the success of the website. If you have any changes or alterations/updates that need to be done – you should do them yourself. If you have a member of your office that is a little tech-savvy, you might be able to delegate the task – but you are distancing yourself from the reason why you built the website yourself in the first place, which was to either save money – or have more personal input into the design.
So, after all the POSITIVE & NEGATIVE comments that I’ve gathered together – you should ask yourself which option makes the most sense with your desired outcome.