Now that you’ve developed a digital strategy, and determined that you need a new/updated website, the first decision you need to make is to build or buy. There are a lot of options available to you, making this first decision more difficult than it might seem. Here are some pros and cons of each path for you to consider.
In the buy category are options like buying a template or subscribing to a website building tool such as Square Space or Wix. These options have become much more sophisticated in the past few years, and even organizations with sophisticated requirements might want to consider them.
Using a template or builder, you can have a site live today! So long as you have a credit card ready and you find a template that meets your needs, you can literally be up and running in a few minutes.
2: Lower Upfront Costs
In the long run, subscriptions services might cost more, but the upfront, out-of-pocket costs will likely be much less. This can be beneficial from a cash flow point of view.
3: All in one
Website builders often include integrated hosting and domain registration. This means that all the services needed for your website are in one account.
Without serious coding knowledge, it can be difficult to make changes to templates beyond changing colours and content, especially with WordPress Templates.
2: Not Unique
The best templates, that is the ones you probably want to use, are used by many, sometimes millions, of people. That means there are likely many websites that will look just like yours.
3: Lack of Control
The flip side of all in one service is that you don’t have granular control over the services. You won’t be able to tweak server or DNS settings, and if the service ever goes out of business, you may be vulnerable to losing your site or settings.
4: Time Consuming
Even if you find a template that you like and meets your needs, it may still require a lot of effort getting your content into the site. And if you need to change the template, even seemingly small changes can take quite a lot of time to get just right.
Because the builder services and templates are trying to accommodate as many different people as possible, there can be a bit of a “kitchen sink” philosophy for the feature list. This can have a negative impact on performance.
This option includes building your own or hiring an designer/agency to handle the website.
1: No Tech Skills Required (If you hire an agency).
2: Get Exactly What you Need
If you have an appropriate budget for your project, you can get precisely what you want and need. You will not be constrained by a template, or feature set of a site builder.
3: Ownership and Control
When you have your own site build, it’s like owning a house vs. renting an apartment. You have total ownership and control over the end result.
This is a “you get what you pay for” situation. A cheap template (or designer) is not likely to produce a top notch product.
When building a tailored and custom product, you’ll only add the features you need, and you can tweak small details for optimum performance.
Hiring an agency might be more expensive than a template or builder, but maybe not. Assuming you will be updating your site.
Depending on the complexity of the site you need, the process of working with an agency to build a new site can take a long time.
The flip side to ownership and control is responsibility. Depending on your your arrangement with the design agency, and the details of your hosting setup, you might be responsible for maintaining your site, and ensuring it is up and running at all times.
It’s important to remember that the best website isn’t necessarily the most expensive, the cheapest, or the prettiest. The best website is the one that works for you, suits your brand, and meets your business requirements. Consider your options carefully before you start, and you have much better chance of getting what you need.