Why a DIY or Cookie Cutter Website Spells F A I L U R E for Your Business

If you’ve been thinking about getting a website for your business, or redesigning the one you already have, you may have already looked into one of the many DIY website services available out there. There are too many to name and their advertisements all make it sound so easy – click here, click there, BAM, a new website that’s as good as any professional site. Right?

Not likely.

While these types of services do have their place for some entrepreneurs, chances are that you are not one of those. If it works for you, great, but it’s not your best option.

Figure out what makes you different so you can stand out from the crowd.

How can you expect to set yourself, and your business, apart from your competitors, if your website is a cookie cutter template that thousands of others also have?

Why Settle?

One of the first rules of marketing is that you need to stand out from your competition, be different, set yourself apart. Think about it.

With all the pre-built website services, you are limited to their templates; templates that potentially thousands of other people are also using. While you may have a few options as far as fonts and colors, you lack total control of your own website. For your visitor, the inability to tell your website apart from thousands of others is boring and you risk them bouncing away with the feeling that they have already been on your website whether they have or not.

With any other DIY site, or worse – a free site such as those from Google or Yahoo – not only are you limiting yourself with their available options, but you’re also limiting yourself to you own knowledge of design principles, and website layout for the best conversion. Chances are those are not your areas of expertise, or you’d be making a living doing that instead of whatever it is you’re actually doing.

With a professionally designed website, there are very few limitations to what you can do. If you find a designer who can utilize 3rd party plug-ins and scripts, and is fluent in CSS (cascading style sheets), they can customize your site right down to every little pixel, making your site uniquely yours alone.

Conversion vs. Bounce Rate

While some of the pre-designed sites might look nice at first glance, they may not function as well as a custom designed, professional site. For most of us, it’s all about conversion, and how many visitors to our site actually click through to another page, or better yet, contact us to do business!

There is a definite method to the website-layout madness,  in order to keep people on your site and compel them to click through, and this can often vary by industry and audience. Cookie cutter sites are…you guessed it…all the same, therefore not designed with your specific business and your specific audience in mind. If your site doesn’t draw your visitor in and they leave after visiting only one page (this is called bouncing), your DIY website that you built to save money, just cost you even more money.

There are numerous elements of a website that work together to keep visitors on your site, and a pleasing, original design is just one of them.

Plan for the Future

While your pre-designed website may suit your needs at the moment, does it allow you to grow and expand with your business? Do you have the ability to add new technologies as they become available, or are you at the mercy of the website service that you’re using?

A professional designer will know how to plan out your website to allow for updates and improvements all the while maintaining the originality and uniqueness of your website.

Control Your Online Image

I say this all the time, but it’s SO true…

Perception is Everything

One of the things I see the most in my freelance web design business is business owners who don’t understand how important a website is to their image, not to mention their marketing plan. A website is undoubtedly your most important marketing tool. Cutting corners here could potentially be cutting a big chunk of change out of your wallet, as your visitors might wonder where else you cut corners in your business.

People want to know that they’re dealing with a professional. It gives them confidence to do business with you. If they visit your website and are greeted with a less than professional page, or a page that looks strangely like another site they were just on, their confidence may waiver and they’ll look elsewhere to find what they need.

While you may be perfectly capable of creating an acceptable website and saving some money, is acceptable good enough? In the end, will you really be saving money if it’s costing you customers?

Collaborate with a Professional

Ask around your network for referrals to good designer/developers that you can connect with and reach out. Talk to several and find one that suits your style and your personality. Consider your customers that you like to do business with, and try not to make it about the money, but about the value and long-term support that you’ll receive from a reputable designer. Remember…this is your number 1 marketing tool, so use it as best you can.

seo_horse_reflectionDid I mention SEO?

Last, but certainly not least, cookie cutter sites often don’t allow for much in the way of Search Engine Optimization. Of course your content will determine much of your SEO success, but there are other factors such as page load time, meta page titles & descriptions, using keywords in your content, responsive design, XML sitemaps and much, much more.

Not having these elements on the back end of your website could potentially hurt your organic SEO and not return your site in random search results. What this means is that people can’t find you easily, and of course that translates into less money in your pocket. Again, can you afford this?

Consider the Return on Your Investment

While you could spend a sizable chunk of change on a professionally designed website, consider how quickly that investment will pay off in new customers that you might not see with a pre-designed or site that you built yourself. As an entrepreneur, you want to give your business the best possible chance to succeed and that should include your website design and development. Do yourself a huge favor, save time and money and invest in a professionally designed website. The clients that you wouldn’t otherwise have found will thank you for it.

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