Do It Yourself Web Development: A Guru Answers Some Questions

Paul Chato, President of answers questions about web sites, in particular do it yourself services and more.
Although web sites are a critical part of business, many smaller businesses still don’t have web sites. Why? Many of those that do have web sites, have web sites that are horribly designed or not functional. is one of many do it yourself (DIY) web site building services that help you build a simple, low cost web site.
[] – There are so many DIY web site publishing services, what differentiates yours from them?
[Paul] – First of all, we are targeting a market that does not use DIY sites, namely graphic designers and communications professionals who would rather remove their own eyes than use a DIY system like 1plus1. They have never had a tool like YWD before and have always had to rely on contracting out to programmers the development of a site. Let’s not forget that graphic designers and consultants also represent a large crop of small businesses.
Secondly, and most importantly, Your Web Department is a true multi-site, CMS system that automates new site creation. All of the competition are essentially just renting hard drive space and offering a set of tools of various levels of quality to fill that space with static content. Ours is a complete, integrated package built around a powerful CMS with full permissions and user management.
If you take the totality of our system it is the easiest to setup and use environment out there.
What are some things a small business should consider when thinking of if they should use a DIY service or hire a web developer?
The most important things a small business should consider regarding a website are:
-Clear brand that connects the visitor with the service or product
-A clear description of the business
-A clear reason for the person to visit the site
-Well organized content that is for the user
-A call to action if appropriate
Ironically, none of the above have anything to do with programming. Therefore, if you can execute the above you should have no problem using YWD in creating a compelling experience. If you cannot execute the above then that is when you should hire a web professional.
Also, if there is some real need for a technological component requiring connections to databases and the displaying of data unique to that business that would represent a legitimate need to find a web developer. We realize that each website has its won requirements.
If they decide to DIY how to choose between using software like Dreamweaver or Frontpage vs one like yours?
Interesting question. I would say that the reason that 50% of businesses do not have websites is because Dreamweaver, Frontpage, FTPing, PHPing, MySQLing is just too daunting. So I would suggest that there is a sweet-spot of DIYers who understand the tools but want a better and more satisfying experience based on a CMS and percentage of the non-sited businesses who would attempt to build their own website if a tool as easy-to-use as YWD existed. There will always be the hardcore who will want to build something themselves and those who will always be afraid of the Internet.
The bottom line is that YWD is where website development is heading. You no longer need to know how an engine works to drive a car, the day you needed to program a website is now slowly abating with products like YWD.
What is the value of a web designer and when should someone hire a web designer?
I think my answer to number 2 fits here. People have grudgingly accepted that a technological component would always consume a percentage of web development time. We have removed that impediment and now web designers can concentrate on the communications strategy of their client’s site. Most people do not understand Information Architecture, design or content. That’s where a professional web designer and communications consultant comes in. We don’t need more technology we need more thoughtful content.
I’ve heard that many small businesses still do not have web sites. Why? What’s stopping them?
Fear. From our experience of doing websites for 10 years, the Internet presents two of their greatest fear factors; 1) Technology. And since their VCRs are still flashing 12:00 the Internet has a tendency to make people feel stupid. 2) Small business owners are really uncomfortable writing content. And frankly, most people are not very articulate on paper. So the obvious solution is to just not have a website.
Another factor is that they are afraid that investing in a website will not bring them any more benefit. Not understanding the value of the Internet causes small companies to not have sites and big companies to under-spend on them.
Also, we do not do any work for family-run businesses. When someone calls I always qualify it by asking if it is a family-run business. If the answer is yes, I ask, “Is your dad still alive?” If the answer is yes then I say, thanks for calling, good-bye.
Speak to me about domain name, marketing, ecommerce – does YWD offer these services?
We provide free domain registration and email accounts for our clients. We do have a catalogue and shopping-basket system that’s really sweet that comes set up to work with Paypal, but we don’t have a turn-key ecommerce set up because most of our clients either already have a relationship with a bank so it is easy for us to set up the link. As far as marketing is concerned we don’t have SEO in house or marketing services. Our model is to train YWD Masters and YWD Consultants whom our YWD client base can turn to for trusted help. We are purposely not trying to hoard all the business. We want other people to succeed based on using the YWD model and becoming a member of the growing YWD community.