Who Needs a Web Designer? These DIY Services Put You in Charge

At one time, building a website was as simple as slapping a logo and some information into FrontPage. But today’s websites are far more complex, integrating with social media, allowing for online purchasing, and even incorporating graphics and sliders for visual appeal.

All of this can have small business owners feeling as though they have to pay thousands to a professional web designer to have a competitive site. But do-it-yourself services give business owners the chance to set their site up the way they want it to look. Updates are immediate and business owners save money–everyone wins.

But with so many DIY services, small business owners are challenged to pick the one that’s right for them. To help determine which site helps your own individual needs, here are a few recommendations from small business owners in a variety of industries.

Casey Armstrong, online marketer: Squarespace blows everybody out of the water. They are the best DIY website-building software. They offer an easy-to use platform to create custom websites with many professional templates, plus they include hosting. It is a no-brainer for small businesses to get their site up and running in days versus weeks or months. Also, they offer the capabilities for complete customization if/when you are ready for that.

Steven Hausman, professional speaker: I am a professional speaker and created my website using RVSiteBuilder, which is provided free of charge by my web hosting company. In my opinion, it does a good job and enables anyone from the novice to advanced level to put together a website without a lot of trouble. One advantage is that it can be accomplished either using WYSIWYG or by going directly into the HTML if you want to do something fancy.

Ruben Ugarte, IT training business co-founder: I have two go-to tools when I’m looking to build a new website. If I’m looking for something that will be simple to set up and simple to maintain, then my go-to choice is Wix.com. If I’m looking for something that is a little more flexible but harder to maintain, then I go for a self-hosted
installation of WordPress. They are both great tools, but they have very different technical requirements and uses.

Diane Hamilton, managing partner, app development: We had wanted to rebuild our company website for a couple of years, however we kept putting it off. We knew it was going to require a lot of time and effort if we did it ourselves and cost more than we were willing to pay if we contracted out. That was until we found a website theme on mysitemyway.com and realized how easy it was to implement and support a website using WordPress and our new theme. With these tools, we were able to get the bulk of our new website done in just about a week and were so confident with it, we launched it in March along with a major release of our most popular app.

Sean Gibson, rotary club PR consultant: I created and continue to manage the Franklin Rotary Club’s website. We recently were awarded the best rotary website award for our district! I use SiteDart.net and their DIY web presence builder. The builder is intuitive, but I took their class on how to use the software and that really kick-started my progress in getting the Rotary Club website up and running. Once you learn the basics of the web presence builder, changing and adding content is as easy as drag-and-drop.

When it comes to DIY web design, businesses have numerous options. WordPress templates are available both through the WordPress site and through WordPress template providers. Drag-and-drop services may be easier for those business owners who want to be more in control of how everything looks. But for some small businesses, the best option may be a hybrid between DIY and hiring a development team: hiring a designer to customize a template of your choosing to fit your own particular needs.

Whatever you choose, be sure your website is set up to allow you to easily update content, like your blog and news section. If yours is an e-commerce site, also be sure you’re comfortable uploading new products and changing prices. A regularly-updated site keeps customers coming back and helps improve search engine visibility. The right DIY service will give you the ability to update your site as often as you’d like without requiring extensive technical know-how to create.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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