You know your way around the Web. You’re familiar with one or more of the major website platforms, and you know something about HTML and CSS. Doesn’t it make sense to produce your own website rather than pay someone to design it for you?
If it’s a personal site or one for a club, DIY is a reasonable choice. The site just has to look clean, be well written, and have decent graphics. The people in your audience won’t mind if its appearance doesn’t quite measure up to the professional sites. They’re already interested in what you have to say.
When you’re running a full-time business, even a small one, it’s a different story. You’re competing against other businesses’ sites, and you need any advantage you can get. A better website will mean more business. A weak one will drive people away.
The first impression
People spend an average of eight seconds looking at a website. They’re forming an instant reaction to the page and deciding whether to stay or leave. It they leave in a few seconds, it doesn’t matter how elegant your message is; they haven’t read it.
A study found that when people are first looking at a page, they spend over 94% of their time looking at the design elements. Does the layout give an impression of being professional or amateurish? Welcoming or pushy? User-friendly or hostile? Designing an attractive website isn’t an easy task. If you follow a formula, it will look generic. To keep people around, you need a design that’s attractive but distinctive. Otherwise, they’ll go to a competing site.
An Adobe study found that two-thirds of consumers prefer viewing something beautifully designed rather than something simple and plain. This runs counter to the intuition of most people who create their own sites. Content creators think the content comes first, and it’s their job to present it as straightforwardly as possible. This isn’t what keeps most people at a site.
Getting the views
Even before making the first impression, you have to get people to open your page. To do this, you have to build a decent search engine rank. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an art which isn’t obvious to everyone who can create a technically competent website. The rules keep changing, and so should your strategies.
A factor which affects both first impressions and SEO is page loading speed. If an e-commerce page takes more than two seconds to load, Google considers it substandard, and users will give up on it. Mobile users, who now represent a majority of the page views on the Web, are especially impatient. If users don’t see your site because it doesn’t show up in a search, you’ve already lost. If they find it but give up because it’s too slow, you’re no better off.
Finally, you have to get people who view your page to stick around and do business with you. How users interact with a site is called UX (user experience). A good UX will keep people around, so they can become customers. A bad one will leave them frustrated, and they’ll give up on it. UX is another complicated art, involving many factors.
A business that creates its own website goes into it with prior knowledge. It’s hard for the creators to look at the site with fresh eyes and imagine how someone who’s never heard of them before will perceive the site. An independent designer can provide a better sense of whether it works or not.
DIY or not?
Organizations building websites sit at all points from the small personal site to the fully professional business site. If you’re counting on your website to bring in business regularly, you need a professional design. Talk with us to learn all the ways an experienced design team can make a huge difference for you.
Also published on Medium.