DIY vs. Get a Theme vs. Custom Website

Below are the different types of websites that you can get.

  1. DIY – Do it yourself – Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy Website builder, and even free or premium themes hosted where ever you want…
    1. DIY websites can cost you anywhere from free to just a few hundred dollars.  Things to keep in mind when you go this route, are:
      1. How much time do you have and how much is your time worth.  For example, if you are a massage therapist, you probably know exactly how much an hour of your time is worth.  For sake of easy calculating, let’s say its $100/hour.   Let’s also say that it is going to take you 40 hours to complete your website (assuming you do it right).  that would mean that it would take approximately $4000 worth of your time to DIY.  Then, of course, you have to consider when you will have time to work on it.  You most likely won’t want to turn away paying customers.  So you will need to do it when time permits, which means that you won’t get it done in a week.  In fact, you might find that if you only have 8 hours a week to commit to building your website, it could take you 4-5 weeks.
      2. Finding the right plugins – This could take hours if not days and even if you find one you like, you will have to know what all the configuration settings mean and do.
      3. Protecting your investment (even if just time), Security and Backups.  Yes, there are plugins for both, but will you understand how to configure them.  There are several ways a hacker can cause you issues and there are several ways you can backup your site and store the files.  but not understanding them, can lead to your site breaking because you exceeded storage limits…
      4. Making sure users can find your site in Search Engines (basic SEO)
      5. Making sure users can find what they are looking for on your site.
      6. Making sure your site is adding credibility to your business and not hurting it.  First impressions are extremely important.
      7. Do you know how to optimize your site for fast page loads – cropping and optimizing your images
      8. Using good naming conventions for pages and images.
      9. Making sure that you are protecting your users sensitive information – securing your site under a Secure Socket Layer certification
      10. Finally, will your site respond well to all device types? (phones and tablets)
  2. From a theme with a CMS like WordPress – no customizations, just install and configure. This is a “what you see is what you get” route. Ie. If halfway through setting up the theme with your content and images, you realize that it is missing one thing, you will either have to “shoehorn” it into the site, just deal with it, or hire someone to extend the website. Even if you go with the theme as it is off the shelf, you will still need to:
    1. Know which WordPress settings to use.
      1. Know what permalinks are and which is best for you
      2. Know how to display latest post or page as the homepage
      3. Know how to display times and dates
    2. Know how to create users and knowing which permissions to use
    3. know which Which security and backup plugins to install and configure
  3. Semi-Custom/Hybrid website – From a theme, but customizations have been made to support your business or branding/design needs
    1. CSS changes include colors, Fonts, Font sizes, padding, margins, etc
    2. HTML changes include updating the template to accommodate a new layout.  This can be widening a template, changing it from a two column layout to a one column full-width layout or really any combination.
    3. PHP changes include new custom fields to display things that aren’t included in the theme.  It might be to re-order things to include additional queries to the database…
  4. Custom Website – From a photoshop design or some other design where at a minimum all PHP is written from scratch to meet the business and design needs.  This includes creating custom templates using HTML and CSS to create the look and feel and how things are laid out on the page.  This also includes the PHP code that does the querying of the database to get the content.  It usually includes creating custom post types and custom fields for the clients to enter the content the way their business dictates.  For example, it might include custom fields for specials, testimonials, additional images, room types and room specifications, pricing fields, amenities, and more.  It also might include integrations with 3rd party CRMs or social media feeds.

In conclusion, you have options when starting a website project, but it is important to know what you are signing up for as the costs as well as what you get can vary greatly.