Make Your Website Yourself or Hire a Webside Developer?

I’m very much a do-it-yourselfer so there was little doubt I would teach myself to do simple website design. After all, I’m something of a gearhead anyway. I built ham radios in my youth, I mastered the pre-Internet BBS technology, and I love computers.

Another factor helped make my decision: most of the web designs I saw on the Internet…sucked. They were complicated, gaudy, over-wrought and distracting. They took forever to download over my dial-up connection, and they didn’t help me find what I was looking for, they hindered.

So I designed my own sites, and I designed and built simple sites for a few of my consulting clients.

After a few years I told one client, “The site I designed is now too basic for you. It doesn’t project the proper sophisticated image for your company. My strength is in information design, not graphic design. It’s time to find a good graphic designer to put a fresh face on your website.”

The client found an experienced web designer and asked me to help commission the work. We told the designer we wanted a website that was attractive but simple to use–like a tour company’s color catalog because the company was a tour company and that’s what its clients were used to.

When the new website was ready, it had sophisticated graphics, huge page files that took forever to download, elaborate rollovers and drop-down boxes, Javascript coming out of its ears, and a penchant for failure. It was an unmitigated disaster (though sophisticated).

When we presented our concerns, the designer told us the reason the site didn’t work right for us was that we had old computers and we should go out and buy new computers and try again.

So that’s how we learned why there are so many unusable websites out there: talented designers design sites they and their designer friends will like, even though the people who pay for and use the websites may hate them.

Things are better now (marginally), and on the next page I’ll give you tips on how to find a good web designer, but right now let’s look at doing it yourself.

Steep Learning Curve
If you’re not comfortable with computers, forget it, because you really do need something of a techie-head to make it up the learning curve, even with all the good software programs available to help you.

If you are comfortable with computers, at least give it a try. Even if you later decide to collaborate with a web designer, what you learn in trying to do-it-yourself will help you greatly to understand how to build a successful site.

Helpful Web-Design Programs
For my first website I wrote the HTML code by hand because that was the only way to do it. Now I use a program called DreamWeaver. It’s sort of expensive, annoyingly buggy, overly complicated, but extremely powerful. I’m still climbing its learning curve, but I figure that, like word processing, web design software is just something I have to learn to stay current in the travel writer’s craft.

There are simpler, cheaper programs. Microsoft‘s Front Page is perhaps the best known. You’re sort of trapped in Microsoft’s web (pun intended) if you use this because it will only run right if your web host uses Microsoft server software (and most don’t), but it’s a cheap and easy place to start.

There are even free (or cheap) website-publishing services that help you to set up your own simple site using their software and/or templates:

BuildAWebsiteTonight.com may be your best bet: you can get a simple website up quickly and cheaply, and you own and control all of it.

Homestead.com will help you build a website, but then they get to put their ads on it, which means you can’t put your own ads on your own site, and ads are going to be a major source of revenue for you. This might be good to get going quickly, with a move to another server later.

Tripod.com is in between: you can build your simple website for free, but then they put their ads on it; if you pay a bit more, they don’t put their ads on it.

Even if you decide to employ a web designer, the more you know about the nuts-and-bolts of how websites work, the better you can optimize the content of your site for success.

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2 Responses to Make Your Website Yourself or Hire a Webside Developer?

  1. How to Find a Good WebDesigner? | Travel Website planner, Luxury hotels, holidays, travel, villa rentals in Turkey

  2. Johnk817 says:

    I do agree with all the ideas you have introduced for your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very brief for newbies. May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post. bbcgbebddcdk

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