Once a small business owner decides to build a Web site, he or she is faced with a decision: to build a site in-house, or to outsource it. And the answer, as with many issues in business, is “it depends.” It depends on your site requirements, your budget, your skill level, and, perhaps most importantly, whether you have the time.
First you’ll need to determine what kind of site your business requires. If you need a high-powered e-commerce solution with complicated database functionality and you’re an Internet novice, then building your own site probably isn’t an option. But not every business needs all those bells and whistles. If all you need is a basic site to display your product offerings and spread the word about your company, doing it yourself might be the way to go.
Before you embark on the DIY route, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Can you design the site? With all the WYSIWYG Web-design tools available, as well as excellent Web site template options, you no longer need to be an HTML expert to build your site. But you will need a basic grasp of coding and design principles.
- Can you write the site content? Creating compelling copy that sells your products is essential to succeeding online.
If you answered “no” to either (or both) of the questions above, you’ll probably need to enlist the help of a professional designer, and maybe a copywriter. This will entail an initial investment, but the results are normally well worth the expense. A professional designer should be able to turn the project around quickly, which can make the difference if you need your presence up and running right away. A copywriter can help you hone and refine your site’s content to ensure that it will attract new customers.
A professional Web designer will also be able to help you if you plan to run an e-commerce site. Shopping carts, secure servers, and complicated scripts require extra time and knowledge to implement. While many shopping carts are very easy to install, encryption techniques to ensure customer credit card safety can confuse even the smartest small business owner.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the prospect of taking your business online. Building a Web site is just like any other business decision you make. You’ll need a plan of what the project will entail, and only then can you determine whether or not you can (or should) do it yourself or outsource it. If you do decide to do it yourself, don’t forget to factor in the time it will take. That means you’ll have less time to manage the rest of your business, at least temporarily. Weigh all your options, and choose wisely.