Why is Web Development Necessary?
I've been interested recently in what creates that want in a business owner to pay for a professionally made web application, as opposed to making one himself using tools like Wordpress, or Shopify.
The number one criteria, and one that is totally understandable, is cost. At least in the short term, preparing and launching your own web site or application can seem like a much smarter choice when it comes to the bottom line. Let's face it, professional web development does not always come cheaply (and if it does you probably are better off doing it yourself).
In a recent conversation with a client, I went over some points that I might share with you here. He was launching a new business. It was a very good concept. He had a good business plan, and the knowledge and experience to get it done. He had also spent a modest amount on branding and logo.
His plan was to create a Wordpress website himself to launch the business.
I explained a few things that might not be immediately known to a person without experience or knowledge in web design/development;
- WordPress - as a platform - is a poor choice for any business. Its ubiquitous nature makes it a popular choice for hackers and spammers. Security vulnerabilities open up as soon as others are closed down. Design decisions are left to poorly executed, mostly free, templates with little emphasis placed on usability for that particular business
- Without knowledge of search engine optimisation and search engine marketing mistakes or omissions (that you would not even be aware of) might see your site never ranking when and where it should (or even have a chance to do so)
- The way in which a user navigates and uses a site has a set of rules and expectations which if violated are jarring for a user, limiting their time or use of a site
- If you are selling a product online or taking money for goods or services online, then your web site provides the confidence and credibility that encourages someone to transact. A poorly executed site, with design issues, poor layout or page flow make a person less likely to spend
- Fixing technical and hosting issues. I spend a fair amount of my time helping clients fix issues with hosting (hosting does stop working form time to time), problems with emails (very common) and so on
- What expansion will you need to consider for the future
- What pages and layout do you need
- What on-page elements are needed - contact forms, newsletter sign-ups, blog, sales process, image sliders, font selection, animated elements, video, and others
The right answers and solutions to these problems can all be found online and by speaking to the right people.
The question is, how is your time best spent. Do you spend the time researching and working out something that someone else already knows how to do professionally, leaving you more time for other things?
The point is, yes it costs more money to get a professional to get your web presence created, but with the time you are saving you could be;
- Devising and executing other forms of marketing, or working out how to drive more potential customers to your website
- Servicing your existing clients
- Improving or creating your workflows
I'm sure that you could easily expand on that list.
As a business owner your time, and money are both in short supply often, and allocating them can be a juggling act.
The final point is one that makes this process a little more difficult.
Web development is not a regulated field, and so it is possible for just about anyone to sell their services as a 'web designer', even with little or no real technical knowledge. In fact, when it comes to servicing the small business market, it may be a majority of people in the field.
I have seen some woefully bad examples of this over my time in the web development field. 'Designers' who have no understanding of design, layout, user interaction, SEO and so on. If it were a choice, you would definitely be better off getting it done yourself than have an inexperienced or technically incompetent person doing it instead.
So when you do decide to hire someone to get the work done for you, you should ask lots of questions, and see examples of work. Make sure for yourself that you are going to get what you paid for. If you are getting quotes, the cheapest quote may very turn out to be the new untrained person in the field. So be cautious.
The other type of person you may encounter in web development is the 'expert' - the person who will tell you how much they know but are in actuality just an amateur themselves. They may have built their own website once, and now consider that they know as much as a fully trained and experienced person. And it is true that such a person may have some knowledge or ability derived from their own research, but one should be wary and make an informed decision.
To put this in perspective, imagine you are setting up a bricks-and-mortar shop. You have a great product and an idea of the location you want. In order to negotiate to buy land or leasing, you contact a Real Estate Agent.
To build a shop, or renovate an existing one you contact a builder, electrician, plumber, architect etc.
You locate a shopfitter to fit out and design your shop interior. You hire specialists to deliver your product or even man the till.
Given that most people would rely on the services of a trained specialist to get these things done, why would they try to build the online presence themselves - arguably more important, or at least as important, as a physical presence in today's market.
Of course, it is an individual decision and one that as the owner of the business, or the person who makes the decisions, only you can make. My purpose here has been to provide you with some further information with which to make your decision.
And if you do decide to create your own web presence to save costs initially, there is no shame or harm in contacting someone down the track to improve that, or even start it freshly. A true professional developer would not be daunted by that.
In the meantime, have plenty of conversations with people and do your own research.