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Do It Yourself website design or in-house web design rarely works out. Short terms gains but long term it costs you more.
4th June 2011

A friend recently called me asking how much a programmer would charge per month to develop a site he wanted created for one of his businesses. Being on a low budget hecould not afford professional web design companies like us. Although I gave him the information he was looking for I also warned him about the issues that occur when you try DIY web design using hired guns.

Here are a few thoughts for those considering creating the company website in-house.

Freelance web designers hired temporarily are notorious for leaving work incomplete. Lack of accountability is a major issue.

Many free lancers are just employees looking for their next job and are taking up projects to pass the time till they find another job. They are notorious for leaving jobs unfinished and disappearing when a good job offer appears. Many times they promise to finish the project on weekends and that rarely ever works out.   I have seen countless instances of clients left in the lurch by absconding freelancers.

Good web designers / developers are snapped up by companies. What's left floating in the market are the tier two people

Not that I want to cast aspersions on the capabilities of free lancers in the market but in my experience most of the really good ones are already working for firms or have started their own firms. The freelancers floating in the market rarely have the caliber required to pull off complex projects.

Web design companies have systems, discipline and rigor developed over a cross section of work which will be missing in in-house teams.

The pressures of delivering projects over and over force web design companies to develop systems and work with discipline and rigor. In-house DIY teams will not have that kind of discipline and focus. In the end the client has to act like a cattle herder - cajoling or  threatening the team to finish the job.

Web designing is increasingly becoming more complex, requiring am integrated cross functional team to pull off projects. It needs good web project management skills.

Many people hire a designer to create the design and then hire a programmer to code it. This results in a kind of disjointed development which shows up in the site use and functionality. In a web design firm different members work together consistently in cross functional teams to deliver a tightly integrated project. They are over seen by a project manager who has to keep all the threads together and build a coherent system. With DIY projects the client ends up as a project manager -   a role he is ill equipped to deal with.

DIY web design might save you money in the short term but will cost you time and money in the long term.

Usually the impetus to do a DIY web project is to save money but that is terribly short sighted and can prove costly in the long term. Any website is a long term project, not a short term dash. Business models change over time and the website has to adapt accordingly. For the client once the initial team has been disbanded it becomes extremely difficult to make these changes. If the initial team has not created a scalable architecture then the job becomes even more complex and difficult. The client ends up going through a series of people who all do their own thing to the site. The site ends up a mess of different coding techniques, design elements and disjointed planning.

Web design has to carry forward into web marketing - SEO, SEM and Social Media needs to be smoothly integrated into the site.

A DIY freelancer team will rarely design or develop keeping a long term view in   mind. To them its just a project that has to be done and over with it. A web design agency has to think from the point of view of marketing as well. Is the site SEO friendly? Will it integrate with Social media? A long view of marketing has to be taken.  Its extremely difficult to turn around a site which is not SEO friendly from the beginning and even the best pros make mistakes in this aspect.

In conclusion - it's an  extremely risky proposition to do DIY web design, and I'm not saying this cause I run  a web design firm. I have personally seen the pitfalls and problems client face when they try it.

Cheers,
Ron

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