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Should I hire a web designer or do my website myself with Wix or Squarespace?

You’re strong, you’re rugged, you’re a sexy beast of efficiency and money-saving ideas. But we all know that isn’t quite true.

Most small businesses don’t do their own taxes, because the recognition of nuances and complications in taxes is hard to grok.

Most people don’t represent themselves in legal matters, either, because we know we’ll likely get into more trouble or more expense if we don’t.

We do the same thing with insurance and any time we hire a plumber, electrician, handy man, accountant, doctor, dentist, or teacher. It’s the recognition that there’s more to that topic than I know right now.

But talk about a website and people start thinking they can do it themselves. And why not? Competitors like Wix, GoDaddy Site Builder, Squarespace, and others are pretty good at what they do.

Here’s what you can do with Wix and Squarespace

  • Publish a page or series of pages with information about your business.
  • Publish a contact form.
  • Embed some photos or videos.
  • Integrate some social media buttons or services.
  • Offer some e-commerce functions so customers can buy products.

“Yep, that’s all I need.” I can you hear you now through your keyboard.

But just as TurboTax works great if you have a W2-style job, anything additional comes at a price. It costs you time and could cost you real money.

But I am not here to make us all feel worry and woe at these DIY sitebuilders. Wix has complained plenty of times about my last post about them a year or so ago. Squarespace has built probably the prettiest of the DIY site builders. GoDaddy is … well GoDaddy is terrible all around.

But I do want to explain some key things that people always miss:

  • You are truly on your own. There’s no getting help from Wix to solve challenging design problems.
  • Your content is what people are truly after. And what you already have probably isn’t great. People do not care about your mission or vision statement. They don’t care about your history, or really how your logo looks. They’re asking, “What are you doing for me right now?” And in most cases, on most of these Wix and Squarespace sites, the answer is “nothing.”
  • Your website is the best lead-generating mechanism you have, no matter what your business. If you treat your website like a brochure, you’ll get just as much results as your brochure gets. People need to interact, not read a pamphlet.
  • Your site should make your life easier and reflect some semblance of your business. Templates can carry about 80% of the people, but falls flat on a lot of industries. This is why Realtors all have business cards with a stock photo of a house on them. And why consultants always have cards and sites decorated with flags and eagles.

What exactly am I missing with Wix or Squarespace?

There’s an advisor you’re missing, for sure. But there’s some technical challenges these DIY site builders haven’t really figured out how to do well with:

  • Templates drive Google’s “Duplicate Content” algorithm errors
  • Since you don’t have access to much of the back end code, you also don’t have much access to optimize its delivery, its efficiency, or its structure. This hurts search optimization and user experience. Every time we redesign someone’s site after having been on Wix without fail we can make it 46% faster and increase its search rank by 2-3 pages without even trying hard.
  • That lack of custom functionality prevents you from automating processes so when someone contacts you, they can have the option to add themselves to a newsletter.
  • Further, the lack of robust functionality means a lot of times you don’t offer the ability to conduct some business online. Instead you opt for, “Just call and we’ll take care of it.” Which fails spectacularly for the 2/3 of the day you’re not sitting at your desk.

There’s a bigger problem, too. One that is the most crucial part of our work with our customers: you don’t have anyone helping you do the hard part.

The hard part isn’t designing the site or building it. It’s not designing the logo or figuring out a name. Those parts are pretty routine. The hard part is developing a strategy that works for your business to actually make the cash register ring.

That’s where we pour through your facts, figures, data, revenue, and all your disparate spreadsheets to determine what you’re really good at it. It’s the part where we ask hard questions about how to make your business more efficient and measurable. It’s the part where we work together to write material for your website that people want to read. Something more than the time we initially put the site up. Something more than your mission and vision and contact page. Because no one cares about those (do you read Amazon’s history page?).

The hardest part begins when the site is first published. Because the basis is easy and anyone can do it. But to expand further requires work. And it’s hard.

That’s what makes it worth doing. Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace and the rest ignore that hard part. They’re just happily taking your money each month without giving any real guidance. We’ll happily take your money, too, but we do it for not much more than them and give a whole lot more, too.

Those DIY site builders can be great for the simplest of tasks. But they can’t help you figure out how to grow and be better.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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