Do You Need a Web Developer?

Last updated on September 25th, 2023 at 11:10 pm

I’m just gonna come out and say it: Nope!

If you’re willing to learn the tools, you can build a simple website all by yourself in less than an hour for free. With Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress (and about a thousand alternatives) that offer drag and drop editing, free hosting, and free domain names, there is literally nothing stopping you from going DIY and coming up with a decent site without a developer!

The fact is, we web developers have created so many incredible tools that if everyone wanted to use them, we’d be out of a job!

Why would we do this? Well frankly, we’re a lazy bunch. We love making things easier and we hate repetitive tasks, so we find ways to automate just about every process in the industry.

And because many of us are self-taught, we appreciate the worth of free tooling and education. So many of our projects are not only free, but open-source so that anyone can build their own version and improve on the technology!

Photo by Pixabay

Can I Actually, Though?

Yep! You can. And if you’re up for it, I love your attitude. Next, we’ll cover some questions you should answer before going solo. But first, I want to take a minute to encourage you to give it a shot, as long as your site doesn’t have something important like your business riding on it…

Read the whole article for more on that.

Be Your Own Webmaster

I’ve got a whole post on this called How to Be Your Own Webmaster, which you should read if you’re really serious. But since the rest of this article is going to be reasons you should consider bringing in a professional, I wanted to spend a little time on reasons you should take it on by yourself.

  • You want to be a web developer. This is my favorite reason, and the one I push most heavily. If you’re on the road to a career as a web dev, there is no greater teacher than experience, and you should get your hands dirty as soon and as often as possible. Just make sure that you don’t drop everything and put all of your financial eggs in one website your first time around. Web developers take years to become competent, let alone good at what they do.
  • You’re financially challenged. I feel you, friend. The fact is, web development is a niche skill, and a valuable one. Most developers are at least mildly expensive to work with, especially for low-budget or no-budget projects. It’s a harsh reality, but sometimes if you want something done at all, you have to do it yourself. But don’t despair! You can build a website yourself for $0 and with access to nothing but a computer with an internet connection. These days, you can do it on your phone if you want to! If you’re interested in learning the process of web development, read 16 Free Resources to Learn Web Development!
  • You’re just fascinated by the process. Some people are hobbyists, others are simply cursed with unceasing curiosity and have to try everything for themselves at least once. I too, am cursed, and loving every minute of it. If there’s joy in building a site yourself, that is a good enough reason to do it!

Before we get into some reasons you shouldn’t build a website yourself, let’s talk a little about the skills and processes that a good webmaster needs to know.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

What You’ll Need: Personal Sites

If your website is mostly a hobby project and you don’t intend to monetize it, you really just need the three “physical” parts of a website:

  • Domain (A web address.)
  • Host (A web server for your site to live on.)
  • CMS (Content Management System)

Rearing to go? The short version is that you register your domain through a domain provider, then point it to your chosen host and install a CMS on the host so you can start building content. Simple, right? Sort of.

To get started right now with complete instructions, read How To Build Your Website Right the First Time. You can have your site up and running inside an hour and simply focus on creating the content it lives for.

What You’ll Need: Professional Sites

If your site is representing a business, organization, event, or some other important thing, you’ll need to put some time into actually planning out your site. In addition to the three “physical” requirements above, you’ll need to create a marketing plan as well. If you don’t, I guarantee your site will never see the light of a user’s screen.

I’ll cover this in depth in a future article, but for now, know that a successful website will mean having or creating the following:

  • Domain (A web address.)
  • Host (A web server for your site to live on.)
  • CMS (Content Management System)
  • Brand identity
  • Niche
  • Target audience
  • Audience profiles
  • Logo and logotype
  • Color scheme
  • Posting schedule
  • Brand Bible
  • Content creation
  • Email marketing strategy
  • Social media marketing strategy
  • General marketing strategy
  • Marketing schedule
  • SEO strategy
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor analysis
  • Backlinks
  • Monetization
  • Time to learn new skills
  • …and more

Honestly, there isn’t a bad reason to build a website yourself. I tell a lie. There is one: arrogance. Don’t fall prey!

If building a website is a struggle for you and you can afford a professional, hire a web developer. Studio O’Riley is currently accepting clients. While there are free resources that can cut down on mistakes, a filled out and well-polished website does take careful attention and years of experience in design, programming, content creation, and marketing. If you don’t enjoy the process, don’t cheat yourself out of a good end product just to make yourself feel superior.

Now that we’ve gotten the worst reason to go solo on your site out of the way, let’s talk about some questions that can help you decide whether or not to hire a professional like Studio O’Riley.

Photo by Ivan Samkov

1. What is the purpose of your website?

Some websites don’t need to be polished. Specifically, sites that aren’t intended to make money don’t need a lot of attention. It’s nice to pamper it anyway, but your personal Stargate memorabilia blog probably doesn’t need to look particularly professional. You can take the time to work on it yourself and fix only the essential problems.

Your business website, though? Unless you have a lot more time than I think you do, you’ll want to work with a professional on that.

Websites are fairly simple in concept, but especially for beginners, unbelievably complex in execution. When you stick to the bare bones, you can usually come out with a decently nice site without too much trouble. But sites that have important things depending on them should be taken on with a developer on hand.

2. Do you have time to become a webmaster?

Recall the list of marketing needs above. It isn’t a complete list. There are 200+ ranking factors to keep track of in SEO, alone. And SEO comes after you build the website. Before you gilet there, you have to:

  • Learn how websites work
  • Build your website
  • Choose and maintain features, content, and plugins
  • Plan and create all content on your site
  • Check site for bugs and fix them
  • Plan and run marketing campaigns
  • Monitor site performance
  • Respond to reviews, comments, and emails
  • Find and implement links in your content
  • Find fresh resources and content constantly
  • Learn new concepts and skills constantly

There is absolutely no reason you can’t do it. I just want to be clear that building a website from scratch is not for the feint of heart.

3. How professional does your site need to be?

I have faith in you, but if your website has your future riding on it, it’s probably better to hire Web Developer this first time. If you choose to, you can learn the skills later, and build your next site from scratch!

The fact is, no one has ever built a website for the first time without a single hitch. Often, those hitches are small and easily resolved. Sometimes, the solution may be easy, but it’s hidden behind a learning curve. When I built my first website, I made it disappear by pressing a single button. I spent six hours trying to find out what I have done wrong, and how to fix it, and ultimately had to restore to a back up, which, thankfully, I had.

This brings me to my next point.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

4. Are you technically minded?

We have this idea of the Internet as this permanent place where if you post some thing, it’s there forever and there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it. This creates a false sense of security when it comes to our websites.

We take back ups of our sites because it is incredibly easy to delete them entirely by mistake. This illusion of permanence is perpetuated by embarrassing photos that seem to last for eternity online, but that’s only because they’re copied so many times. If you save your website to your server and forget to set up backups, your site could be toast the next time there’s a power outage or a fire in the server room.

These are not common problems, but they are possible. And there are common problems that effectively delete your site as well as a fire could. Your job as a web master, is to learn enough that you can see these problems coming before they arrive, and avert them.

I firmly believe that anyone can run a website successfully with enough time and dedication. However, some people simply do not have the time and dedication to give. You have to train yourself to think a certain way, and if that is not worth the effort, you need to consider hiring someone.

The good news is, there are plenty of free resources to learn web development, including this blog! The entire point of this blog is to help others learn to build and manage a successful website or multiple websites!

This question is less about making you second-guess yourself and more about making sure that you have room in your life to learn the necessary skills to run a website and not become overwhelmed.

Wrapping Up

If you made it all the way to the end of this article and are still feeling excited and ready to build your website yourself, read this article next!

If you need someone to talk to you about your situation, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I’m always open to messages from my readers, and I always reply. I look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully helping you with your project!

2 Comments

  1. Its like you read my mind You appear to know a lot about this like you wrote the book in it or something I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit but instead of that this is fantastic blog An excellent read I will certainly be back.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *