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To Hire a Web developer or Do it Yourself? A Decision You Must Make Very Carefully




A big decision many online entrepreneurs face is whether to hire a web developer or to design a website themselves. Whether you agree or not the Internet has become a critical part of our day to day life. Let’s face it- where do you go anytime you need some quick information? If your answer was not the Internet, then I’d like to know myself where you go.

The Internet is the one stop source of information for most people today. Whether you are looking to sell something, promote a business, provide or receive information or simply share your expertise with like minded individuals, a basic website that functions properly is all you need to start conducting your business.

The question to ponder then becomes, how easy is it to design your own website? Or should you hire a web developer? It is the basic fundamental question most of us struggle with in life (with any project) - to hire someone or do it yourself (“DIY”)?



It’s not difficult to make your own website

While the option to hire someone may seem easier and quicker, there are a lot of factors to consider in making your decision. The answer to the question is it easy to create your website is both yes and no.

It is easy if you are willing to put in a little bit of time on websites like this learning as much as you can about creating websites and marketing them to be successful. It is difficult if you tell yourself that you cannot do it and are overwhelmed with the amount of information that is on this site.

The key is to take a step back and think about the millions who have put up their own websites by themselves and ask the question are they really smarter than you are? The question is not of smarts, it’s about the initiative and effort. Equipped with the proper knowledge and information, you will be prepared to embark on your journey to online success (or any success) with confidence.

Constant need for updates, implementation of new technology, and your own personal touch in creating your website are not readily possible if this service is to be outsourced. Believe me, when I had just started my ecommerce site each time I wanted to tweak something I had to wait days before my developer even got back to me, let alone the execution of the change.

More than anything, you will lose control over your site and will become completely reliant on the person you hire. Specifically, if your site contains material that will require regular updates, hiring someone might not be the best idea. What if they charge you $100 for every update? What about $75? $50? It doesn’t matter. Some important questions that you might want to ask yourself prior to making your decision are as follows:
  • • Who is your target market and what kind of an operating system are they using?


  • • Will you be selling goods or simply providing information?


  • • How big will the site be?


  • • What are your plans for the site? How big do you want to make it eventually?


  • • How often will you be updating your site?


  • • How much additional functionality do you want to add to your site?


  • • What is your budget?


  • • Will you require a database to store and retrieve information?


  • • How will you direct more traffic to your website? Will you require search engines for this?


  • • How sensitive are you to the timing of your site’s launch? What about ongoing modifications?
Before making the decision of hiring a professional or DIY, it is essential to at least have some basic knowledge of website development. For example, simple tasks like adding links to your site, changing texts, updating and organizing content are very easy to learn and do not take much time to do.

It is always best to learn a little bit about website building even if you hand it over to an expert. This will ensure that you are able to handle the simple tasks when you need them done as well as answer the basic questions you’re your web developer might ask you. It is always easier to communicate when you know how to speak the language; and I don’t mean the programming language.



Consider the financing you have available

Funding is always a big factor in most development projects. Building a website is no different. Management of your limited finances is a critical task when you are first starting your online business. You need to be very careful on how you spend and what you spend it on. That is precisely why you need to research and learn what it takes to build a website and make it successful.

I will always recommend that you create your website on your own, at least what you can without having to learn programming. Ask yourself what is the best use of your spare funds? Are you paying for something you can do on your own relatively easily? How long are you going to keep having to pay? What if your site takes off in the future?

I know the thought can be overwhelming, but like anything else, it is not that bad once you get started. In fact you will have so much fun you will not realize how much you have accomplished in such a short time.



Getting started is the Key

The key, however, is to GET STARTED. As your site begins to generate more traffic and expand in the future, you will want to spend a lot more time adding good quality content to take it to the next level.

You may also want to add functionality and complexity at that point, and it might make sense to bring in outside expertise instead of spending time learning how to program your add on features. So think about the pros and cons involved in the decision between working on the development of the site as opposed to spending your time on the actual content of your site?

A simple string of questions that I personally ask myself when faced with these kinds of decisions is as follows: What am I paying for? Can I do it myself without spending a lot of time and effort? If yes then I go for it. If no then I ask how much would it cost me? Is the cost within my budget? What benefits am I to derive from the project? Usually I don’t need to go much further and I doubt you will too. You will most likely know what to do at this point..



When does outsourcing make sense?

So now that you have a basic understanding of the pros and cons involved in DIY vs. outsourcing, you might still decide to hire a professional if your site requires complex designing and features. Graphic designing, scripting, and multimedia are just some of the advanced features that require proper understanding and expertise.

The last thing a user wants to do is browse through a site that is unattractive, difficult to navigate, and not user friendly. If you plan on adding complexity to your website, it might make sense to hire a programmer for some of the difficult aspects of your website. Also, do not forget about the competition. The sooner you get started the better.

Will saving those few extra dollars now be worthwhile in the long run? Can you expedite the time of your launch by hiring someone? Would hiring someone add technical functionality to your site that will give you a competitive advantage over your competition? These are some of the important questions that you need to answer. The key here is to know the value of your time.

What is the most valuable use of your time? If the answer is that you have nothing better to do than to develop your site, then DIY. If you think your best use is to go at it yourself (highly recommended), then DIY. But if the answer is working your job that makes you $150 an hour, then you might want to ponder that some more. Either way you go, I would always stress learning as much as you can about your website (and the software you used) and how to work as much of it on your own.



Web Development Technology

There was a time when web designing used to be a task similar to building the Taj Mahal. Well not quite but it used to be a lot tougher than it is today. Previously, you needed to know HTML programming. HTML involves the use of Hypertext Markup Language, a programming code that translates into the beautiful shapes and colors that you see on a webpage.

These days, the use of WYSIWYG is more preferable among web designers. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get; a technology that makes it easier for you to build a website through simply pointing and clicking with your mouse. It’s really just like putting a puzzle together.

HTML and WYSIWYG are the two most common ways to design a website and the best website design software is a hybrid of the two technologies. With software that uses a hybrid of both technologies, you are able to build a website easily by clicking and dragging and have the HTML code create itself in the background. I strongly recommend this option because if you are building something serious that will require good functionality, then you will need HTML.

This hybrid of technology is available mostly through some of the pricier design software available today. Continue reading to learn about the cost of website design software and the best and most cost efficient option.

On a side note however, HTML isn’t very hard to learn. Do learn the basics if you have the time. The code itself isn’t hard to learn and if you have the time, it will give you endless flexibility and options and better control over every element of your website and how it looks online.


Two good basic web design software recommendations and some of the cheapest website templates you will find in the marketplace are outlined below:
  • CoffeeCup HTML Editor - This program has WYSIWYG/HTML technology. Additional features include DHTML scripting, Blog and live chat option. Many additional options are available for a small cost. Free Trial Offer ($49 full price) (#1 RECOMMENDED)


  • Website Tonight – This tool from GoDaddy includes over 100 professionally designed templates, flash technology, form builder, picture and graphic directories and is Java compatible. You can get started for as low as $3.89 per month.

Something to keep in mind as you are evaluating your choices is that you will come across some web design software that will allow you to use both HTML and WYSIWYG technologies. However it might not let you use both simultaneously. Your goal is to find something that allows both simultaneously to truly take advantage of the technologies and to be able to build your website with ease and a lot of success.

When you do come across a program that allows you to use both simultaneously make sure that you are not limited in your HTML editing rights within the software. Some software companies are such that they lure you in with the promise that their programs will make web creation easy for you. Well that’s all fine and dandy but you need to have HTML editing rights if you ever want to add advanced functionality and sophistication to your website.

Also avoid software packages that promise all the flashy bells and whistles but does not provide enough information on its functionality. Chances are that the reason they have nothing to talk about to begin with is because they don’t have enough sophistication in their programs in the first place. Otherwise, why wouldn’t anyone stress their stellar functionality? Avoid these. And of course, avoid offers to create and host websites for free.



Advanced web design tools

Software programs like Dreamweaver are some of the most powerful and advanced web design software out there. Some of the best website design reviews have been generated by websites that used these programs. All these programs are reasonably user friendly and helpful, and provide more sophistication and functionality that you could ever hope for.

These software also have great tools within them that can guide you and provide technical support while you design your website. As you would expect, these programs are more costly than the basic software discussed in the previous section. I definitely recommend these powerful tools for someone who is a bit more comfortable with website design.

If you are a novice, perhaps you could start with some of the basic, low cost options and then move on to some of the more advanced tools. Trust me, these are worth every penny of your investment.


Hiring professional help revisited

People are normally a bit reluctant to pay for services they think they can do themselves. You and I might be the same way in that regard. However, handing your web development over to a web designer comes with its set of benefits.

As a business owner that starts with little capital and usually no help, you will mostly likely be both the CEO and the janitor of your own business. What I mean to say is that you will already have plenty responsibility on your shoulders to begin with. You want to be efficient with your limited time and ensure that your time is spent in activities you are best at, such as your business’ core competency.

You may feel that you can put in the time up front in developing a basic website for your business. But what if your business expands before your eyes a lot quicker than you had anticipated? Although this is a problem most of us would like to have, it is a problem nonetheless and needs to be solved. The last thing you want to do is take a week off your business’ core routine and dedicate it to expanding and enhancing your website right?

By hiring a web designer you are relieving yourself of this issue. You can dictate what you want done and have the designer do the dirty job for you. Of course these services come at a cost, but the costs are worthwhile if you know you can be more profitable spending your time on other activities that are more fruitful for you. The bottom line here is that spend your time in doing what you do best and delegate other tasks to experts if you can afford to do so.

Don’t mistake my advocacy of hiring a web developer into me saying that you don’t need to know anything about your website’s technical side. Although I am not saying you should learn every single detail, I am however saying that you should invest time in learning the tool your website is build by. Invest in a good software program that is user friendly and easy to understand to minimize the time it takes for you to learn it.

Once your designer is done and you stop paying them, you are on your own to continue to maintain your website and modify it as needed and wanted. Of course if you have the time and can afford to do so, learn everything you can. Knowledge is power after all and it will never hurt to know more than you want or should.



Outsourcing Resources

RentACoder is a good resources to use to find web designers to work on your project. Whether you are looking to have and entire website built from scratch or simply add functionality to your current website, RentACoder will allow you get the work done to your satisfaction prior to remitting payment for the services.

You can advertise the project you want to get done. Web designers bid on your proposed work and you can choose who you want to go with at the end of the bidding. Most, if not all programmers, accept payments through PayPal, a simple, safe and easy way to conduct a financial transaction online.

You are open to freely communicate with these programmers so make sure they understand exactly what you are looking for. Make sure you learn the basics of the work they will be doing for you. Also communicate to them in advance the web design tool you are planning on using to maintain the website so that they can coach you on how to do the edits and updates.

There are many that use these resources to have their initial websites developed and then continue to maintain and update them using sophisticated web design tools such as Dreamweaver. At this point you are free to use any web design software of your choice.



In conclusion...

Regardless of what route you decide to go, always always learn the most basics of website creation even if you decide to hire a web developer. My goal is not to turn you into a programmer, and you don’t need to be. With the technology and tools we have today, you don’t have to be. What you need however is a good understanding of your website’s functionality and how to maintain and modify it.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you need to update something on your website and your designer is gone to Australia on a 3 month vacation with his family. What will you do then? What if your designer wants you to pay him a good amount for every minor tweak and turn? Will you hire another web developer and recreate the problems? You do not want to be in this situation. At the end of the day the choice is yours of course. But I personally recommend one of the three approaches:
  • • You can hire a web developer through RentACoder and have them design your website while you continue to maintain it regularly


  • • You can purchase website templates and use web creation programs like Dreamweaver to maintain it


  • • Or you can build your website on your own and maintain it as well (most recommended)






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