Do I really need to hire someone to build my website? Part 1

Times are tough, money is tight, and everyone is looking to do more with less. The Internet is full of people who promise that they can build your website. Should you hire them? Do you even need them?

Obligatory history lesson

In the early days of the Internet – back when the term Webmaster was more than an ironic joke hipsters put on their resume – the answer was always “yes, of course you do”. HTML was scary, the insanity that is CSS had yet to be invented but JavaScript was around to help push developers over the edge. While anyone with a copy of “Hotdog Editor” or “Homesite” could hang out their shingle as a web designer, getting it right was difficult. It was only natural to hire someone to build your website for you, even if it was your niece or nephew.

The rise of dynamic languages took the tools of programming from the hands of the trained few and put them in the hands of the curious many.Then a revolution happened. Languages like PHP brought programming to the masses. The rise of dynamic languages took the tools of programming from the hands of the trained few and put them in the hands of the curious many. Programs started popping up – both commercial and open source – with the promise that anyone could put up a website. Sadly, this promise sounded good in theory but failed in practice.

Those that stuck with it – those that built their website and maybe a few more – started realizing that a lot of websites were the same thing over and over again. They started building out platforms to solve these common problems. Systems like were born. They still weren’t exactly easy to install and get running, but they were a lot easier than before.

Why the history lesson was important

Flash forward to today, platforms like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and many others, have entire ecosystems built around them. Building a website today can be as easy as clicking a few buttons and answer a few questions. Very quickly you can deploy a website, customized functionality and be ready to start entering you content, entering products, or building the part of your website that makes it special. In many cases you have to ask yourself, “if you have to spend money, isn’t it better invested in design and content, two areas that have yet to be commoditized?”

The answer to that, as well as the original question is a big fat “it depends”. Whether or not you need help depends on how complex your website will be. If you haven’t done your due diligence yet, even you don’t know the answer to that question. Let’s look at a simple exercise you can do to help decide if you need to hire someone or not.

We will divide web projects into four groups. The first of these we will be discussing in this post.

A Simple Website

This task will take you between thirty and sixty minutes. Don’t attempt it if you don’t have the time, wait until you do have the time to complete it and think about the results.

Sit down with a sheet of paper and list bullet points of everything that your website needs to do. Use more paper if you need it. Don’t get too technical, most things can be described in one or two sentences.

Once you have a complete list of everything you want your website to do, go to WordPress.com and register. Setup a dummy blog just for testing.

Look at the functions available for you to use. Look at the themes available for you to install. Review your list point-by-point and see how many bullet points you can tick off just using the tools at hand on WordPress.com. Can you get your website up and running using only WordPress.com? If you can see all the features you need, and can find a theme you like, you don’t need to hire someone.

WordPress.com is a powerful platform and a lot of people use it because it does what they need. If it does what you need then congratulations, you won’t have to spend much at all to get up and going and while you probably don’t need to hire someone to build your website, you may want to anyhow.

 

 

Want more helpful advice?

Are you looking for more helpful advice? Check out our book, Avoiding a Goat Rodeo. It was written to help non-programmers understand website development. It shows you how to get the website you want.

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One thought on “Do I really need to hire someone to build my website? Part 1

  1. Pingback: Do I really need to hire someone to build my website? Part 2 | Avoiding a Goat Rodeo

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