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Websites for Small Businesses: 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

Jul 01, 2019

Your cousin can do your website for you, cheap. It’s easy. He’ll just sign you up for one of those online builders, pick out a template and there you go.

That’s definitely a cost-cutting option you could choose. The truth is, just about any small business owner could build their own site. But here’s the kicker: The site is going to looklike you built it. Your customers will notice.

Or worse yet, you might create a site that Google is going to penalize for a number of infractions. Even a decent-looking site won’t do you much good if Google has relegated it to page four search results, never to be seen again. 

Your website is the hub of your marketing efforts. Whether you’re building your strategy on or offline, customers will visit your website. Running ads in the paper? Attending trade shows? It doesn’t matter. Customers are still going to scope you out online. 

That’s why you need a website that will help your business grow. From messaging to functionality and overall aesthetic, your website should actively build your business, not detract from it. 

Still thinking you might go the build-your-own route? Here are seven more reasons we think you should change your mind: 

1. Do What You Do Best

You have a business to run! Maybe you’re putting out a few fires along the way, but you don’t need a giant, time-consuming distraction. 

Here’s the hard truth: You don’t know what you don’t know. Building your own website requires a lot of on-the-job learning. Why put all that time and effort into something you’re only going to do once? (Because technology changes fast. By the time you’re ready to relaunch your site, you’re going to have to learn it all over again.)

Hiring a professional means you can focus on what you do best. It’s faster. And if your time means real money for your business, it’s cheaper, too. 

2. Performance

You know that website with the slow-loading photos? The one you clicked off of after three seconds? Don’t let that be your business. You need a site that loads fast, protects your information and boosts your visibility online.

There’s a lot of technical know-how that goes into a fast-loading website. What do you know about optimizing images, script bloat and asynchronous loading? Caching, compression and HTTPS requests?

What about site security? Speed and security make a big difference to Google — and to your customers. 

Figure 1 below shows results from Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The business website in question was recently built by a graphic designer (not a web specialist) using one of the leading do-it-yourself platforms. This site earned an alarmingly low score of 16 out of 100 in Google’s mobile page speed analysis. What good is a website that customers bounce back off of?

Websites for Small Businesses 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

1: Results from Google's PageSpeed Insights tool

3. Creativity

It takes about 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion about your website.[1] If it’s not attractive, people will click back over to Google and look for something else. You might play it safe and stick close to a premade template, but then you’ll have a site that looks like everyone else’s. 

A professionally trained graphic designer understands content design. They know how to present information in a way that’s both usable and aesthetically pleasing. They can help you build a unique look that fits with your brand and helps differentiate your business online. Pair that with an experienced web technician, and you’ve got a site that works and doesn’t just look nice. 

As an example, check out the work below that we did for the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California.

Websites for Small Businesses: 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

4. Mobile Friendly

Just because you build your site on a mobile responsive platform doesn’t mean your site is mobile friendly. You can still end up making mistakes in terms of picture size, link placement or menu formatting. 

Placing your links too close together, for example, could trigger a warning. A mobile-friendly site is one that makes it easy for people to navigate around, without the risk of clicking on an unintended link.

Learn more about the work we did for the Carbon County Child Development Program with a mobile-friendly redesign:

Learn more about the work we did for the Carbon County Child Development Program with a mobile-friendly redesign:

To check your existing site, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. It’ll tell you whether your site is mobile friendly and will flag certain errors that may need your attention. Not sure what to do about those errors? Chances are your ad hoc designer doesn’t either.

Websites for Small Businesses 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

Websites for Small Businesses 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

2: Mobile-friendly page errors

5. SEO

Some of the website builders available today do have some basic SEO tools built in. But you still need a strategy. The right professional web team will have an expert on staff who knows the latest rules and expectations around keywords and tags. SEO is not a job for a hobbyist. Google’s algorithms change frequently, and if you’re not keeping up, you might not get found. 

6. Ongoing Support

Your after-hours, side-gig web builder has other things to do. Maintaining your site is not their full-time job. So, when something goes wrong or you need to make a change, you might be on your own. It’s actually how quite a few clients find us — looking for help when their “side job” designer disappears. 

Your site should be a living, breathing, evolving tool for your business. If you keep a site current (in both content and backend programming) you can extend the life of your site, putting off the expense and hassle of a relaunch. But that takes the kind of ongoing attention and fast, on-demand support you’re going to get from a full-time professional. 

7. Current Trends

For a website to work well for a business and generate leads, it should engage the visitor. If you want extra functionality, you might not be able to get that from a do-it-yourself solution. The right web team stays up to date on what’s trending in web design and what new widgets and integrations could make your site more useful to your visitors, and to you!

For Carbon County Child Development Programs, for example, we added a Facebook messenger tool to their homepage (see figure 3). The widget invites people to interact with the staff using a tool that’s simple and familiar to both visitors and program employees.

Websites for Small Businesses 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Hire Your Cousin

3: Facebook Messenger integration encourages visitors to start a conversation with program staff.

Another growing trend is the use of exit-intent popups to engage users right before they leave the site. The tool can sense when visitors are moving their mouse to close the window and activates an exit-intent dialog box. Popups aren’t all bad and used judiciously these can be a great way to help readers find useful content. 

It’s Not a Brochure

Your website can be so much more than a brochure. Part of building a website is thinking through how to engage your audience and convert them to leads. The other part is making sure your site is built appropriately and securely to function well on the web.

If you use an agency, you get holistic, experienced support from programming to design, SEO and content marketing — all in one package. Wipfli helps with big-picture issues like site design, architecture and clear navigation. And, we’ll cover the details like content tags, effective calls-to-action and all the other bonus features that keep people engaged.

Drop us a line to discuss your website.

[1] Gitte Lindgaard, Gary Fernandes, Cathy Dudek & J. Brown, “Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression!”, Journal of Behaviour & Information Technology, March 2006, accessed May 2019.


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Wipfli Editorial Team

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