Do a Google search on this and unsurprisingly the echo is a universal: YES. The chorus is from the usual suspects, peddling their website consultancy services. Self-evidently there are good reasons for having a website, but there’s plenty reasons why you should reflect before you click: Gimme a site!
You don’t have time.
In my experience if you don’t have much time to plan, to design and update your website it will either never happen or become a pointless calling card. If you must embark on a DIY website project, then make time to write a plan, to think about design, to consider your public persona, to learn some techie stuff. If you think changing the default placeholder text and headers or adding your own images is challenging, then you must be prepared to take even more time out to learn. Even 3 pages can be daunting if you’re new to it all and don’t plan for frequent updates. And why learn of all of this stuff that you are not going to use? Or have to re-learn, time and again?
Even if you are getting a so-called technical person to do your website for you you will still need plenty time to discuss with them your ambitions and plans, approve content, and keep on top of both the development process and future maintenance and updates. (Alas it is no more likely to happen if you outsource the project.) Do you really want to write a piece in Word that takes less than 20 minutes, but then wait a week for someone technical to upload it to the web?
You don’t have a budget.
If you have a bit of technical background, an eye for design, a dab hand at DIY, AND have time, this objection does not really hold. In practice a small budget can go a hellova long way, perhaps you planning on printing something – think again. The budget maybe needed for
- design, even if it is a cheap off the shelf-template;
- installing & configuring / modifying software, because you lack time to learn how to do the really difficult stuff;
- for developing / writing your content, because you’ve never really had to do this before or writing for the web just isn’t your bag;
- new pictures, because you don’t want to look unprofessional;
- someone train and mentor you, because that thick manual looks so daunting.
How small? £100 may buy you a template or a small bit of design work or a piece of software to do extraordinary things. £350 might get a you a site well-tailored to your immediate needs, or some nice design work and some helpful hand-holding. £1000 might get you a fully fledged shopping site or your own template designed. £2500 will get you a completely bespoke design and a nice new functionality. £more will buy you more but not necessarily better. If you are looking for comprehensive day to day backup and rapid answers to support questions to manage your site, then expect to pay a significant amount extra.
You are not ready/don’t have a plan.
While this sounds easy to remedy, in most cases lack of a direction will frustrate progress. Related to this is lack of authority to proceed, an indeterminate or indefinite timescale, and an inability to summarise your project proposition succinctly e.g. you can obsess all you like about technical and functional requirements or usability, but if you don’t know what you want people to do when they hit your website – don’t. None of this is rocket science.
If you have got time to develop and compare options, are self-directed and disciplined, have the freedom and the authority to try things out, can work out complex plans on the back of a fag packet then all well and good. (I work this way a lot and don’t even smoke.) But this approach is not for novices.
That’s not to say you need a five year plan, nor a complex architecture of targets, milestones, and critical paths. You definitely don’t, but you will need to something to guide you. Plans will change and events will send you off course, but you probably know that. You never know though … you could end up somewhere better than anticipated.
You’ve not assessed all the options
It pays to explore some different options. Emergencies aside you ask a few tradespeople round to assess a job don’t you?
Do nothing can be so cheap. But you may pay later, in lost opportunities / business or a higher cost to make up lost ground.
Use other’s websites and platforms to publicise yourself / update your event / project.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to get others to promote your stuff. Many site owners are hungry to make their site look busy, though you may want to avoid the unnecessary or uncritical repetition of information that is already widely available. Or for them to get publicity for your very interesting project.
Use radio, local press and posters and leaflets. Can be surprisingly effective and maybe picked up on the web.
Facebook pages are quick and dirty (as in a bit ugly) to setup. They provide a lot of simple functionality that will get your internet communications up in no time. No website needed. Ideal for short term or longer lasting projects, if they don’t have to demonstrate a lasting legacy. Downside, you have to get a legal facebook account as you are not permitted to create a false identity just for your project. You didn’t know that?
Twitter? You could but be ready for active engagement, what was that about lacking time?
Get a mate who knows to help. This person has all the technical requisites to make your project happen at no cost and infinite time at their disposal to pick up where you left off, you are so busy juggling the world. You may need to ensure that he or she can communicate with you telepathically and will always be there when you need vital support. Oh yeah, they’ve infinite time at their disposal.
So when you click Gimme a site make sure you:
- make time
- get a budget
- work up a plan
- consider other options