So Can I Just Build My Own Website?
Yes. You absolutely can. Get the right theme or template and go ahead. There are plenty of free, online tutorials to help you out.
But it may cost you.
Seltzer Creative Group is really good at creating websites, and it takes us somewhere between 20-40 labor hours to create a small one. Granted, our sites are complex and elegant and delightful, and your site may not be any of those things, but that’s subjective. Still, if you’ve never done it before, chances are it will take you at least that long. Building your site will cost you about the equivalent of a week of your own labor.
Also, despite every platform saying that you don’t need to know HTML or CSS to build a website, it’s worth remembering that Ikea claims you don’t need a power drill or a set of tools to assemble anything either.
That’s why for most businesses, hiring a web designer is a pretty easy decision. If you’re a lawyer billing at $400 per hour, building a site instead of taking cases would cost you $16,000. Hiring a designer is a no brainer.
There are exceptions. If you’re a restauranteur who just needs to put up a something that lets customers find your menu, there are easy-to-use templates for just this purpose. Stick to the model and you might get it launched in less than a day. Why spend the money?
The hardest scenario to figure is the start-up. If you take a week of labor hours to build a site, how much is that going to set you back? Maybe you’ve got more time than money. Maybe you’ve got more money than time. If you’re reasonably tech savvy, and you think that developing your website will help you focus and refine your ideas, go ahead. But if you spend a week trying to build a site, and it stinks, and then you have to hire someone to create a new one, you’ve cost yourself the designer’s fee plus whatever a week of your own time is worth.
This is purely subjective. Even on this site, which is purely subjective, this is double subjective. But you asked.
I think SquareSpace is the best choice for the beginner. Its feature set is limited, and its interface can be frustrating to learn. However, its tools work well, and it’s possible to create a decent looking site without any HTML or CSS knowledge. Moreover, it’s hard to screw up too badly. Even a poorly constructed site will work.
Wix is easier to learn, but it creates sloppier websites. I’ve never had somebody show me a Wix site without apologizing for it first.
WordPress is the most powerful platform, but the hardest to learn. Most amateurs buy a theme, and then stick to the theme’s framework to build their first site. However, that framework may fit awkwardly around the edges, which is why so many first-time WordPress sites look like a teenage boy wearing their dad’s suit. I love WordPress, but to get the most out of it, you really need Web development skills.