DIY Web Design or Professional WordPress Developer?

From rolling up your sleeves and building your own website with platforms like 1&1 and Wix, to hiring a professional WordPress developer for a customised experience, there are plenty of options.

Whether you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or someone with a passion project, a website is often an important first point of contact between you and your audience. But how do you go about creating a website? And, what is the best web design choice?

This article aims to guide you through these main contenders, weighing the pros and cons of each. We’ll delve into the world of DIY website building, explore the services offered by 1&1 and Wix, and then shift our focus and compare what a WordPress developer brings to the table. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which path suits your needs best. And if you find yourself leaning towards a custom-built website, we’re here to help you take those first steps.

WordPress Developer (illustration)
WordPress developer with cool mustche at work
Wix and 1&1 logos, two DIY website builder providers
Wix and 1&1 logos, two DIY website builder providers

DIY Website Builders: An Overview

What is DIY Website Building?

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) website building is exactly what it sounds like: you take the reins and create your own website. Platforms like 1&1 and Wix have made this process more accessible than ever, offering a range of templates and drag-and-drop features that don’t require you to be a coding wizard. It’s a hands-on approach that gives you direct control over how your website looks and functions.

1&1: A Quick Look

1&1, also known as 1&1 IONOS, is a web hosting and website builder platform that offers a variety of services, including domain registration, hosting, and website building tools. With its user-friendly interface, you can choose from a range of templates and customise them to fit your brand. It’s a solid choice for those who want a straightforward, no-fuss website without delving into the complexities of web development.

The 1&1 IONOS website builder business template
The 1&1 IONOS website builder generic business template

Wix: What You Need to Know

Wix is another popular choice in the DIY website building arena. Known for its visually appealing templates and intuitive drag-and-drop editor, Wix allows you to create a website that’s both functional and attractive. It also offers a range of add-ons and plugins, giving you the flexibility to add extra features like online booking systems, galleries, or e-commerce capabilities.

The WIX Website Builder and options for customisation
The WIX Website Builder and editor view

Benefits of DIY Website Building

Opting for a DIY approach comes with several advantages. First and foremost, it’s generally cheaper. You’re not hiring a developer, so you save on labour costs. It’s also more accessible; you can start building your website almost immediately, without the need to schedule meetings or wait for proposals. You have direct control over every aspect, from the colour scheme to the layout, allowing you to make instant changes whenever you like.

Drawbacks of DIY Website Building

However, the DIY route isn’t without its challenges. Time is a significant factor; building and maintaining a website can be time-consuming, especially if you’re learning as you go. This could divert your focus from other crucial aspects of your business. Additionally, while platforms like 1&1 and Wix offer basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) features, they are unable to provide any in-depth SEO, which can mean the difference between simply having an attractive & affordable website and having one that successfully reaches your audience. You’re also limited to the templates and features available on the platform, which might not cater to more specialised needs or set you apart from you fellow DIY website builders.

Custom Web Design and WordPress Developers

The Role of a WordPress Developer

When you’re looking for a more tailored experience that aligns perfectly with your brand and business goals, a WordPress Developer is the professional to turn to. Unlike DIY platforms, a WordPress Developer offers a bespoke service, crafting a website from scratch or customising existing templates to meet your specific needs. They bring a wealth of expertise in web development, user experience design, and crucially, search engine optimisation (SEO).

Custom web design shown on a number of devices to represent a responsive website
Custom web design shown on a number of devices to represent a responsive website

What Does Custom Web Design Entail?

Custom web design is more than just a pretty layout. It’s about creating a unique digital space that resonates with your target audience and serves your business objectives. A WordPress Developer will usually start with a consultation to understand your needs, followed by stages like wireframing, design mockups, development, and finally, launch. Each stage is an opportunity for you to provide input, ensuring the end result is truly customised.

Key Stages in Custom Web Design

  1. Consultation and Planning: This is where you and the developer discuss your goals, target audience, and any specific features you want on your site.
  2. Wireframing and Design Mockups: Before diving into coding, a visual representation or ‘wireframe’ is created. This serves as a blueprint for your website’s structure.
  3. Development: This is the coding phase where your website is actually built. A WordPress Developer will use various programming languages like HTML, CSS, and PHP to bring the design to life.
  4. Testing and Launch: Before going live, the website undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it’s functional, user-friendly, and optimised for search engines.
  5. Ongoing Maintenance: Websites are not a ‘set and forget’ asset. They require regular updates and maintenance, something a WordPress Developer can continue to assist with.

The Advantages of Hiring a Professional

One of the most significant benefits of hiring a WordPress Developer is the expertise they bring, especially in SEO. A well-optimised website can significantly improve your online visibility, driving more organic traffic your way. You also save time, allowing you to focus on what you do best—running your business. Moreover, a custom-built website can scale with your business, adapting to new needs and challenges as they arise.

Custom Features and Business Process Integration

Beyond the custom “look & feel,” a WordPress Developer can also offer tailored features and integrations that can significantly benefit your business processes. Whether it’s a unique booking system, an integrated CRM, or a specialised e-commerce setup, a WordPress Developer has the skills to implement these custom features seamlessly into your website. This level of customisation can automate workflows, improve customer interactions, and ultimately, enhance your business operations. This is where a website becomes more than just a website, but a customer facing tool that enhances your business process.

Website domain being entered into a browser
Website domains, email hosting and website hosting

Beyond Web Design: Hosting, Domain, and Email

The Unavoidable Costs: Web Hosting

Whether you opt for a DIY approach or hire a WordPress Developer, one cost that often gets overlooked is web hosting. Hosting is essentially the ‘rental’ space where your website lives on the internet. Both 1&1 and Wix offer hosting as part of their packages, but the costs can vary depending on the level of service you choose. When working with a WordPress Developer, you’ll also need to consider hosting fees, which can range from basic shared hosting to more robust dedicated servers.

Domain Name: Your Online Identity

Another essential yet sometimes forgotten expense is the domain name. This is the web address where visitors can find your site, like ‘YourBusiness.com’. While some DIY platforms offer free subdomains, a custom domain name adds professionalism and is easier for customers to remember. The cost of a domain name varies but is usually an annual fee.

Email Hosting: Professional Communication

Lastly, let’s not forget about email hosting. Having a custom email address that matches your domain name (e.g., info@YourBusiness.com) enhances your brand’s credibility. Some web hosting packages include email hosting, but others might require a separate plan. Either way, it’s an additional cost that’s important for maintaining a professional image.

SSL Certificates: A Small but Important Detail

Another cost to consider is the SSL certificate, which encrypts the data between your website and its visitors, providing an extra layer of security. While some DIY platforms like 1&1 and Wix may charge a small fee for this service, it’s worth noting that free SSL certificates are also available. However, the process of installing a free SSL certificate can be a bit more technical. Regardless, an SSL certificate is a crucial component for any website today, not just for security but also for SEO benefits.

Why These Costs Matter: Avoiding Hidden Surprises

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of building a new website and overlook some of the less glamorous, yet essential, costs involved. Not being fully informed about these additional expenses can lead to the unpleasant feeling of encountering ‘hidden’ costs down the line. The reality is, these costs can vary significantly—from super affordable options to premium services that can be quite expensive.

Understanding these costs upfront allows you to make a more informed decision and weigh up whether you’re truly getting value for money. Don’t find yourself locked into an unfavourable deal simply because you weren’t aware of all the costs involved. You’re entitled to shop around for hosting services, domain name providers, and email hosting plans to find the best fit for your budget and needs.

Check out our website packages that combine all of these features into a simple monthly cost

Conclusion: Finding Your Path

In summary, both DIY website builders like 1&1 and Wix and professional services from a WordPress Developer have their merits. Your choice often comes down to the scope of your project and your specific circumstances. Whether you’re looking for a quick, cost-effective solution or a customised, scalable website, it’s crucial to be aware of all the associated costs, from hosting to domain names, to make an informed decision.

At the end of the day, there’s a place for both approaches in the digital world. If you’re still unsure which path is best for you, we’d be more than happy to discuss your project and goals to help you get started on the journey that’s right for you.

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About the author

I'm Joseph D'Souza, an experienced .NET developer with a speciality in Umbraco and WordPress development. My professional journey began in 2010, when I graduated with a degree in computer science. Since then, I've navigated the web development world, honing my skills as a full-stack developer across front-end, back-end, and database design.Today, I'm proud to be the Director of Alpha Labs, a leading web development firm based in High Wycombe. I use my broad expertise in various web development technologies to deliver high-quality, user-centric web solutions, setting Alpha Labs apart in this fast-paced digital world.

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