This is perhaps an unusual, possibly unwise, position for a website designer to take, but I’m going to tell you why I believe small businesses should manage their own websites.
Many web designers and developers rely on ongoing editing and updating work that clients outsource to them long after the website has been built. Perhaps I’m different because I began my career in Marketing, responsible for managing a large company website with the assistance of developers. This meant I never needed to raise purchase orders and justify the cost when the website crashed or simply needed a new page added.
I sat with developers and designers and I worked with them to keep the company website functioning at its best. I’m one of those curious types who need to understand how everything works and why certain decisions are made so I asked a lot of questions. My speciality was copywriting and branding, but I learnt SEO, design basics and even some of the technical knowledge through working with experts in these fields.
Later, when I launched my small business, there was no way I could afford to outsource the care of my website. So I brushed up on my skills and filled in the gaps in my knowledge. Now, in addition to copywriting, I design websites for clients. Yet, because I understand small businesses, from both sides, I do not advocate ongoing outsourcing of your website post-launch. I suppose what I learnt in-house, was that whatever happened and whoever else was involved, I was ultimately responsible. I also discovered that nothing was as complicated as it seemed. Which isn’t to downplay the skills of web developers. The point is, if you are a very large business then you may need a bespoke site built. Yet, if you are a small business then we are now fortunate enough to have access to platforms like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace where it is possible to build and manage your website yourself.
Can you build your small business website yourself?
The simple answer is yes. I’ve had former clients ask me, ‘if you’re going to build my site on WIX (or some other platform) then what’s the difference in doing it myself?’
It’s a fair and expected question. The answer is this - over 10 years of experience in SEO, UX design and call-to-action focused copy, to name just a few. The truth is that most people can create a functional and pleasing website by watching a few youtube videos and going through the online tutorials available. Still, you can usually tell the difference between an amateur website and a professional one, even when they’re built on the same platform. Your website serves as a shop window - a checking point for your potential clients or customers where they may decide whether to invest in your products or services. So, even with the rise of social media reputation, your website needs to look great. This is why I do recommend getting a professional to build your website (with lots of guidance and input from you).
Should Small Businesses Manage Their Own Websites?
This is a very personal decision and there are a number of factors to consider, including how much time you have and how willing you are to learn.
Generally, because your website is your shop window, I believe small businesses should manage their own websites. If you want to change the window dressing you should be able to. As you would in a real shop. If you want to change the wording you should feel as confident doing this on your website as you would on your LinkedIn profile.
Some aspects of website editing and management might sound very complex, but the truth is that they can be learned in one-to-one training sessions specific to your business and business goals. I know this because it’s something I do. Click here to find out more. I strongly believe in empowering business owners to manage their own websites. Why? Because it’s your business and when you change direction or add new services or products, your website should be the first port of call. Why leave that vital communication to someone else?
However, it’s true that on a website there are more things to consider. For instance, if you change the wording then how do you know if you’ve affected your SEO ranking.
How Important is SEO?
What many clients don’t know though is that many web developers don’t include SEO in their services. As a note, this is something you should always ask when you hire a website developer/designer, and if they don’t it is something you should consider outsourcing separately. What good is a great looking website if it doesn’t show up in Google searches? I can’t tell you the number of websites I’ve seen the backend of, only to have to tell my client that their developer did not connect the site to Google. The trouble is, SEO and web development are very different skill sets.
I know that SEO sounds incredibly complex and experts get paid well because SEO is an ever-changing minefield. You’ll probably not learn anywhere near what these professionals know. Yet, it is possible to learn what you need to know for your own business. I can help you build a strategy and teach you how to implement it well enough that you’ll be able to do so if you add additional pages to your website yourself. Find out more.
How Can You Successfully Manage Your Own Website After Build?
If you are going to manage your own website, then here are a few last thoughts and pieces of advice:
Take a course or do some training - One of the main advantages of platforms like Wix and Shopify is that they have great guides and help centres. Yet, you can’t be reading through all of this or waiting on hold every time you edit your site. Invest in some training, preferably video-based or one-to-one.
Check your website every month and pretend you are a user. Does everything make sense? Is it clear what the business does? Can you see where to buy/enquire/book? How many clicks does it take to get you to where you might need to be?
Go through the back end or admin section of your website regularly. Is all information filled in? Those business details and descriptions are important.
Ask for feedback - Not just from your friends and family but from those who don’t have a vested interest in telling you what you might want to hear. Try joining some business groups. Small business owners are great because, despite how busy most of us are, they’re very likely to help one another out. It’s always wise to seek feedback from an array of people to get a 360-degree view of your website.
Ms Marketing Website, SEO & Training Services:
If you are launching a business and need a website, but would like to combine this with marketing and website management training, then please check out my New Business Set-Up Package
If you have a website but would like help improving it, as well as some training on how to manage it and get the most out of it, then please see my Marketing Makeover Package