DIY Websites vs. Professionally Designed (Part 3)

DIY Websites vs. Professionally Designed (Part 3)

Here it is, the final installment of our 3-part mini-series on “DIY” vs. Professionally Designed websites! To get you up to speed, check out Part 1 (your website’s front-end) and Part 2 (marketing & strategy) if you haven’t already.

This episode will cover some of the back-end (a.k.a. “behind-the-scenes” or “under the hood”) areas of your website. Web designers like to use an automobile analogy for websites: if you keep your car maintained and up to date, it will last a very long time.

Topics Covered:

  • Hosting & Security – What are the essentials that a site owner should know about when it comes to their hosting and site security?
  • Support & Updates – How does one keep on top of the latest trends and developments?
  • Content Management – What types of roles can a web designer play for a client? What about when other agencies like SEO or PR firms get involved?


Watch DIY vs. Pro: Part 3

Show Notes:

On Hosting & Security:

What are the essentials that a site owner should be able to do when it comes to their hosting and site security?

LM: Be sure you have really strong passwords, don’t use the same password for every site, and be sure that your host is staying current with their server software. Older server software is as much a performance issue as it is a security issue. Discount hosting providers probably won’t have updated software, because it might cause issues with some of the hundreds of websites they’re hosting on their servers.

SH: Hosting is a commodity, so what separates the discount providers from the good ones is support, backup and software. Also, be sure to have access to all your company accounts, especially if an outside agency is setting up an account for you. Agencies that know what they’re doing will always set up an account in your name, that you can control. If a company isn’t going to set you up that way, it’s a red flag.

Other points to consider:

  • Google will penalize you for slow-loading websites
  • If something goes wrong, your “front lines” are compromised, and you’re probably not qualified to figure it out
  • Backups usually aren’t included in discount hosting plans

On Support & Updates:

How do you keep on top of the latest trends and developments?

LM: We live and breathe this stuff as professionals, so there’s an efficiency that a professional can afford you when it comes to support and updates to your web presence. There’s also the benefit of intelligence that we can aggregate and interpret as professionals, that a single user won’t be able to make use of. If you don’t have knowledge of the things that are going wrong, it’s going to be a huge problem to get things fixed or updated if you don’t know where to look.

SH: The more you know about your website, even on a non-technical level, the easier it is to have a briefing you can give to a professional. You’re putting your trust and faith in having someone run your online presence, because you have a business to run. But when something goes wrong, ultimately it’s your responsibility and your reputation at stake.

Other points to consider:

  • In the world of plugins, there are literally thousands of authors, and very few standards
  • What happens when a plugin stops working?
  • How do you ensure an update isn’t going to break your site?
  • The cost of troubleshooting faulty plugins, or even altering them in design phase

On Content Management:

What types of roles can a web designer perform for their client? What are some tips and strategies when other agencies are involved as well?

LM: We have the ability to handle everything, so usually our clients will feel comfortable sending even basic updates they can make themselves. When working with agencies, we’ll help facilitate any transition to web, so it’s important to bring your web professional into the mix early on.

SH: When you have some downtime, spend some time identifying the different things you need done on your website, and find someone (or more than one person) who you can access for those small fixes. Photoshop/Graphics, basic content management, updating plugins, etc. Don’t be afraid to invest in your web presence, your customers are expecting more of you than they ever have. Finally, going through the process of understanding your website better will make you a better buyer of services.

Other points to consider:

  • Yes, it’s an advantage to be able to update content yourself now, but sometimes you just have better things to do
  • Passing off content to a pro ensures high quality
  • Working together on content management prevents “square peg, round hole” situations on new features and ideas
About Stephan Hovnanian

I own Shovi Websites, a website design and email marketing company located outside Boston. I spend my days managing websites and staying up to speed with all the latest trends across the web so you don't have to.

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