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Boston Web Design

January 16, 2014

Small Business

Tips & Tricks

Web Design

Search Engine Optimization


It’s the beginning of a new year, and hopefully you have some resolutions for your online marketing. It may be to blog more, work on your SEO, or maybe even completely redo your website. If yours is the ladder, you should know what your options are, and why a DIY website may not be the best fit for you.

This blog post is more than an obvious attempt to create some relevant content for the keywords “Boston Web Design“. It speaks to what makes using a local web design firm a better option than the DIY sites. Much like this blog post, the home page of Yelling Mule says “Boston Web Design” in a large font right at the top. We want people to know right away what we do, and that we’re a local company. Local means you can walk into our office and discuss your project, call a 617 phone number and speak to someone right away, and maybe even run into us at a networking event or bar down the street.

With all these commercials on TV and radio it may be tempting to use one of those do-it-yourself drag and drop web design services. From a business standpoint it makes sense, right? They’re cheap, they claim to be effective, and they even promise that your site will be found in search engines. I’m going to explain why each of those points aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

They’re Cheap

Yes, the do-it-yourself websites are much cheaper than a custom designed website. But this comes at a cost. As you’re browsing the templates to choose from, you have to remember that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people looking at that sample template. In an ever increasingly crowded internet, do you want your site to look the as your competition? Even if you do find a completely unique template, chances are it isn’t exactly what you need. The colors may not be the same as your branding or the home page may have four buckets when you only have content for three, forcing you to fill that bucket with useless copy. These sites are also hosted on that companies servers, running on their proprietary software, meaning if you want to move your site off of their services you’re out of luck; it’s stuck there. When you stop paying that monthly fee your website vanishes into thin air. With a custom designed site it’s built on an open-source framework that can be moved to a new server in a matter of minutes. The design, code, photos and every aspect of the site belongs to you.

They’re Effective

Although the templates may have been designed for professionals (Sometimes they’re not, trust me! I’ve seen some disasters out there.), they weren’t designed for YOU. Yes, there are general guidelines for a website: logo usually goes in the top left, the top right should contain a call to action and way to get in touch with you, and there is a maximum width to work on all size monitors. Beyond that more thought should go into your site. What is the overall goal of your site? To generate leads? To sell a product? To get users to download an eBook? Depending on what your goal is, the design of your site can vary quite a bit. You shouldn’t be forced into a flow of a site because you like the colors of a template. In our Discovery Phase we don’t even get to colors until the overall layout and flow of your site is determined. We determine what the overall goal of your site is, and then the goal of every page on the site, and design with those goals in mind.

You’ll Be Found in Search Engines

This may be the claim that bothers me the most. Yes, they likely make sure your site is indexed, and that if you search for your exact business name your site will show up, but going beyond that is very unlikely. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a very complicated and expensive process. It involves writing SEO friendly copy, page titles, descriptions and URLs. When they advertise the free or $10 / month websites that include SEO they fail to mention that adding real SEO can cost hundreds per month. With a custom designed site your code is written correctly so it’s optimized for search engines, you have the control to customize your URLs to SEO friendly ones, and you can easily update your page titles and descriptions. We will also provide you with guidelines for writing copy for SEO, do keyword research to determine your top keywords, and guidelines for blogging for SEO. Best part is since we don’t give away our sites we don’t have to make up the lost money and charge an absurd amount for our SEO services!

So there you have it, a very biased view on DIY websites. But biased or not, all of the horror stories I’ve heard are true, and the new clients I’ve gotten who used to use DIY services and got burnt are real.

Do you have any stories about DIY websites? Share them in the comments!