Why Most DIY Web Design Projects Fail

You need to have a website. There’s no other way to build a successful business in the modern era. But if you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship, you’re quickly going to realize that your website’s design, development, and maintenance are not easy decisions to make.

Do you hire a professional web designer to put together a layout for your website, paying thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege? Or do you try to put together a website on your own with an investment of time only?

DIY web design is certainly appealing, and for more reasons than just the low-cost basis – but most DIY web design projects inevitably fail.

Why is this the case, and can you prevent it?

The High-Level View

Before we can understand the reason why so many DIY web projects fail, we need to understand “failure.” What does it mean for a website to fail?

There are several potential failure points. First, most people want their website to be functional, present their brand in a positive light, and ultimately persuade visitors to take action – like buying a product or filling out a form. Because of this, a website could conceivably fail in any number of ways, such as providing a horrible user experience and ruining the reputation of the brand, suffering catastrophic losses from a cyberattack, or just dealing with a permanently low conversion rate.

Why Most DIY Web Design Projects Fail

The simplest answer is because of inexperience.

There’s a lot to learn about effective web design and development, from the essential components of website operation to the latest trends in user experience. However, if you don’t understand these elements and you try to piece together a website from scratch, even the best web builder in the world isn’t going to help you surmount the obstacles you’ll face.

In other words, inexperience leads to a bad design, leading to bad results.

The Allure of DIY Web Design

It’s no wonder why DIY web design is so appealing. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s much less expensive than designing a website from scratch with an agency.

These days, it’s also easy. There are dozens, or even hundreds of free website builders that promise the experience of designing an effective website in a matter of minutes. Thanks to WYSIWYG editors and helpful guides, even an amateur can get something up and running.

On top of that, DIY web design gives you much more transparency and control over the development of your website. If you’re new to the world of web design, or if you’ve had a bad experience with pro designers in the past, you might be skeptical about what happens on the backend – or you might just want more autonomy over the process.

The Problems With DIY Web Design

DIY web design also tends to be a problem because of the sheer number of things that can go wrong.

For example:

  • CMS platforms and choices. There are dozens of viable web builders out there, and hundreds of options for your content management system (CMS). Some of these platforms are objectively and completely better than others. Most of them have unique strengths and weaknesses worth considering; they may be perfect for one type of business, but practically useless for another. The time it takes to exhaustively research every possible CMS, weigh their pros and cons, and come down on the right decision is significant – and it’s not something you can afford to ignore. If you end up with the “wrong” CMS, it could cause a massive ripple effect.
  • Cybersecurity issues. Cybercrime is a massive problem you also can’t afford to ignore. Cybercriminals worldwide are constantly looking for easy opportunities to exploit people who don’t follow best practices. All it takes is a single flaw in the design and development of your website, such as a missing patch, a corrupted file, or a lax password, to ultimately compromise your security. If you don’t know what you’re doing, one of these vulnerabilities will undoubtedly rear its head – and it’s only a matter of time before it affects you.
  • Templates and resulting problems. It’s natural to gravitate toward template-based designs if you don’t have much experience or want the fastest and easiest web design solution. But templates themselves can present an array of new problems. For starters, working with a template means you won’t have as much control or flexibility as you would creating a website from scratch.
  • Core file damage (and inability to recover). What would you do if you accidentally damaged or deleted a critical, core file of your website? A skilled developer would have a backup, or they’d know how to attempt a patchwork fix. However, if you’re inexperienced and unfamiliar with this type of complication, you might end up with excessive downtime – or a totally broken site.
  • Lack of direct access to your database. Similarly, if you use a free website builder or a similar platform to construct your website, you may not directly access your database. Again, this may not be much of a problem for simple and small-scale websites. But if you run into issues down the road or want to expand your operation in the future, this lack of access can result in massive problems.
  • Improper optimization. Your website might technically work, but is it loading as quickly as your users would like? Is it being loaded properly across different operating systems and browsers? To achieve these goals, you’ll need to optimize design elements like images properly. If you don’t have the skills or technical expertise to accomplish this, you could end up with a clunky (or barely functional) site.
  • The possibility of a significant break. You might get lucky and have your website work perfectly fine, on an indefinite basis. But if it suddenly becomes impossible for a customer to buy something in your online store, your entire business model is going to collapse. More than one business has succumbed to significant losses due to extended periods of downtime. You might be able to recover and continue your business once you find the issue and correct it – but that leads to another potential problem.
  • General troubleshooting issues. If something does go wrong with your website (and given enough time; eventually it will), do you know what to do? Skilled web developers can usually track down the root cause of the problem and correct it quickly. But with minimal experience backing you, you might be completely unable to resolve the problem on your own. At the very least, you’ll need to hire a professional to help you figure out what’s going on – and that can compromise your otherwise low-cost basis.
  • Inability to scale. Finally, building your own website means you won’t have as much flexibility to scale. Most introductory web builders and simple web design tools aren’t made to support large-scale sites with complex functionality and substantial user bases.

Design Isn’t Everything

It’s also worth noting that design isn’t everything. Even if you manage to put together a functional and beautiful website on your own, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be a success. You’ll still need to optimize the site for conversions, invest in marketing and advertising, and continue promoting the site as it grows. It’s certainly possible to DIY everything here – but it’s not easy.

For the most part, DIY web design projects are doomed to fail, in one way or another. The good news is that there are many potential solutions.

You could, for example, invest enough time and effort studying the fundamentals of web design and development to become an expert in your own right. But for most entrepreneurs looking to create a website from scratch, it’s easier to work with a professional agency.

Image Credit: Kaboompics; Pexels; Thank you!

Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach — preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter

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