So you think you can build your own website, do ya?
Do It Yourself Web Design
Mashable posted a blog with 5 very low cost web design services that let's anyone build a website. As a developer of fairly high-end websites (that cost plenty more than the services that they referenced), I figured I should check it out, as this is in some ways, 'the competition.' As I'm sitting there going through these sites thinking, "Why on Earth will people pay us orders of magnitude more for a website when they can use these admitedly refined interfaces for a couple of bucks a month? Am I in the wrong business???" But it dawned on me by the end of the article. I'm not going to lose any sleep.
Tools do not an artisan make!
These low-cost services provide users with the TOOLS to develop their site. But giving someone a toolset to build a killer website is analagous to handing someone a hammer and assuming they can build a house. Tools only help if you know what to do with them. And no where in the offerings of these low-end web site services will you find someone who will evaluate your business, come up with the goals and objectives, and then figure out what features and functions you need to accomplish those objectives. You won't be able to pick up the phone and ask someone which is the better keyword phrase. And no one is going to review all your content and tell you that you need a unifying theme that serves as your unique business proposition so that you don't blend into the sea of competition.
Effective sites are about website strategy. Not HTML and free templates.
Effective websites aren't really about a bunch HTML, XML, PHP or other web jargon. Effective websites are about business. About goals and objectives and meeting them. Effecitve websites are the manifestation of a well-thought-out strategy. The tools and methods by which the site comes together--that's the easy part. And that's why these online services can sell them for a few bucks a month. But strategy isn't included. And it's that strategy that firms like ours provide. So until these low-end toolkit services figure out a magical way to systematically figure out your business and plot an online strategy for it, methinks my job is safe.