To Hire a Web Developer or Make Your Own Site?

One of the most common questions I get from entrepreneurs rearing to get their business started comes up the second we start talking websites. To outsource and hire a developer / designer or to suck it up and learn how to code?
That is the question, and 9 times out of 10 this is the flowchart that explains the logic behind my answer.

  1. How familiar are you with how the Internet works?
  2. Hosting, domain names, HTML and CSS? If these terms mean nothing to you, you might have quite a learning curve ahead of you. That’s okay as long as you’re willing to spend some time sitting down sifting through things.

    If you want to learn to code there are tons of courses (both free and paid, virtual and in person) that can help you along the way. It also helps to have someone who knows code so you can call them up when you have trouble.

  3. What is the nature of your business?
  4. Do you operate purely online, and therefore require dynamic pages that execute things more complicated than your standard brochureware or e-commerce functionality? If so, you probably want to hire someone to do the heavy lifting or you’re going to have to learn a lot of code before you can get to the point where something is worth adopting.

  5. How much time and/or interest do you have?
  6. Learning how to code, like sport, takes time and practice. You can dip your toes in and get by with the basics, but there’s a significant difference between tapping through tutorials and coding in the real world. If you want to learn to code, go after it. I recommend starting with WordPress, where the community is dense and not a lot of work is required if you’re okay with a template.

    If you don’t have time or interest, on the other hand, then find someone you can trust to build something for you. Ask them to accommodate in a way that allows you to make rudimentary site updates when necessary, and spend some time communicating with them exactly what it is you want for your site. The better you can convey your idea (wireframes, sketches, actual words, etc), the closer your site will look to your original idea.

About the author: Entrepreneur with ten years of experience running a digital marketing agency out of New York City. I work with startups and brands such as Virgin Airlines, L2 Inc (Gartner), American Express, Fabletics, LOFT, and more. When I’m not helping companies increase their audience and revenues, I love to travel, sail, and read. I also moonlight as a bartender at a classic cocktail bar.

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