Pitfalls of DIY Website Design

Pitfalls of DIY Website Design

In recent years, the proliferation of do-it-yourself (DIY) website builders or low-cost overnight solutions has made it tempting for small business owners to design their online presence themselves. While these platforms offer simple interfaces and pre-designed templates, significant drawbacks can impact a business’s success. Small business owners should consider the pitfalls before opting for a DIY approach to a website.

Limited Customization Options

DIY website builders often need improvement in design flexibility. While they provide templates, customization options are usually restricted, making it challenging to create a unique and tailored website that reflects the brand identity of a business. Even if they do offer customization options, those options are more advanced and often out of the wheelhouse of the average SMB owner.

Inadequate Mobile Optimization

Mobile responsiveness is crucial in today’s digital landscape. DIY websites may need more mobile optimization than the platform allows, potentially driving away a significant portion of users who access websites through smartphones and tablets. Professional designers test for multiple devices, altering the layout, spacing, and more to perfect the website for various screen sizes, as well as making changes to the navigation to improve conversion.

According to StatCounter, mobile visits account for 52.7% of website visits worldwide.

Lack of Professionalism

A website is often the first point of contact between a business and its potential customers. The saying “You only get one chance to make a good impression” is appropriate here. Designing a website includes many nuances that a small business owner may miss when attempting a DIY website, but a customer will pick up quickly.

DIY websites often have poor website flow and no clear call to action. An unskilled web designer’s choices undermine the business’s credibility, frustrate visitors, and ultimately lose leads and potential customers.

Critical DIY website mistakes:

  • Font choices, line height, and font sizing
  • Inconsistent spacing of elements
  • No color theory
  • Missing key footer elements
  • Missing call to actions or mixed CTAs
  • Poor navigation and usability

Brand Consistency

Maintaining a consistent brand image across all online platforms is vital. Your website may not seamlessly integrate with other branding elements, leading to inconsistencies that can reflect on your brand and deter potential customers.

Professional web designers develop style guides to match your brand colors, fonts, and writing style or voice. Style guides are also developed to keep consistency with buttons, link colors, heading sizes, and more. There is a great deal of planning that goes on before content is added to the website.

Apple Inc. keeps a tight grip on its brand, and its success as a premier lifestyle brand is no mistake. Apple has a 56-page guide titled “Apple Identity Guidelines For Channel Affiliates and Apple-Certified Individuals” to maintain usage guidelines and brand consistency. Apple’s app developer guidelines are a beautiful example of a style guide titled “Marketing Resources and Identity Guidelines for app developers.” These documents show the complexity and care given to preserving their brand identity and brand voice.

Apple Marketing Resources and Identity Guidelines example

SEO Challenges

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for online visibility. DIY website builders offer a different level of SEO customization than solutions provided by a web design agency, especially on a technical level. Working with a professional can offer guidance and a keen eye for catching mistakes concerning local SEO and help you navigate setting up Google accounts correctly. Mistakes here have huge impacts on leads, calls, and online orders.

Fundamental DIY SEO Mistakes:

  • Pages missing or default meta information (Titles and Descriptions)
  • Inconsistent N.A.P. (Name, Address, Phone)
  • Missing key footer information like hours, phone, etc.
  • Missing Alt text for images (used for ADA compliance)
  • No clear theme or strategy for content
  • On-page text not optimized for search intent

Limited Scalability

As businesses grow, their website needs may evolve. DIY platforms may need help to accommodate a growing company’s scalability requirements, leading to a complete redesign or migration to a more robust platform in the future.

Many website builders are a closed system, with limitations for using outside marketing software for email, ecommerce, or reputation management. Website builders may limit your growth by restricting access to integrations for some of the best marketing tools available. While they offer solutions, you’re stuck with their solutions, often not the best solutions.

Time-Consuming Learning Curve

Small business owners wear multiple hats, and learning the ins and outs of a DIY website builder can be time-consuming, and the skills learned are limited to that builder. Ultimately, the results could be better, and the time spent trying to be a web designer takes away from core business activities, usually sales.

Customer Support Limitations

Website builder platforms may offer customer support, but the level of support is usually limited to chatbots and knowledge bases, and phone assistance can be limited or non-existent. On the other hand, professional web designers provide personalized support and troubleshooting tailored to the business’s specific needs.

When you have a problem, spending time in a phone tree or hovering over a chat differs from the level of response businesses generally want or need. When you finally connect, most “tech support” agents have little or no training or knowledge of the platform and utilize the same support articles you already viewd.

Avoid the Pitfalls Harry

While the allure of cost savings and quick website setup is understandable, small business owners must carefully consider the long-term impact of a DIY website design. Investing in a professional web designer can provide a customized, polished, and high-performing online presence, ultimately contributing to the business’s success in the competitive online landscape.

At Engines of Creation, we understand small business. Consider one of our website plans if you want the best of both worlds. Our monthly website plans help you avoid the pitfalls, give you the affordability of DIY with the guidance, expertise, and tools to grow your small business, and if you have questions and want to speak to a person, not a chatbot, we’re only a phone call away.

The featured image is based on the Activision game Pitfall! Developed by programmer/game designer David Crane. Released in September 1982 on the Atari Video Computer System (Atari 2600). Pitfall! and signature character, Pitfall Harry, quickly became one of the best-selling games for Activision and a key title in video game history.


Dan is the director of Search Engine Strategies at Engines of Creation. With 20+ years of experience working in Local SEO, Dan specializes in helping local businesses plan and implement strategies to grow, retain and attract more customers.

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