Do you need a web developer to build your website?

Do you need a web developer?

I want to challenge you.


A small business has fundamental digital needs. You likely need a website to sell, display and service customers. You need to raise awareness of your products and services by talking with potential customers (and existing customers) on social media as well as having others talk about you, and your business needs to show up when someone searches on a search engine like Google or Bing.

You, as the business owner need control of this, and to use your web analytics to know what’s working and what’s not and make the changes as you gain the insights into your online business success.

Instead of hiring a web developer and spending your digital budget to build a website you may be better off building your website using a cloud based service. 

For a fraction of the cost of building a website with your developer you can get .....

You can build a website with a blog and commenting, that auto-publishes to your social platforms, is connected - to your email service like Mailchimp, to your web analytics to tell you which channel is working best and to a database in the background to capture all the important things you need to know about your customer to help service them as best you can.

Your site can have a click to chat service like Zen Desk so you can interact with your customers from your mobile phone as you walk the dog, and a shopping cart that will allow you to generate invoices formatted just as you need them, and control your inventory letting you know when stock is running low on a particular item.

You might also be interested in '5 tools to build a website for less than $120'

All of this is possible without a web developer.

The quiet revolution of cloud based services is changing the world of small business and digital.

The best spend for web developers 

Today, using one of the range of freelancer sites out there you can hire a web developer for not a lot of money. If you take the approach that you'll use a cloud based service and build the basics yourself, you can then use your budget for the more complex things that you want to achieve like: 

  • integrating different digital services so that they talk with each other
  • specific functionality that can't be achieved out of the box with a cloud service
  • tweaking and refining your template design
  • specific call to actions
  • getting your tracking in place for all events/activities on your website. 

Web developers can do all this and more, but when they are engaged to build a website, you don't necessarily get all of these things because the base budget is taken up with pretty standard website set up activity. 

What's more when you hire a web developer you're not hiring them to think about best design and structure of your site. So quite often I've seen perfectly great websites built that just don't deliver any conversions because they haven't been designed and structured to meet your customer's needs. 

Benefits of cloud services

There's a lot of benefits of using a cloud based service, mostly because you get access to a large research and development budget that you could never afford as a small business. Think about these things:

  • you can have functionality and tools that previously were out of your price range
  • you can make any changes or updates that you want to your website at NO cost to you
  • all hosting guff is part of your subscription/licensing cost ie. no additional hosting costs, no cost to monitor, no cost to apply server patches etc
  • most of these types of services come with great servicing so it's easy to trouble shoot - without additional costs
  • a continual upgrade path - after all it's in the interest of these cloud services to keep on trend so that they stay in business. If they don't then it's easy to pick a competitor who is doing it better 
  • frees up your upfront investment amount that you would have spent on the website development from your budget so you can redirect it to other activities that will help bring the all important traffic to your website.

What's the down side?

  • Compromise is likely. You can't get away from the fact that there will be limitations with these types of services. Let's take click to chat as an example. There may well be limitations on branding and display or some of the follow up activities that are associated with it. You may need to modify some of your processes to make it fit your business. However, as a small business it's unlikely that you would have the sizable development budget needed to develop this type of functioanlitly from scratch so you'll need to decide if the compromise is acceptable as part of your online efforts to grow your business. 
  • Data is not held locally. This may or may not be a concern. If you're Australian based in finance or health care, then this will be an issue, but for most businesses, it won't be and some care with your Privacy policy and Terms of Use and being  upfront about what you do with data received should keep you on the right side of privacy laws in Australia.

To finish up 

Before you commit to a web developer, do the sums. Take a look at the wide range of cloud based services out there and do the exercise. Compare the cost of using cloud based services and what you can 'get' versus the cost of the same set of services from a web developer.  Be sure that you do indeed need a web developer for your business and that's there's not another way to divvy up your budget.