4 Reasons Not to Develop Your New Website In-House

Here’s why you need outside help for your web development project.

Your website needs an update. You’ve known it all year—maybe longer—but you’ve been putting it off. With all the other projects you have going, it hasn’t seemed like a top priority. But now the situation is dire enough that you’re ready to invest funds and energy into a new website. The question is, where do you start?

You have a marketing department. You have an IT department. Surely, between the two of them, you should have the knowledge resources to build a new website for your business, right?

Probably not.

While websites seem like an overlap between those two departments, they actually involve a lot of specialized knowledge that your office may not possess. Your marketing department may have press releases, the email newsletter, and print mailers covered, but none of them has kept up to date with the recent developments in SEO.

And as for your IT department, their job is to keep your software up to date, replace old hardware, and protect your system from security threats. They may know a lot about hardening your system against the latest ransomware attack, but they don’t know a thing about web development.

So, at this point, you have two options: acquire more staff to handle your website, or hire an agency to manage the project for you. Many businesses want to close their skill gap by bringing a web coding specialist on their team. But the reality is, hiring new staff is expensive, and it’s unlikely one person will bring all the skills necessary to complete the job. Here’s why hiring a web development agency is a better choice.

1. Agencies have a broader skill set.

Here are the various skills you need in order to create a professional website:

Web Developer.

Content management systems like WordPress (which we use) make it far easier for non-coders to update and manage a website. But they don’t replace web developers. Unless you’re planning to use a template with only superficial adjustments, you will need someone with coding skills to build your website.

Web Designer.

Not a graphic designer. The skillsets of graphic and web designers overlap, but not completely. Many a well-intentioned graphic designer has fallen into trouble by approaching web design under the assumption that it’s just like print work. It’s not: websites aren’t static; fonts won’t read the same way on screens as they do on paper; colors will look different depending on the monitor, etc. If all you’ve ever done is print, you’re going to have a problem. You need web design experience to build a website.

Project Manager.

You know the value of a good project manager. They keep projects on track, help coordinate between team members, review work and pass it on to the key decision makers. A good project manager acts as a cushion between the creatives on the project and everyone else. They give the creatives space to get their work done while also representing the interests of the company and/or the client.

Content Strategist.

It’s not just the copywriting you need. Your website has a job to do: make sales, convert leads, represent your brand. That means you need someone with excellent writing skills, a head for marketing, a working knowledge of on-page SEO, and an intuitive grasp of how websites and content work together to accomplish their ultimate purpose.

SEO Expert.

Everyone these days has heard about SEO. They know it’s something they need (true) but they don’t often know what it is (bad). Almost everyone on your web building team should have a working knowledge of SEO, but you still need someone who can bring it all together. Oh, and they need to be on top of the most recent update to Google’s search algorithm.

 

Do you have all these various skill sets on you staff already? Because at an agency, you have access to every one of them. But you’re only paying for as much time as each of them spends on your project.

2. Your employees are busy on other projects.

Your in-house team has their hands full already. They have network updates to install, brochure designs to send to the printer, and a publicity campaign to plan. You’ve kept your team busy all year on these projects, which is part of why you haven’t had a chance to think about your website. You might be experiencing a lull right now, but that break is temporary. As soon as the slow season passes, you’re going to be up to your ears in work again, and your website is going to move to the back burner… again.

The problem is, the longer you delay in getting this project finished, the more money you lose. Websites, when managed properly, are your best sales tool. If you hire an agency, that team commits to finishing your project in a certain time period. And they have the resources to deliver as promised. When you take that project in-house, you’re likely to see it postponed and deprioritized for months. This time next year you’ll be looking at a half-finished site, wondering why you went through all this trouble instead of going with an agency in the first place.

3. We’re up-to-date with the industry.

People get set in their ways. They learn how to do a thing once, and then keep doing it that same because that’s what works for them. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well… but this is the Internet.

You may have a marketer with over a dozen years of experience who can write a killer advertising hook at the drop of the hat. But if their experience with the Internet is ten years old, then it predates smart phones, Facebook, and almost every SEO best practice I know.

Similarly, if your IT expert is still hand-coding your site, then you’re missing out on all the advantages a content management system like WordPress has to offer. And we already covered the problems of graphic vs. web design.

Over the course of every year, the web development industry undergoes drastic changes. Design trends come and go (drop shadows? Ghost buttons? Flat design?). New technology arrives. New web security protocols emerge. Those of us who work in this industry have to keep up with every one of these developments. It’s a matter of survival.

Your in-house team knows you. That’s their main advantage. But you need the people who know you to start talking with the people who know the industry. That’s where an agency can help.

4. We’re cheaper than handling it in-house.

We’re used to a certain amount of sticker shock in the web industry. Many businesses see websites being offered “for free” on hosted platforms such as Wix or Squarespace, and that sets an unrealistic price anchor in their minds. They realize that they need to pay for a website, but their estimate is low—somewhere in the hundreds or low thousands. When they realize an agency website can cost in the tens of thousands, suddenly they turn back to their in-house options. Why not turn the task over to someone they’re already paying a salary?

But think about that for a second: you hired that person to do something completely different, and paid them a salary accordingly. A salary in the tens of thousands. Their time is already spoken for. Diverting some of that time toward working on the website means that the work you originally hired them to do is no longer being done. And since creating websites isn’t their specialty, they’re going to take longer and deliver a less satisfactory result than an agency.

And it doesn’t matter if this task falls on one or several people. Unless you have a project manager, a web designer, a web developer, a copywriter, and an SEO expert on staff with hours and hours of time on their hands that isn’t already devoted to other tasks, you’re not saving money by bringing your project in-house.

We can work with your in-house team.

Our priority on a website project is to make sure the website we create represents your brand and accomplishes your business objectives. You and your team are a crucial component of that process.

But you don’t need to handle that work alone. We can come alongside your team, listen to your current and future goals, and work with you to create a website that aligns with those objectives. And when we do, we’ll be bringing to bear all our collective expertise.

Working with an agency is not about replacing your in-house team. It’s about making sure they can focus on what they do best and letting us handle what we do best.

It’s a partnership. You wouldn’t want anything less.

Published 12/14/17 by Laura Lynch