As a website designer (aka website doula…) I get the calls from the doulas who are ready to throw in the towel after months of wasted time trying to figure out whatever website platform they have chosen. I get the calls from the doulas whose websites have been live for a year and haven’t resulted in any new clients.
These are the birth pros who breathe a deep sigh of relief when we talk and they learn that the site they have been stuck at 6cm with for ages, will now come to life within weeks!
SHOULD YOU BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE?
For some birth pros, DIY website design is a Great fit. I’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous and highly effective websites created by birth and postpartum pros. Sometimes you need to jump in and give it a try to know if the DIY design choice is the right fit for you. Still, there are some important criteria for you to consider that will help you make an informed choice:
How soon do you want to launch your practice?
Are you willing to set aside the X months you need to build your website when you could already have a website that is working hard to find you new clients? Keep in mind that most birth pros who build their own website find that it takes longer than they had anticipated. How many new clients would you need in the next few months to pay off the investment in paying a designer to build your site? Is it worth it to you to have your site out in the world faster? Keep in mind that any new website on the internet will take at least a month to start showing up effectively in search, and even then might be on page five of search results – especially if not properly set up.
How tech confident are you?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how tech confident are you? I’m not asking about your savvy – you don’t have to know the ins and outs of mobile design, retina displays or conversion elements on day one. What’s way more important, in my opinion, is CONFIDENCE.
Are you easily frustrated by things you don’t know how to do? Do you tend more towards feeling curious or stuck at 6cm when you don’t know how to do something? Are you willing to make mistakes, backtrack, and problem solve?
Do you have good design sensibility? (sparkly unicorns are generally not a good fit)
Good website design is about a blend of beauty and functionality. The reality is that not all of us have a developed artistic side that leads to good design and/or the ability to design content flow in an effective way. After all, the goal of a website is to get new clients!
If you have limited confidence in this realm, building your own website might not be the right fit for you. If you, in contrast, have a strong design vision and the artistic confidence to put it all together, then building your own site is more likely to be a good fit for you. You need to be sure you have a clear sense of the flow you want site visitors to follow to transform into paying clients for your site to be effective.
What is the true cost of your DIY website?
Along with considering the longer timeline of DIY design (and thereby lost potential clients in the meantime), it is important to look at the related costs. It is easy to get caught up in the cost savings of DIY design without considering the true cost of your website.
While domain costs are consistent for all, hosting fees vary widely and provide different levels of benefit. Most monthly builders range from $10 – $16 / month in membership costs – and generally require you to spend on the higher range if you want features such as your own domain name or a SSL certificate. Compare this to most WordPress self-hosting packages which generally range from $3 – $8 / month, plus the cost of your website design with a professional. (Click here to see my recommended hosts)
Now in the first year the cost of a website builder program may seem like a reasonable cost, but it definitely adds up over time, especially when you start to realize the limitations that some builder have in terms of functionality. As well, I’ve seen cases in which builders discontinue the theme a doula chose to use, forcing them to start over again with a fresh theme (ouch!).
Will the builder allow you to change your site over time?
A factor that many birth and postpartum pros don’t into account (but should!) is the life span of a typical website.
It may come as a surprise to you that after 1.5 – 2 years many people are ready for at least a minor refresh of their website, and within 3 – 4 years it may be time for a whole new look. This is due to a blend of your own practice growth, changing design preferences and brand identity, and of course current trends in web design.
If you choose to use one of the DIY drag and drop builders such as Squarespace, your website content will live exclusively inside that builder. Should you decide to upgrade to a WordPress site down the road, you will essentially have to start from scratch. Even if you stick within the builder rather than changing to WordPress, some builders require you to start from scratch when you’re ready for a new look (Wix is the worst offender for this).
What is your long-term website & business plan?
I know that right now you’re focused on just getting your site live & working for you, and of course that HAS to be your #1 priority. Still, when deciding how to build your website it is worth considering your long-term plan.
Do you intend to grow the site with additional services in the coming year or two? Are you envisioning offering online courses with a membership platform? Would you like to implement an advanced class registration system? What kind of flexibility does your platform offer? Make sure you build something you can grow with!
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
Some of you may feel discouraged by the above questions. Please know that I am in FULL SUPPORT of those who wish to build their own websites, and even offer hourly DIY website support to help you make the most of your efforts. I don’t mean to discourage you, but rather give you a clear framework within which to consider your options. Just as you help your clients make informed decisions re: labor and birth, part of my role is to help you make informed decisions in your business.
If you’re commited to building your own site, I encourage you to take advantage of key resources on my blog, such as my guides to the about page and resources page, tips on writing great content for your website, and of course my Website Birth Plan ebook.
You are ALWAYS welcome to schedule a free 20 minute consult if you want to explore options on how you might work with me as your Website Doula. I can help out on your DIY site for an hour or three, build your starter website if you are a brand new practitioner, or a custom design if you are ready to grow your practice. No obligation – just a chat to help you make the best choice for your unique needs.
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