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Building your own website or getting a specialist

This page is free to all

Use this page for information on building your own website or getting someone to help.

You’ve talked to your users and decided that a new website is the best way to meet their needs. Now you've got some decisions to make. You can either build it yourself (DIY) or hire someone to do it for you. Whichever you choose there'll always be future costs that need thinking about now.

Building your own website (DIY)

Many small charities build a site themselves using DIY website tools like Squarespace.

Building your own website is a viable option if you don't have a budget but you do have time. DIY website tools will provide good basic functionality for your site.

There are hundreds of pre-designed visuals to choose from (known as themes). And there are lots of tutorials that'll teach you how to build your site using whichever DIY tool you choose.

Costs

DIY website tools come with a monthly subscription fee. Sometimes this is free if you don’t mind having adverts on your site.

You’ll still need to pay a small fee (£10-20) to register your site’s web address (known as a domain). There's a similar domain renewal fee every 12 months.

Changing your site

If you change your mind about the way something on your site works, you can experiment with new approaches as fast as you can learn them.

Looking after your site

If you build it yourself then the website tool will also provide somewhere for your site to live (known as hosting). It will also look after its technical performance.

You’ll be responsible for looking after everything else. Including how it looks, the words it uses and how you use any features provided by the company.

If other staff or volunteers will look after your site with you (or instead of you, if your job changes) they'll need to know or learn the same things as you. You should find out how easy it'll be for them to learn this and what support or tutorials are provided. If you don’t think about this then it can cost someone a lot of time to learn to look after the site when you’re not there.

Hiring someone to build your website for you

Hiring is an option at all stages. You can hire people who'll help you:

  • do the research to understand what your users need
  • plan and run tests
  • work out a good visual look and feel for your website
  • build a website that works well.

Hiring someone will also save you time.

Skills you want your agency to provide

  • User research and user-led design skills. Either to help you to do the research, or to make sure that what they build is based on your research.
  • Understanding of digital accessibility. So you can be as inclusive as possible.
  • Knowledge of different content management systems (CMS) for updating websites. And what those systems can provide so you get the best system to suit your organisation now and for the future.
  • Understanding of connecting different tools together. So you can provide things like online booking, donations or sales.
  • Understanding how to use analytics so you can track what people do on your website and improve it.
  • Skills for designing and building the website and configuring the CMS.

Costs

If you hire someone to design and build it for you, ask about:

  • site design and build costs
  • annual domain registration costs
  • annual hosting costs - how much you’ll pay to have your site hosted on the internet
  • annual maintenance fee - and what’s included
  • one-off maintenance costs - for anything not included in the annual maintenance fee (usually an hourly rate).

Changing your site

If you change your mind about the way something on your site works, you'll need to pay someone to change it for you.

Looking after your site

To save money and give you more control, ask what maintenance you could learn to do yourself. It should be easy for you to learn basic maintenance like editing and creating new pages and menu items. You'll still need their support if technical things change or go wrong.

And, just like with DIY you should think about how it'll be for someone else from your organisation to look after the site instead of you.

Think about how easy it'll be for them and what support or tutorials your provider can offer. This can save someone else a lot of time in the future when you’re not there.

Learn:

Last reviewed: 02 March 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021

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