If you want to start a new website – be it for business purposes or personal project – there are two main paths you can take:
- A: Hire a web developer and have them handle the task for you
- B: Create a website yourself (scary, I know).
When you hire a web developer, you can basically unload all of your ideas/plans onto them, pay $200 to $3000 and just wait for the end result.
You could try it yourself by following the guide below.
I’m a web developer by myself and whenever clients come to me and say they’re on a low budget (<$500), I recommend reading through the guide and actually try to build the site by themselves.
Here are all the pros and cons of hiring a web developer vs building a (WordPress) site yourself.
In case you’re in a hurry, here’s (nearly) all you need to know without going into details:
|Hiring a Web Developer||DIY|
|Budget needed: $500-$3000 for basic site + $70 / year for domain and hosting.||Budget needed: $70 / year for domain and hosting + (optionally) $40 for a premium WordPress theme.|
|No WordPress experience needed.||Needed a basic understanding of how WordPress works.|
|Website can be built on a completely custom design.||Website built on a ready-made WordPress theme.|
|Additional functionality can be custom-made.||Additional functionality provided by WordPress plugins.|
|The developer can register a domain name and buy hosting for you.||You will need to register a domain name and buy web hosting on your own.|
|You can have any type of website built.||Usually good for building basic websites.|
|Requires less time on your part.||Requires a lot of time on your part.|
With that out of the way, here’s a more in-depth breakdown of the topic:
(What follows is a step-by-step kind of guide – meaning that each step of the way, I’ll try to help you make this decision based on your requirements and level of experience with websites as a whole.)
1. Do you have the budget?
The no.1 problem with web developers is that they tend to be expensive.
And even though the market averages are very broad, we can safely estimate that hiring a developer can set you back anything from $500 to even $5,000 for a basic website.
This is just how the market works. We’re talking about people who do this professionally … hence they need to make a living, hence they have kids to feed, hence they have bills to pay, etc.
So the first question to ask yourself is, do you have at least $500-$1000 or more to spend on your website?
If so, you can consider hiring a web developer. If not … well, you have your answer – you’re building the thing yourself. In which case, don’t worry, we have a really cool guide that will take you through the process step-by-step.
2. Do you know WordPress?
Now, I’m not talking about some advanced, obtained-over-the-years knowledge here.
All you need at this point is a basic understanding of how to work with WordPress – publish posts, pages, install plugins, install themes.
If that’s either a “yes” right away or you’re willing to learn as you go along then building a WordPress website yourself should be within your grasp. (Here’s our introduction to WordPress to get you going in the right direction.)
If you can’t be bothered or simply don’t have the time to invest in obtaining knowledge like that then sorry, but even though WordPress is relatively easy to master, it’s not walk-in-with-no-preparation easy. You’re going to need a developer’s help.
3. Do you want to use a WordPress theme or get a completely custom design made?
There are more than 4,500 free themes available in the official directory and probably 2-5x that in the premium market.
With all that abundance, finding a theme that’s 99% perfect for your needs isn’t hard … time-consuming – yes, but hard – no.
And, obviously, you don’t need a developer to help you look for themes. You can do this yourself. Some common places to check out, for example:
- Official WordPress.org theme directory
- Premium themes at ThemeForest
- Directory of only free WordPress themes
- Curated list of the best free themes of the year
However, if you need something entirely custom, then creating such a thing yourself is really difficult. What we’re talking about here is basically building a completely new WordPress theme / design from scratch. For that, you need professional help.
In a nutshell, if you’ve found a theme you like and you want to use it on your website, you can set things up on your own. No developer needed.
4. Do you need any custom functionality that you can’t find in a WordPress plugin?
WordPress themes being one side of the spectrum, WordPress plugins are the other. And the plugins market is perhaps even 10x bigger.
And this is good! With more than 45,000(!) plugins available in the official directory, finding one that provides the feature you need is near certain. Similarly to how things work for Apple products – “there’s an app for that!” – there’s a WordPress plugin available for nearly every feature imaginable. You can look for plugins here:
In short, if you can find all the features you need either in WordPress itself or via plugins, then you probably don’t need a developer to install those plugins for you.
However, in a rare, 1 in 1000 case, you might need a feature that’s not available via a plugin. Maybe you’re looking for something entirely original that’s crucial for your business to operate, or something that’s simply a differentiating factor compared to what your competition has on their sites, and etc. If that’s your situation, you need a developer to build that feature for you.
5. Are you comfortable around domain names and hosting?
Lastly, let’s talk about the most technical of aspects when building a new website – you need a domain name and a hosting account to make everything work.
In all honesty, getting one or the other isn’t as difficult as some people would like you to believe.
But first, just to make sure that we’re on the same page:
- A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. This site’s domain name is websitesetup.org. To get a domain name, all you need to do is go to a domain registrar and purchase it.
- A hosting account – or a web server – is where your website is stored (this involves all your website files and data). More on the topic here.
So as I said, even though it may sound intimidating, getting a domain name and hosting isn’t difficult. For example, if you decide to go with a company like SiteGround (one of our reviewed companies), you can get both the domain and hosting all in one place.
SiteGround will take you through the signup process by hand, and at the end of it, you’ll come out with a registered domain name, a hosting account set up, and even a clean instance of WordPress installed on that hosting account. Highly recommended.
(If you want to install WordPress manually, follow this guide.)
However, if all I’m saying here doesn’t sound particularly enticing to you then you might want to hire a developer who’s going to handle all those hosting- and domain-related tasks for you.
Final verdict: Hiring a web developer or building a site yourself?
Taking all of the above into account, we can sum this up like so:
Which of these describes you better?
- If you’re an (A) type of person then you can go ahead and build the thing yourself. Here’s a guide of ours to get you started.
- If you’re more like (B), hire a web developer.
That pretty much sums it up. There really is no universally better path among these two. Based on your needs, one is always going to be better than the other, so it’s only a matter of figuring out what your expectations are, plus how much time and money you can invest.