DIY Web Builders vs Developers vs Website Services

Having a website dedicated to your radio station is essential.  It can do so much more than simply being a spot to put your “listen live” button.  It can provide you with unlimited opportunities to generate additional revenue by clients sponsoring the content you create and promote there.

Not so long ago, there would have been no question of hiring a pro to get the results you want, but thanks to the rise of website builders, it has become much easier for people with very little web experience to build a more-than-decent website. Just because you can, though, doesn’t always mean you should.

It All Starts with Content!

It’s obvious that there are major cost differences between DIY, developer, and services. Don’t let cost be the first thing you think of though. The first step in your decision process should be to decide what your website content will be.  What’s going to draw listeners/visitors back day after day?  If you want a simple brochure website with a “listen live” button, then definitely start with a DIY builder.  Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress.com, and Wix are some popular choices.  But if you want to display news, events, and sellable banner ads, then you’ll need something more robust.

DIY/Page Builders

Pros

– Lowest initial cost: Most page builders are free to try and then charge a small monthly fee to host.

– Easy to Publish: Some builders claim to launch your website in as fast as 30 minutes, compared to hiring a developer that could take weeks.

– Beginner-friendly: You don’t need coding and design skills to create your website. Most builders come with pre-made templates or themes so you don’t have to design things yourself. Nearly all are drag/drop editors.

Cons

– Limited Customization: You must settle on the available templates and designs included in the builder. Since pre-made templates are generic and appeal to a mass audience, you most likely will not achieve a professional-looking website with it.

– Pop-ups and Advertisements: If you’re using a free plan, don’t be surprised if you see a lot of advertisements in the background. This is how they maintain providing free accounts on their platform.

– Limited Customer Service: When you experience any problem using any of the builder platforms, you must find answers on your own, as most have limited support.

– Difficult/impossible to transfer your content: Most web builders use proprietary software that does not allow copying it to a different platform or hosting provider. You would basically have to start from scratch to move.

Hiring a Developer (In-House or External)

Pros

– Site designed the way you want: It can be difficult to take someone’s vision for their website and create it.  Many people opt out of DIY builders because they cannot make the site look like how they envision it in their minds.  Developers are skilled with this kind of interaction and can code things especially to your needs and tweak them to your needs.

– Experience: Professional web developers will instinctively implement best practices with the sites they create. Things like fast loading, being responsive to mobile devices and SEO friendly will likely come standard with any project they take on because they understand the importance of those things long-term.

– Communication: Hopefully you’re considering hiring someone local.  If so, communication will be much better and more responsive.

Avoid hiring developers overseas who will likely build your website the way you want for the agreed fee and then leave once the project is complete.  This leaves you to deal with issues yourself or you’ll have to hire another developer to fix things.

Cons

– Costs More: As opposed to DIY website builders, hiring a professional means you’ll have to pay more. Significantly more, in most cases.  Make sure the costs fit in your budget before hiring a professional.  Also consider that in addition to the developer, you’ll need to budget an ongoing hosting plan as well.

– It Takes Time: When you hire a professional developer and designer, they’ll have to build the site from scratch. This can take some time, as your website will be built to suit your needs.

– Communication Long Term: I’ve heard countless stories of designers who maintained pages very well for a few years and then, as they got more clients, the responsiveness became worse and worse, to the point of no communication at all.

Partnering with a Web Service

Over the last 15-20 years, several companies have sprouted up that specifically offer radio station websites.  Some offer a website in addition to their streaming or other services.  The best part for you is that most of these options combine or take the best of the pros we’ve mentioned so far and drastically reduce the cons. Some companies to consider are Skyrocket Radio, SoCast, Intertech, Aiir, and LinkedUpRadio.

Pros

– Payment Plans: Any of these companies will require a nominal setup fee and charge an ongoing monthly rate. While this is more than a website builder, you’re getting a much more professional-looking website that’s is catered to radio.

– Designed for you: The setup fee covers the service taking all of your initial logos and content and populating it in a way that looks best works for your brand.  Of course, your input will be welcome at every step.

– Experience: Chances are the template you’re using with one of these services was made by a professional developer who has taken the necessary steps to ensure everything is in place for security, speed, and dependability.

– Great Training: Any website service will offer training services to get you and your team up and running.

– Ongoing Support/Communication: Since you’re paying a monthly fee, the company wants you to remain happy so that you’ll stick with them long-term.  Communication should be quick and responsive as well.  You should get questions answered quickly.

Cons

– Can take time: Depending on the customer load of each company, the process of getting your new site online can take anywhere from several days to a few weeks.

– Customer Service: Some services are simply better at customer service than others. Before selecting one service over another, reach out to several stations using their website product to inquire how responsive their customer service team is.

– Unwilling to Customize: Does the service you’re looking at code their own templates and plugins or use third-party code?  If they are using third-party code, they may not be able to accept client requests to tweak things.

Conclusion

Your station website is a visible brand for your radio station, so it should be given a high priority. It’s a revenue tool.  If it looks like a kid designed your site, it will leave a bad impression on a listener… your advertisers.

If price is the considering factor, and time isn’t, then choose a website builder you can learn and be comfortable with.  If you have a great relationship with a developer, that may be the way to go.  Just ensure you have a plan in place for continual long-term security updates and issue management. The dedicated web service is the best option for stations wanting a great-looking and performing website but only wanting to focus on the content and revenue side – not code and security updates.  The price is more than DIY, but you get a more professional product.

Need help with your website?  We’re here to help!

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.