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designing your own wordpress site might be a bad idea I was answering a few questions for someone this week who owns a small business in Philadelphia and who had been told by an acquaintance about the wonders of WordPress. This business owner proudly proclaimed that they were going to use WordPress to build their own website. WordPress is a fantastic tool which when used correctly can greatly enhance the usefulness of a website and perhaps even more importantly it can provide the ability for a non technical person to add and or remove content. In fact we use it quite often as the back-end component for our clients CMS websites. Yes one can use a template to create a site without knowing code and this at first blush may seem like a money saving business savvy way to provide prospective online visitors with information about one's business. With that train of thought we have to ask the question: If this is so easy, what are all of those professional designers and developers out there actually doing? If WordPress and templates are available, why aren't these folks out of business? What are you actually paying them for?

My answer is this, like just about anything, you get what you pay for. Think of it this way. Scissors are a great tool for cutting hair. Do you cut your own hair? A saw, hammer and nails are terrific materials and tools that you can use to build your own home or business thus cutting out those pesky contractors. Do you do your own building? And heck even a scalpel is readily available. Would you perform your own surgery? This only works if we don't care how our hair looks, or if our buildings are up to code, or if we remember much from dissecting those frogs in biology class. There is value that hiring a professional can bring to the table. It is important to understand what that value is and how it can contribute to your success.

There's a reason large and small companies alike hire branding firms to build their websites and to invent and then convey their messaging… because it works. Design is an art form, development is a discipline, they are studied over the lifetime of a career and then like every industry there are those professionals that are better at it than others.

I see it over and over again, a website is built that doesn't fit other company messaging, has components that don't work in some browsers alienating an audience segment, doesn't take into account SEO (how Google and other search engines will rank the site) and thus becomes an instrument for losing prospective customers instead of gaining them. Online properties are becoming increasingly important as they are many times the first interaction your business has with new customers AND the new "go to" destination for your returning customers. So your investment here is IMPORTANT. Every establishment today from the local bar or restaurant to Starbucks to the Apple Store understands the importance of ambiance in their physical locations. What successful entities have learned is that ambiance, access, and usability are just as important for their online properties.

The world has become competitive and if you don't capture someones attention within the first 3 seconds they'll move on. Try it yourself, next time you search for something on the web pay attention to what happens when you land on a page that doesn't immediately in a concise and efficient manner present you with what you are looking for… you leave. So spend your time improving what your business does and leave brand management to those who are trained in it. They can be one of the most important investments that you make for your business. Oh and leave your haircuts to those who are trained as well, but hopefully you've learned that lesson already.