With software like Squarespace and Wix making it easier than ever to “build your own website” more and more candidates are taking matters into their own hands to build their own campaign websites, without the help (or cost) of a professional agency. And they’re getting mixed results.
Your campaign website is one of the most important assets you have. It’s truly the only member of your team working 24/7. And increasingly, this may be the only contact, through social media and Google Search, that a voter has with your campaign. Getting the website right is essential.
Here are some important considerations when deciding whether you should use a website builder like Squarespace or Wix rather than hiring a professional to build your website.
DIY website builders are attractive for their low costs. Their most expensive packages are typically priced at around $50 per month – roughly half of what a professionally built website could cost. When you’re just launching your campaign and on a tight budget, that looks a lot more attractive than the cost of working with a professional.
Unlike a website built by a professional, you can get a DIY website up and running in about an afternoon. Beware that, despite their marketing promises, if you’re not familiar with the tools there is a learning curve for getting up to speed with them and making your website could take you several hours. Before you decide to spend 8 hours or more wrangling your website on a DIY builder, consider what your time is worth as a professional or as a candidate and the value of a professionally built website comes into focus. Just an hour of fundraising calls could cover the investment.
You’ll get lots of added value from hiring a professional to build your website for you – especially if they’re experienced in politics – because they’ll know things you don’t know, including what disclaimers are required, the latest tactics and trends, and how to make sure your site appears in Google searches. Building your website on your own means you’re missing out on their perspective and experience. If you’re a first-time candidate, is that a corner you can afford to cut?
Even though DIY website builders promise total customization, what they mean is you can customize within their parameters. And since their target customers are small businesses (not political campaigns), it will be difficult to customize their existing templates for your specific use cases.
There are even restrictions on adding in third party tools you may want to use later on, like building custom audiences on Facebook or tracking conversions from ads. By using a DIY website builder, you limit what’s possible with your website later on in the campaign.
You should never launch your campaign without a website – even if it’s just a basic landing page with a donate button and a signup form – so if budget is holding you back, a DIY builder is a great option. But a DIY website should only be a temporary placeholder.
Your campaign website is working 24/7 and it’s how most of your voters will interact with your campaign. You can’t afford not to invest in your website.