Building a website: expectations vs reality

March 6, 2024
Product Design
Words of wisdom
Career Development
You should know better

“I need a website!” they say. “Why do you think you need it?”, “Because I need to <sell more, get more attention, or any other goal>”.

Before investing time and resources into building a new website, you need to have realistic expectations about what it can and cannot do.z

Website 101

It is important to have a basic understanding of the service before you ask for it.

When you are thinking about building a website you need to consider two things: functionality and visuals.

The functionality is based on what the website needs to do. Does it need to sell, get leads, showcase content like photos or articles or promote your business?

The function will dictate the technical part of the project. The more you want it to do, the more time and money you will need to invest to build it.

The website also needs visuals that are usually made of branding, content (text and photos) and design (graphic, UI and UX design).

Visuals generally depend on your brand and your audience preferences. You want to speak to your audience through a unique perspective (i.e. your brand). This is also where you have the most freedom. You can decide what visual language you want to use as there are many ways to appeal to the same audience.

Answer the main question
The first question you need to answer yourself is “What does the website need to achieve?”.

Maybe you have a short-term rental business and you want a website that facilitates bookings or maybe you want people to read your articles, or just sell them something.

A website can help you achieve all of these objectives, but you need to know exactly what your main goal is. Write it down describing all the details that you can think of.

This will help to keep your eye on the target. It will also help if you are planning to hire someone to build a website for you as this will most likely be one of the first questions they’ll ask you.

When do you need a website?

The main benefit of having a website is that you are in control of your content.

When you use other websites or platforms to post your content or sell products, you have to play by their rules. If they change them, you will have to oblige. If they decide to favour video content vs pictures you will need to change your content to stay afloat and competitive.

Big social media websites have massive user bases and a lot of businesses are advertising there, so everyone competes for attention.

If you get people to come to your website, you are the only thing they will pay attention to as long as they are engaged, thus your odds for success are much higher.

If you are a content creator or you want to sell something, you probably want to have your website.

Your website, your content, your rules.

The catch is that you will need considerably more time and effort to get people to come to your website. This is where you will need to invest in marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), content strategy, advertising, etc.

Where to start?

Now, for those of you who need a website to run a business, usually an e-shop or blog, I would recommend starting with a template.

There is a bunch of website builders out there. Google for the top 10 and pick the one that matches your needs. It is quick and easy. And if you can spare a few additional dollars, you can get a higher-end template that will look better than most free templates out there.

What is important is that you get started. You can always upgrade, change or get a custom-designed website later.

Content is king. It is not the template that people come for to your site; it is what you offer them.

How much will it cost?

Even if you have a clear idea of why you need a website, it may not be the right time to build it, especially if you are just starting out.

A website, even if you built it yourself, comes with additional expenses. Even the most basic website will need a domain name (e.g. and hosting (a place where your website will live) which can cost anywhere from $70 to $500 a year depending on what you need.

If you are building an e-shop there will be additional costs to manage your stock, shipping, payments, etc. Different business goals will require a different mix of features and complexity and will affect the overall cost of building and maintaining the website.

Your two main options are:

  • If you have the know-how* — *built it yourself. This will save you money a the cost of your time (depending on your skills level).
  • If you have zero knowledge* — *hire a freelancer or a company. It will cost you more but will save you a lot of time and headache.

Worth knowing. The website can be built using a template or completely from scratch. However, there are some middle options where freelancers can pick and tailor templates to your needs.

If you have specific needs or a unique situation, hire a product designer who can design everything from scratch based on your unique business goals, market trends, marketing strategy, and user profile to create the best possible experience for you and for your customers (learn more at

💡 Word of advice. If you have better things to do than building a website and you can afford it — hire someone to do it for you. Focus on the things that cannot be outsourced as easily like networking, client relations and management.

I am convinced that most people who use computers on daily basis could build a website using website building platforms. The question is: Should they?

Speaking from experience, I have seen people overestimating themselves and ending up with a very bad website that probably does more damage than good. Plus, they spend a lot of time building it and when the results don’t meet expectations, that time is wasted.

Remember that people have fairly high standards for web experience. If you see a website that doesn’t work or looks strange would you buy anything from that business?

The biggest misunderstanding

Once you have your website up and running, what you have is a place where people can come to see your product.

But just because they can, it doesn’t mean they will. You need to figure out how to get them to come to you. I am talking about marketing, SEO, advertising strategy, etc. Getting a website is probably the easiest step in the whole process of trying to sell something.

The success or failure of the website depends on having the correct assumptions and putting in the work. It may run like a swiss watch and look like an Italian sports car, but if no one visits it, you won’t get much out of it.

This happens more often than one would think. People get custom websites and then they sit and wait for the money to start pouring. Ain’t going to happen, pal.

In other words, you need to get people to come to your website. Then you need to ensure that it works and that the users’ experience is great. If website visitors feel confident about your brand and products, they will feel more inclined to buy something.

If you are a content creator, you will have to commit to creating and uploading your content regularly. And I mean REGULARLY. That will be your primary product and the main way to attract users. If you are selling products, you will probably focus on advertising and marketing campaigns.

The percentage of people coming to your website vs those who buy something is very low (less than 10%). It means that you need to get a lot of people coming in.

Once you get people coming in, you will be able to track them to see how users interact with your website and what is their experience. This is where things get interesting (at least for me) as this is when you can start testing different ideas to optimise your website for the best results.

So when you think of getting a website, think about how you will engage people, make them comfortable and then eventually nudge them to do something.

A good product designer can help you figure this out.

You can learn more about what product designers do in my article below.

What do others think product designers do vs what we actually do
“I couldn’t work as a product/UX designer because I am not that creative.” Rings a bell, doesn’t it?

Thanks for reading!

Learn more about us at GytisMark if you want to get in contact or find more useful articles!

Edited by Adele Mark

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