What makes a good website?

What makes a good website?  This is something I thought about a lot while writing Create Your Own Website The Easy Way, and I sounded out my friends on their opinions as well. My friend Elizabeth Milovidov of Digital Parenting Coach (whose self-built website is featured in the book) gave me this brilliant answer, which of course I put into the book, and I want to quote here:

"A good website is one where your particular tribe or target audience gets what you are trying to say and appreciates the manner in which you say it, and they come back to you again and again because you are a trusted friend.

A good website is your digital face, a friendly handshake, a warm hug, a kick in the pants, a glass of wine, a cup of great coffee.

A good website may need a bit of tweaking, a bit of polish, so don't think that once it's done, it's done.  You can come back to it in a year and see what still works or what doesn't work so that as you evolve or your business evolves, your website evolves to reflect that change."

A good website is a kick in the pants.  I love that!

A good website has to look right, engage its audience, and carry out the purpose for which you created it.

What do you think makes a good website?

Wix - the easy way to get yourself a great website?

The other day I had a session with a very, very nice, enterprising and inspired lady for whom I designed a WordPress website back in 2009.  Of course, that site badly needs updating as six years is a very long time in the world of the web.  In fact, it needs a complete rebuild, not just an update, as the theme I built won’t work with the latest version of WordPress as it’s changed so much, for example, they didn’t even have proper menus in WordPress back in 2009!  Not to mention the fact that the site design looks antiquated by this stage.  So this site badly needs re-doing - it’s a  big job, and it turns out the client just doesn’t have the budget to get it done, although I offer her the simplest and least-involved options available. But I realise something.  She hasn’t been really using the old site much anyway.  The blog posts are years old and she hasn’t added anything new in ages.  All her activity happens on Facebook, which she posts to prolifically and has quite a following.  Why hasn’t she been using her blog?  It turns out she doesn’t feel comfortable in WordPress anyway.  It’s just that little bit too complicated for her to want to post to regularly.

This lady is the ideal example of a client to whom I recommend Wix.  If WordPress is too daunting a prospect - and the whole point of using WordPress is to be able to take charge yourself and post as often as you like - then Wix may be your answer.  My client was at first resistant, saying she liked the look of her existing website too much to want to change.  However, in Wix, you can design a site to look exactly as you want it to (which you actually can’t in WordPress - that is, if you’re not a developer).

So is Wix the easy answer if WordPress is just that one bit too involved for you?  Yes, I think it is a really good answer for many people.  My clients come to me assuming I will recommend a WordPress site to them just because everyone's talking about it - but honestly, WordPress isn’t for everyone.  (See my blog post about that here.)


Here’s the lowdown on building a site in Wix.

  • You either start with a blank canvas (which is what I did in the end for this client, and recreated the look of her old site), or one of their really good looking templates.
  • You add your own images and text.
  • You add a blog if you want to.
  • You hook up with social media using one of their free plugins.
  • You add a signup form for your opt-in list.
  • You can add a shop with their own easy-to-use e-commerce system, or integrate Shopify or Ecwid if that’s what you prefer.
  • When you’re ready, you switch your domain name over so that it shows your new Wix site, following their instructions.
  • Wix is a “hosted” system, which means you don’t need to worry about hosting, or upgrading, or anything like that, so it immediately removes that stress.  You’ll want to get a paid-for package so that your site doesn’t display ads - you really don’t want that.  But the packages are very reasonable, about $8 for the lowest monthly package that allows you to add your own domain and remove the ads.

There are a few downsides, of course, to using Wix.

  • The disadvantage of your site being hosted by someone else is that you are dependent on their system.
  • If you ever decide to change your platform, you can’t export your site (or blog) content - you’ll have to copy it manually and rebuild it all from scratch.  For this reason, if you want to build a site with a large number of pages or if you plan to blog prolifically, I don’t recommend Wix as the best solution for for you.  (What you could do is run a WordPress.com site on a subdomain of your domain - your blog won’t be integrated, but it may be a good answer for you as it's still simpler than running your own site on self-hosted WordPress.  They have clear instructions on how you can do this.)
  • Another drawback is that if you want to change the design of your site, you have to rebuild the site in its entirety - you can’t just switch themes.  I don’t think this is a major disadvantage though, if your site isn’t huge.  (In fact, changing themes in WordPress is not usually just a simple matter of switching over - if your theme, or your site, has any complexity, there is always a lot of work to do to get it looking right and working correctly.)

So, in a nutshell, if WordPress is too daunting, and you want a site which you can really take control of in terms of how it looks, Wix may well be the answer for you.  But not if your site needs to be vastly complex or large, seeing as you can’t export your site content.

Here are some examples of live Wix sites - click on each for a live example - you can see that they really do look good.  (They have many more examples on their "Get inspired" page.)

If you’ve built your site in Wix, or you have experienced building a site with Wix, do please comment (down below) and let us know how it went for you.  Do you recommend it?  Or not?

Note, May 2016: Since I wrote this post, I now favour Weebly over Wix for easy-to-build sites. When I wrote this post, Weebly's templates were rather outdated in look.  Now, they've redesigned their templates and they look wonderfully modern and appetising.  I've recently helped quite a few people make sites using Weebly templates and they've worked really well, and the key is that it's a super-simple system to use.  That said, they don't have a start-from-scratch design template, which Wix does, and this is what we used to recreate the client's old WordPress site in the above example.


How to add a MailChimp newsletter signup form to your WordPress website

MailChimp isn't the only email mailing list provider out there by any means, but it is the one that practically all the entrepreneurs I meet are using - probably because it's free up until 2,000 subscribers.  So in this post I'll tell you how you can easily start collecting subscribers for your MailChimp email list. First, obviously, you'll need a MailChimp account.  Click over to www.mailchimp.com and sign up for a free account; you'll need to click a button in an email to activate your account, and then fill in quite a lot of information before your account goes live - MailChimp needs your address in order for the emails you send to be compliant with spam prevention rules.

Then you need to create a list.  Of course, there are many other customizations you'll want to make before actually sending out a newsletter, and you may also want to customize your signup forms and the confirmation emails your subscribers will receive (to do this, click the name of the list you've just created, then go to Settings > List Name & Defaults and click the "list forms designer" link next to "Send Final Welcome Email" - you can now choose from the dropdown menu which item you want to customise).

But you don't actually need to do anything else on the MailChimp site, if you don't want to, before you can begin collecting email addresses from your website visitors - it will work right away with the settings just as they are.

Next, you need to put a signup form on your site.  You can embed a form directly into your web page using the code that they give you, but it's most likely you'll want to put the form in your sidebar, and for this you'll need a plugin.  From within the admin area of your WordPress site, go to Plugins > Add New and search for "MailChimp."  A list of plugins will appear, but the one you want is the one at the top of the list MailChimp List Subscribe Form by MailChimp and CrowdFavorite - this is the official plugin, and the easiest to configure (although, as you see, there are many others as well - go ahead and try out these ones out if you want to).

Once you have the plugin installed and activated, go to Settings > MailChimp Setup.  Choose the list you've just created, and type the wording you want to appear on the form.  You can also fiddle around with the appearance of the signup form, but you'll need to get it set up before you do this, so you can see how it looks.  If you scroll a little further down the page, you can choose whether you want people to have to include their names when they sign up, or not - it's your call.

Now, go to Appearance > Widgets and drag the MailChimp Widget into the sidebar.  You're all set to start collecting email addresses.

15 easy ways to make your website work better for you

I'm often asked by readers to look over the websites they've just built to see that they are as good as they can be, and these are some of the most common suggestions I make.

1. Make it easy for your website visitors to contact you.

It's madness to make your website visitors hunt around for your contact details. Put a "Contact" link either in your main menu - it's usually the last item, and it's here that people will look first - or in a footer menu. Better still, put your telephone number and email address (and any other contact details you want to supply) on every page.

2. Show your email address.

Include a visible email address on your website, as well as a contact form; many website visitors don't like contact forms, and prefer to contact you directly by email. Your email address isn't a secret - you have no worries in making it visible, as long as you spam-protect it so it can't be "harvested."

3. Organise your menu.

You shouldn't have a "wrapping" main menu - that is, one that continues over two lines because it has too many elements; this makes your site look messy and amateurish. Instead, group your menu items and stack them up using sub-menus, perhaps grouped under headings, if you have a lot of items you want to include in your main menu.

4. Keep up your blog.

If you don't have time to blog regularly, don't include a blog on your site. You don't have to post all the time - for a business site, this isn't even necessary; just make sure you post regularly, even if it's only once a month.

5. Integrate social media into your website.

Consider including activity streams on your site - your latest tweets, or recent activity on your Facebook page - rather than the static badges. If you're not into blogging, this is another way of showing you're alive and active.  Plus, if you integrate your social media, you're not directing your website visitors away from your own website.

6. Make use of images.

These days nearly everyone has a fast internet connection and we can see this change reflected in the way websites are designed - the use of pictures has become more and more prevalent and we are no longer shy about including many images, and sometimes even very large ones on our sites.  So, don't hesitate to include images on your blog posts and elsewhere on your website (your About page, for example) - and don't make them tiny in size, as it makes your site look old fashioned.

If you don't have your own photos you can use images from stock libraries; if you are original in your choice, these don't have to look like stock photos, and you'll find them surprisingly inexpensive.

7. Make your content easily readable.

People's concentration tends to be short when they are reading on screen - they want to find what they're looking for as quickly as possible. So space out your text, use plenty of headings, and keep your sentences short. Break up your text into easily-accessible chunks and include plenty of white space on your pages.

8. Flaunt your testimonials.

I know many people feel shy about displaying testimonials (everyone I talk to does!) but you mustn't let this stop you. Think of your own surfing experiences - reading customer testimonials can make the difference between whether you buy an item from one site, or another - so if you have great customer feedback, make sure everyone can see it.

9. Include a Google map.

If you have a real-world store or office, make it easy for people to find where you are. It's also helpful to include any useful information about public transport or parking.

10. Use a meta description.

This one is really important!  Make sure you control the description of your website that people will see in Google. You need to make sure it's as enticing as possible, to encourage people to click on your link instead of someone else's.  The way to do this is to include a meta description in your website code - otherwise just the first words of text on your home page will show up, instead of text you have carefully crafted expressly for Google. Depending what platform you use for your website, there may be a built-in way to add a meta description (as there is with Wix), or you may need to add an extension (for WordPress, you can use the All in One SEO plugin or WordPress SEO by Yoast). A meta description shouldn't be longer than 160 characters and you can include useful information such as opening hours and a telephone number, if relevant. See the following screenshot to see what I am talking about.

Make your description as enticing as possible. You can include calls to action, prices and telephone numbers. Note that the keywords searched - here "men's ties" - show up in bold, so you want to make sure your descriptions contain your major keywords as they will immediately resonate with the person searching.

11. Include an FAQ page.

The job of a "frequently asked questions" page is to remove any potential objection or doubt a customer may have in their mind that is preventing them from contacting you, hiring you, or buying your products (or whatever it is that your website aims to do).  You'll want to include all possible details (terms, refunds, how it works, etc...) on the FAQ page - it'll cut down on your time answering basic questions via phone or email, as well.

12. Have a mobile version of your website.

More and more people are surfing the web on the move, and this includes making purchases.  So you need to make sure your site is legible on all sizes of screen, if necessary implementing a special "responsive" or mobile version of the site for those accessing it via a smartphone.  How you do this again depends on the platform you're using; many systems have inbuilt mobile versions or responsive templates available.

13.  Allow people to share your content.

If people want to share your content, make it easy for them; include "send by email" links, and "Share" buttons so they can post your content to their own Facebook or LinkedIn networks, or tweet it.

14. Put yourself in your site visitors' shoes.

What do they want to know? How will they benefit?  What information can you give them that will make them choose you over one of your competitors?  When you're writing the text for your website, make sure you focus on the benefits for your customer of choosing your product or your service.  It's astonishing how many sites I'm asked to review where the website owner has just listed the features of their products or services when really, this should be turned right around to show the benefits for the prospective customer.

One of the very best examples of writing with your customer in mind that I know of is the website for JohnLewis.com.  This is a very well respected UK department store and their website is a lesson in how to write for the web.  Take this example, and marvel at how, instead of listing the dull-sounding features of the washing machine they are trying to sell, the copywriter has managed to make the description positively exciting by turning around every single feature into a benefit the prospective customers can actually visualise applying to themselves, and in effect, improving their lives.  Do click over and take a look - making this change in the way you write, to really engage your visitors - whether your site offers objects for sale or encourages people to hire you for a service, or simply showcases your designs or your knowledge - will have a huge impact on the impression you give and the ultimate success of your website.

15. Be clear about the purpose of your website.

This is the last item but perhaps it should be the first, as it is certainly the most important.  What purpose do you want your website to serve?  Do you want customers to buy from you? Do you want them to sign up to your email list?  Do you want to provide information to your site visitors, thus presenting yourself as an expert in your chosen area?  Once you're clear about your aim (or aims - you can obviously have more than one), ask yourself if your site is achieving your goals.  If not, there will be plenty of changes that you can make.

Good luck - and please do leave your comments below to share your experiences with other readers.  Have you made a change to your website that has had an immediate impact?



5 really useful WordPress tips

Obviously in my line of work I get the chance to see many different self-built websites and discuss them with their owners.  The following are some of the most common minor tweaks I find myself suggesting to people.  (They apply only to WordPress sites.)

1. "Posted by admin."

I see this really often and it bothers me a lot as it's just so easy to change!  Who wants to be known publicly as "admin" when they've authored a blog post? All you need to do is change your "label," either to your first name, your full name, or a nickname. Even if you don't feel it appropriate to put your own name, why not choose your business or website name - or even just your initials?  To make this change, go to Users > Your Profile, scroll down a little and type in your name or "nickname" - the name you want to appear as the author of the blog posts - in the "Name" area. Select your choice from the "Display name publicly" dropdown, and save the change.

2. Re-name your "Uncategorized" blog post category.

Yes, of course you do need a "catch-all" category for blog posts that don't fit in anywhere else. But it looks so uncaring not to name this default category something more meaningful than just "Uncategorized!"  Again, it's easy to change the name of the default category to "Blog" or "Updates" or "News" - and you'll find that all the posts that have already been filed under this category will automatically appear under the new classification, so there isn't even any sorting out to do. Go to Posts > Categories, mouse over "Uncategorized" where you see it in the list of blog post categories, click on "Quick Edit" and change the name and the slug (just type the same thing twice); click "Update Category." Now your blog posts look so much more cared-for!

3. Change your permalinks.

Warning - you'll want to do this at the beginning of your setup - if you do it once you have any amount of content on your site, you'll mess up your menu and any internal links - plus anyone who's bookmarked your pages or posts won't be taken back to the right place in future.  So do this before you launch, and preferably right from the beginning.

WordPress automatically saves pages and posts with a web address that looks like this: http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

This doesn't look very elegant if you're quoting a web address to someone in an email, for example - and more importantly, it doesn't mean anything to Google. What you want is a web address for each page and post that looks like this:


as Google will be able to make sense of whatever page title you have given the page or the post (of course, you'll have considered the search engines when you decided on the page title).

To do this, just go to Settings > Permalinks, select the radio button entitled "Post name," and save the change.

4. Display your email address.

I'm always pointing out the necessity of displaying your email address to site visitors in case they're unwilling to contact you via an email form (a big percentage of my workshop participants tell me that they are always suspicious of using email forms). But at the same time, you do need your email address to be protected.  We often see email addresses displayed as email AT yourdomain.com - this works, but it looks rather clumsy, and the email address isn't an active link.  Far better to install the Email Protector plugin (by Pixeline) and have your email address appear as a link (this happens automatically once the plugin is installed) that's protected from spam harvesters.

(Note that your email address may not be protected by the plugin if you type it into a sidebar widget.)

5. Make use of short menu item labels.

Menus that wrap onto two lines are a particular bête noir of mine - unless, of course, your theme accommodates them easily, or was especially designed for a double row of menu items. One way to save real estate in your menu area is to cut down on the length of the navigation labels, while still keeping the longer title on the page itself, if necessary.  (Of course, the title you give to a page is by default the label that's given to that page when you add it to the menu.)  FAQ is a good example - it doesn't make any sense to take up all that space by writing "Frequently Asked Questions" in the menu area, whereas you'll probably want it to appear in full on the page itself.

Your home page is another example of a situation when you're likely to want a different label in the menu to what is written on the page. You'll want to have "Home" in the menu as it's what people expect (plus it's short) - but you certainly don't want "Home" written as a title prominently at the top of your home page - it looks terrible, and is completely meaningless. (Note, this only applies if your theme doesn't let you remove the title on the home page - all premium themes will allow you to do this, or the home page layout will automatically be set up not to show the title.)

What to do in these situations? First change the title of the page to the longer version of the title that you want to appear on the page (or save it directly with a long title if you are creating the page from scratch). So, create a page that is called "Frequently Asked Questions," or give your existing home page a new title that you won't mind seeing written very visibly at the top of the home page (perhaps a one-sentence introduction containing your main keywords - or at any rate something that sounds engaging to your visitors).

Then go to Appearance > Menus and add the new page to the menu (if it isn't there already). When the item is in the central area, you'll see that it has the long name you've just given it; click on the small triangle to the right of the menu item next to "Page," write the shorter label that you want to see in the menu in the "Navigation Label" field ("Home" or "FAQ," to continue with the same examples), and save the menu. Now check your live site, and you'll see the change - plus a shorter, neater-looking menu.


I hope you find these five easy-to-implement WordPress tips helpful.

How to prevent hacks on your website

Hacks do happen occasionally, so I asked my friend Claire Gallagher of Claire Creative to write this short low-down on what you can do to keep yourself out of trouble. -------

As a site owner, it is important to protect your website from unwanted attacks. Hacking is unfortunately something that does occur in the world of websites, no matter who hosts your site and no matter its subject matter, and you can’t ever be sure you are 100% safe.  However, there are a number of precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of attack. Here are five points to address to improve your site’s safety.

1. Your computer.

The computer that you use to log in to your website should be secure.

  • Use anti-virus software.
  • Don’t download files or applications from sources that you don’t know.
  • Use spam filters on your email account.

2. Your host.

Choose a reputable host that offers customer support. Before deciding on a host, check online reviews to ensure that the host is reliable.

3. Your passwords.

Choose a secure password for your hosting account and your admin area (if your site uses WordPress or another content management system). It is also a good idea to change your passwords regularly.

Note that if you use a WordPress site, you should avoid the default “admin” as your user name.

Your hosting company will most likely provide you with a complex password for your FTP – you should change this from time to time as well, whether or not you use FTP to upload files to your website.

4.  Your version of WordPress and plugins.

Your site, just like your computer, runs on software that requires occasional updates. WordPress updates are released regularly to protect against hackers and generally improve the performance of your website. It is highly recommended that you keep WordPress and plugins up to date - it’s one of the best ways to protect your site from attack. With any software update, there can be compatibility issues, so take a backup before you do your update.

The same advice goes for any other content management system or open source software you may be using on your website.

5. Your backup copy.

Despite your best efforts, your site may still get attacked. Never fear! If you have a backup copy, your site can be restored in all its former glory, with limited downtime – all you need is a back up copy of your site and your database (if your site uses one - WordPress sites do use a database).  Your hosting company will advise as to how often they take security backups, and if you use WordPress, it’s a simple matter to set up an automatic backup system from within your admin area.  Updraft Plus is one of several free WordPress plugins available.  (You should make sure you keep a backup on your own computer, as well as stored on your host, just in case anything ever happens to your host!)


What's the deal with WordPress?

If you're on the point of building your own website, you've certainly heard about WordPress, and perhaps you've even decided already, without knowing too much about it, that WordPress is definitely for you.  Everyone's talking about it – but what is it, and why might you choose it to create your website? WordPress is a free software that anyone can use.  It's the most-used CMS that there is at the moment - this means a "content management system" - a "platform", or system that you can use to put your content online, without literally building it in code.  20% of all websites in existence are, apparently, built on WordPress.  You simply install it on your website, usually with just one or two clicks depending on your host, wait for the email confirming your installation, and you’re ready to start.

To install the full version of WordPress, you do need your own domain name and your own hosting, and you might want to buy a premium template as well, so it would be wrong to say that it’s completely free.  But building your site on WordPress will reduce your costs dramatically, compared to getting a web designer to design and programme your site from scratch.

Let’s get something straight first – there are actually two versions of WordPress.  There is a version that is known as “WordPress.com” that is hosted for you, meaning you don’t have to purchase and manage your own hosting setup.  This is a kind of “lite” version of WordPress and it’s brilliant for bloggers.

However, if you want to develop your site further than just creating a blog – for example, if you want to accept payments for products or services or list events on your website, you’ll find WordPress.com is not for you.  Or simply, if you want to remain in control of your own website and not have it hosted by another company, then you’ll want to go for the second version, the “full” version, that is known as “self-hosted” WordPress or “WordPress.org.”  The self-hosted version of WordPress is the one we are talking about here.  To use self-hosted WordPress, you’ll need your own domain and your own hosting, and you’ll have to install WordPress yourself, but none of this is difficult to do.  After that, how far you want to go in the development of your site is up to you.

WordPress runs on templates, which are known as “themes.”  There are a vast range of themes available, designed and created by independent designers and programmers all over the world.  Some of these are free, and some you have to pay for.  Until quite recently, free themes were overwhelmingly for blogging sites and there wasn’t a great range available for other kinds of site.  Now you’ll find a selection of free themes you can use if you’re setting up a business site rather than simply a blog, and some of these are good.  But for the majority of people setting up a WordPress site, you’ll want to choose and invest in a premium theme because they look much more professional and offer you more customization.  Buying a theme is a one-off payment (usually around $50) – once you’ve bought it you can use it indefinitely, and to my mind this is one of the best investments you’ll make as it will mean your website looks as good as it possibly can.

Customization is an issue I want to touch on at this point.  Someone who has used a website creator such as Wix may be surprised that you can’t drag and drop elements around your site in the way you can if you were creating with Wix.  The reason for this is that the coding behind a WordPress site is much more sophisticated than that behind a Wix site and your WordPress site can be made to do things on a far more complex level, if you want it to.  So, you don't actually design your own site if you use WordPress - you run on a theme that has made most of the design and layout decisions for you.  If you want a site that you can customize to a large extent, for example change the colours and fonts and maybe decide on your own layouts, you’ll need to choose a very recent theme and check the small print as to exactly what you can do with it – you’ll find that not all themes allow you to change colours and fonts and layout the way you might expect at the outset.  The answer to this is to choose a theme that looks as nearly as possible the way you actually want your site to look.  There are so many hundreds of beautiful themes available that you’re sure to be able to find something that’s already exactly as you want it, and it will most likely be completely unrecognisable once you've got your own images and wording in there.  (See here for some of my tips on choosing a WordPress theme.)

A WordPress site can be made to do almost anything you want it to.  It can work as a “brochure” style website for a small business,  or as a portfolio.  You can set it up to take payments online, to create a membership site, to list event dates.  This is thanks to a vast number of “plugins” available – most of them free – created again by independent programmers all around the world.  (A plugin is an "extra" that makes WordPress do something it doesn't already do all by itself.)  Every WordPress site has an integrated blog right within it and can be connected to your social media as well in a variety of ways – to display your Facebook stream, your Pinterest boards or your Instagram pictures, and it can even show your products listed on Etsy that people can choose right from your site.

How far you want to go depends on you – if you’re not very technical, you may find that your needs are met by using a fairly basic theme, but if you enjoy experimenting, you’ll certainly want to develop your site further once you start to see what you can do with WordPress.

I’m not a blind advocate for WordPress in all cases (I write more about this here).  It may be that if you want an online store, it may be easier and more appropriate for you to set up a webstore using Shopify.  And as I said, if you simply want to blog in a very light-hearted way, it could be that a ready-hosted blog at WordPress.com or Typepad might fit your needs perfectly.  But for most types of websites, a self-hosted WordPress site, as simple or as complex as you need it to be, will be a very good solution.

If you’re undecided, here are some of the reasons why you might want to use WordPress.

  • It gives the power to the you as the website owner.  You don’t need to rely on your webmaster to make updates so you can easily keep your website up to date.
  • It has a fairly user-friendly interface, especially compared with some of the other complex systems out there.  Most people find it easy to work with, once they've browsed around a little, and having got the hang of it, you’ll be able to make updates easily.
  • Once the site is built, it’s an enormous time saver – you can add pages, images and blog posts extremely quickly.
  • It’s free – or should we say, extremely low cost, compared to getting a website built from scratch, and there are no monthly fees apart from your hosting.
  • You're in charge of hosting it, which means you have entire control.
  • It can be made to do pretty much anything you want it to – thousands of developers worldwide work on plugins to make it more and more flexible.
  • Because so many people use it, there is a huge support network for users and developers.
  • You can easily find a developer to work on your site as so many programmers build with WordPress.
  • Even getting a site built by a professional with WordPress will be much less expensive than hiring them to build it from scratch.
  • It's robust and reliable, and secure – any security holes are fixed with frequent updates to the system.  (You must make sure you keep everything updated.)

Now, having praised WordPress and told you what a great system it is, I do have to repeat that it isn't for everyone.   Most people who I help set up websites are really pleased with what they can achieve, and very much enjoy the creation process and the fact that they can now add to their website themselves and make changes as they please.  However I must say that some people I work with do find it a headache, and they'd be much better off either hiring a professional, or using a simpler system to get an uncomplicated "brochure" website up and in place.  See here to read more about whether WordPress is for you - you really want to make the right decision before you start.