So you have decided you need a website for your business! All of a sudden you are faced with a few choices that can have a lasting effect on the outcome of your website. It is important that you make an informed decision on how you will create and develop your website, which we will discuss in-turn. The most common options for small businesses when creating a website are to;
• Outsource to a Web Design company for a custom-made website
• Use a freelance web designer and adapt a template to suit
• Use a free template-based design and do it yourself.
We see so many small business owners go down the path of having a custom-made website built through a web design agency or company. This process can require a sizeable investment, with many (by no means all) website companies targeting their product towards larger businesses with charges upwards of $5,000 (we have heard of up to $15,000 being paid). And that is only the beginning, many multi-national corporations will pay in excess of $40,000 for their website and other online marketing tools such as email campaigns and micro-sites (short lived websites developed for the purpose of promoting a special event or product). This however is not an indication of quality, and it is more than possible for small businesses to develop a website and online marketing tools at a fraction of those costs.
Mistake One: Not knowing your ongoing costs. The problem here is not so much the quality, as these websites usually look and work fantastically; the issue is the cost of ongoing management. We have had many clients complain that they have ended up locked in contracts where every little change costs them again, to the point where many have told us they just put up with what they had.
Our Tip: Find out the cost to develop AND the cost to maintain your website.
Using a freelance web designer and adapting a template to suit can cost up to around $2,000. That’s factoring in buying a domain and hosting, buying a template and paying for it to be adapted and having a marketing / copy professional write your copy and assist you with targeting your market. This is our preferred method, and developing web content and strategy has become one of our most popular services.
The big advantage here is you usually get an easy to understand content management system, which means if you want to change a picture or update some copy, add a promotion or feature a new product, you can do it yourself. The cost of making such changes down the track can also inflate rapidly with what the industry calls ‘amends’. Amends are any changes or additions you want made to the site after it’s initial development. Make sure you negotiate how many amends, if any, are included in your costs before the beginning of development to ensure you don’t incur any additional costs as your website is built.
Another sneaky way some of these companies will create ongoing charges is through hosting services. Many people have little to no knowledge about what it takes to host a website online. The reality is the cost of hosting should be minimal. We have heard of people paying upwards of $150 a month for website hosting. This is an unnecessary charge. Do some research yourself and tell your developer who you want to host your website, that way you control the costs involved. We have many of our clients’ websites hosted with VS Mirco Data, who provide great quality hosting at a reasonable price point.
Mistake Two: Being convinced your website has to be one of a kind. Many people think the biggest downside here is that using a template generally means your website is not an original – that said does it need to be? If it looks professional, meets your objectives and connects with your target market, it doesn’t need to be one of a kind.
Our Tip: Make sure the web designer and the content writer can work together.
You don’t want to ‘middle man’ every question. In more recent times bigger corporations are even turning to services such as WordPress and using pre-developed themes to limit costs. It is amazing what can be done with a pre-existing theme, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that in order to beat out your competitors you need to spend big bucks.
Lastly the cheapest option is using a free template and DIYing.
Mistake Three: Not factoring in your time into what DIYing involves is really costing you. It costs nothing but your time, which can be considerable. It is not only the structure and build of the website that takes time, but also sourcing a good hosting company, setting up domain specific emails and creating your own content and copy. Be careful though, your website is a reflection of your business and is used by consumers to determine if you are a credible, trustworthy, quality brand. It’s imperative your website communicates that. Only DIY if you have patience, some creativity and great problem solving skills, as you will most likely find yourself googling how to fix a broken plug-in at 2am on Wednesday morning.
Our Tip: Consider outsourcing bits and pieces where you just can’t crack how to do it correctly.
If you are working to a budget, you can always engage someone to set up your hosting and website template with no content or copy, and insert the copy and images yourself. This way you ensure that you have a stable website that has a user-friendly content management system, allowing you to change and adapt your website and it’s content as you need. This also means that if your website does run into issues down the track, you have someone you can contact for support when needed.
If you would like a second opinion on a website you’re about to launch, or one that’s not delivering the results it should, our Wise Up Online Package includes a website effectiveness audit and a 20 page report uncovering the truth about your website allowing you to identify how you can unleash it’s true potential.
Until next time, W is for Websites. And that just leaves X.Y.Z!