Websites can be expensive and the cost for small business owners with a limited marketing budget can be prohibitive. In an effort to save money some business owners attempt building their own sites, often with poor results resulting in an unprofessional website.
Today’s consumers expect websites to work correctly and be viewable on all types of devices. It’s now common practice for many of us to use multiple devices throughout the day—desktop at work, mobile phone during the commute or tablet while eating dinner at home.
As a small business owner it’s critical you don’t waste money on a website that doesn’t meet current search engine requirements, isn’t responsive and can’t grow with your business.
If it’s time to reassess your website here’s some tips to guide you:
Do I need a website agency or a freelance designer?
I’ve heard of small businesses paying between $20k and $40k for their websites and unfortunately, most of these businesses can’t update or easily add new, fresh content to their site. If you’re a small business your marketing dollars need to be spent wisely so ask questions and equip yourself with some basic knowledge before you hire a website developer.
Agencies often have large overheads and lots of staff to pay so you’re bound to pay top dollar for their services. You’re also just one of many customers to deal with on busy day so the wait time might not be to your liking.
A freelance designer may work out of a small office or even their home and their hourly rate/website build rate will reflect this. They’re also more likely to provide you with one-on-one personal service, be there when you need them and have a quicker turn-around time.
What’s this responsive design thing everyone is talking about?
Before hiring anyone to build or update your website ask if they will be building a ‘responsive website’. A site designed with responsive web design adapts the layout to the viewing environment. This results in optimal viewing whether you’re using a desktop computer, a tablet or a mobile device. If they offer you a desktop site and a mobile site, say no.
Can I update my own website?
It’s important to discuss with your designer your needs in regards to updating your website. For some businesses updating their website themselves might not be critical ie. bricklayer, dentist, accountant, mechanic; and they may be happy to pay a rate to have their designer update the site when something changes.
Other businesses, for example, those who sell products and have an e-commerce site or provide services and want to incorporate a blog or news section in their website, should ask about a ‘content management system’.
A content management system is an application that will allow you to log into your website and alter, delete or add content as needed. Popular content management systems include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, however, some of the larger agencies create their own custom content management systems.
It’s important to think about how you’ll manage your website once it’s built. A good designer should ask questions and understand your business so they can choose a platform to suit your needs. If you’re choosing to work with an agency, ask if you can log into a demo site to get a feel for their content management system. Alternatively, if you think you’ll need guidance ask them to show it to you.