Web design is for professionals – how many times have you heard that? As a small business with limited budgets and lots of competition and minimal expertise with web design, can you really afford a professional web design service and are there better ways to get a professional website on line.
When you scan the Internet the incredible variety and costs are overwhelming. You can find the $199 website – a highly competitive area in terms of pricing, but caution must prevail – you will get what you pay for. A full professional design for a simple website can cost upwards of $1,000 and more depending upon the effort required by the designer to build the right look and feel as well as a few pages of content for your basic presence. The tough part is knowing what should you spend to get what you really need.
Many people and businesses really just want a website presence or as it sometimes referred to as an online business card or yellow pages listing. For this application what you need is a professional looking easy to manage website with some core features that allow your visitors to complete some key actions that you need them to do. Such as contact you, download information, location and specific web usage information.
One of the biggest mistakes one can do is to not be prepared when you engage a web design company or even more serious is to not dedicate the time to work with the design company to determine what you want the website to do. Guaranteed method of inflating cost, dissatisfaction and delays is to expect the design company to know everything about your business.
Having been involved in numerous small business and association websites over the past 15 years, the most frustrating part was trying to get the client to articulate what they really want and when they see the design it invariably is not what they thought it would be. This iterative cycle is very time consuming and expensive.
Many of the really inexpensive solutions will not do much to help a person develop their website purpose and content. If you do need that, then extra charges could grow open ended as well as occupying your time on the website rather than focusing on your real business.
So what is the solution to building a simple professional website, under your control that doesn’t cost the world and minimizes your time involvement?
The answer is to use a Content Management System being offered by large Hosting companies. We use 1&1 hosting and have had very positive experience with their service. The tools and intuitive user interfaces have come a long way and many of the newest applications out there have very easy interfaces and updating and adding lots of advanced features is very easy.
So far I haven’t really provided any practical or useful information, but hang on – the next posting will help you decide whether you should use this approach or opt for the web designer option, or both.
However the basics of setting up a new website still remain – you need to understand what you want from your website and be willing to spend some of your valuable time to work this through either by a “self help” approach or with a savvy web designer.