A web design project that lacks transparency and planning can prove to be a big problem in the long run. While spending your hard-earned money on a web designer or a web design firm, make sure you are able to communicate freely with the person managing your project. Organization will make sure your expectations are met and an open communication will ensure everything proceeds as it should.
Why go through the trouble in the first place?
Like many small business owners, you may believe your business won’t benefit from having a website. This a huge misconception because studies show that 85% of consumers use the internet to find products and businesses. Here are reasons why your company needs a professional website, no matter what size your business:
- Your Small Business Will Gain Credibility. Without a website, potential customers will go to your competitors that do have a website. If you already have a website but it is “home-made”, having it professionally redesigned will provide your business with a professional image which will inspire confidence.
- A Website Saves You Money. As a small business owner you probably think you can’t afford a professional website, but you really can’t afford not to have one. Although the cost of designing a website varies, once it’s up and running, a website for a small business generally costs under $100 a month to maintain. Compared with the cost of a newspaper ad, when you consider the potential market you can reach with a website, it is a very cost effective way to promote your business.
- It Is Always Accessible. A website is available 24/7/365, providing visitors with the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your store or office is closed. With today’s busy lifestyles, this is a great selling point when making a purchasing decision.
- Opportunities to Target a Wider Market. Whether you provide services or products, your website will provide an alternative location to sell. As a retailer, a website is a great place to sell your products to a wider market; even services can be made available globally. Don’t think you’ll be able to sell your products or services online? Don’t forget, even houses and cars sell online!
- Websites Save Time. Providing information to your customers takes time, whether it’s on the phone, face-to-face, in print materials, or via email. With a website you can provide information about your products and services. Once your website is up and running, it is available to your customers indefinitely, saving you time. And what is time? Money!
- Improve Customer Service. Maybe you sell environmentally friendly products and would like to share tips on how to recycle, or perhaps you’re an accountant and want to give your clients advice on how to simplify their bookkeeping practices. What better way to provide them with value added service than by sharing information on your website!
Already have a website? Take a look at our Considering a Website Redesign article to learn why it might be time to reevaluate your website.
Finding the right provider…
Whether you hire a freelance web designer or seek services from a website design firm, what matters is the level of proficiency. The provider has to be expert at what they do, so that you have perfection as the end-result. The best way to determine this is to go through provider portfolios so that you may actually be able to gauge level of experience. If you still have the slightest doubt when reviewing providers, the best thing would be to get in touch with any past client to assess their experience and quality of management.
Budget, budget, budget!
Budget has always been an aggravating, unavoidable part of any business, website development being no exception. Development costs can vary quite dramatically, depending upon how many labor hours are required to action your dream website. Websites just don’t happen, they are the result of the execution of a methodology or process that arrives at a successful result. Our website design methodology is based on combined 50 years of experience, optimized to make the process as streamlined and flexible as possible.
If your website is a significant part of your business, don’t skimp on it’s design and development. For a small business website you can spend as little as $1,000 or as much as $20,000 (or more!). Your budget should be based on what your business needs and not the minimum amount you’re willing to spend.
So, how much will this cost?
It depends on what you are trying to build. Here are some of the key elements that you need to consider:
- Branding: Do you have a logo developed? Do you have a style guide for your brand?
- Design: Do you have a clear vision for the look of your new website? Not defining your design aesthetic can add hours to a project.
- Features & Functionality: What features do you want (online portfolio, media uploading, etc) and what functions do you need (ecommerce, interactive forms, etc.)? Although ecommerce and search functionality is commonplace on the web – that does not mean that this is easy to develop. There are a lot of open source solutions available, but they invariably have to be customized and that effort can be time-intensive.
- Testing: The more complex your website, the more testing is required. What browsers do you want your site to work on? If you want depreciated browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 compatible with your website, that could take a lot of additional time to troubleshoot.
- Hosting: Have you selected a good hosting provider that will meet your needs? This is usually a small cost but still an important part of the process. You need to make sure that the host you select can support the website functionality you desire and the traffic you expect to have.
- Online Marketing Strategy: Do you have one? Don’t think that “if we build it they will come”. It’s important to have an understanding of online marketing and how your business will use it.
More Requirements = More Complexity = Higher Costs.
A look into Part 2….
In part 2 of this article we will discuss Website Planning and Data Analysis, two imperative topics that will ease the stress of building your new website!