Hey there, this blog post is going to come off 100% like I’m trying to sell you paying more money for web services and I’d NEVER do that…Alright I probably would do that on account of the fact that I’m a web designer. Of course I think my services are valuable. If I didn’t I probably wouldn’t be in the line of work that I’m in. In this post however I hope to address some of the hesitations small business owners have in spending their hard earned money on web services.
Fact of the matter is, you can get your small business’s website designed and developed by just about anybody these days. Godaddy’s saying you can create a website yourself in less than an hour, you got Wix out here saying the same shit, then you got little Timmy over on 4th street who’s pumping out websites from his parent’s garage for 99 cents and a blow pop. I’m not knocking these things because first off, little Timmy’s a damn entrepreneur with low operating costs, and secondly because these tools have their place. If you can get a quality website built for cheap I’m in no way knocking that. I get things as cheap as I can too but, if the thing I’m purchasing needs to be reliable and will greatly affect my business negatively or positively then there’s a certain level of quality I’ll require.
Many small business owners don’t understand everything that goes into a successful website. That’s no fault of their own, they run a business and unless that business is a web design or development business then they’ve probably never had a need for that kinda knowledge. As a business owner you lean on other people like accountants, lawyers, marketing professionals, and such to make up for things you aren’t well versed in. If you’re not well versed in web design, web development, or search engine optimization then you should absolutely seek out a professional in this field that can help you. The initial cost might seem steep if you don’t understand what goes into it, but that’s what I’m going to break down for you here today. So let’s get into what goes into a professionally designed and developed website.
1. Professional, Research Supported, Ground Up Design
What the hell does that mean? I’m glad I asked me for you….I think that’s right….anyway what it means is that a professional web designer isn’t going to just slap some graphics together, throw your logo on it and say derrr that’ll be three thousand dollars. A true professional will research your brand, your market, your niche within that market and then take these things and combine them into a web design that is not only good looking but also easy to use, functional, and draws attention to your company’s strengths.
By “Ground Up Design” I mean they’re not using a template. Anybody can log on to template monster or theme forest and find a decent looking theme and slap your info and your brand on it and call it a day. What I notice most with this technique is it’s kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole. Sure the theme could be suited for your market or your niche but you always seem to sense the theme’s limits. A web design that’s built from the ground up is custom tailored to suit the needs of your small business. This is always a more effective route and this way you know your getting something that’s uniquely yours.
2. Clean, Responsive, Standard Compliant, Front End Development
So Front End Development is the code that creates all the elements you see in a website. It’s the code that generates the structure of the website, calls in the graphic files, sets the colors and fonts, etc. Whereas Back End Development is the code that runs all the functions and processes. If a website has to run math operations, send emails, collect and store information in a database, etc. then it’s doing that on what’s called the “back end”. If that doesn’t clear that up then drop me a line and I’ll try to do a better job explaining it.
If your Front End Development is “clean” and “standard compliant” all that means is that it’s done in a way that allows your website to load quickly and display properly across all devices (cell phones, tablets, and desktops). This is important both to how your users will see your small business’s website but also to your search engine optimization efforts. A website that loads slow and isn’t responsive to screen size will be punished in the search results. You can start to see how some of this stuff compounds into a real headache. That’s why it’s always best to start with a good foundation.
A good majority of a websites search engine optimization resides in front end development. If you have a professional working on your site, they should be very aware of this. A professional should be properly optimizing images, making sure their code is clean and unbroken, ensuring proper keywords are used throughout header tags and image alt tags, among other things. If you have little Timmy doing your website, he’s probably just hoping it works and looks the way he wants it to by the time he’s done.
3. Powerful, Need Specific, Functions and Features
The mark of a true professional is his or her ability to custom tailor your site’s functions to your needs. Your business’s website should work for you. You should have a goal in mind of what you expect from it and your website should be able to achieve that goal. Many small business’s are just trying to attract more customers but even if that’s the only goal, you can leverage the abilities of a competent web developer to turbo charge your efforts. Maybe you want to integrate your mailchimp account so you can collect client emails and build an email marketing campaign. Maybe you want to collect user information to provide them a custom quote. Maybe you want your social media profiles or google analytics integrated into your website so you can better connect with your client base and see who’s visiting your website. A website should be used for more than just displaying your company’s phone number and address.
4. Years of Knowledge and Experience
If you seek out a professional you should know that you’re not only getting their skills but also their knowledge. That’s not something that’s acquired overnight or in a month even. Most of us have years of industry experience, a college education, and a real interest in this field. How can you expect your website to compete functionally or visually if it’s created by someone who’s only been working on it part time. You know how much knowledge you gained creating and developing your small business, do you think someone who’s only been working on it a month could do just as good a job as you? Probably not.
5. Website Implementation, Security, and More
Designing and developing a website is an important task but it’s not doing anything for you until you implement it. This involves getting an account with Siteground or GoDaddy and pushing your newly created website to a live server, pointing a domain name at it, and making your website secure. If you’re collecting sensitive information from your users then you’ll absolutely need an SSL Certificate in order to protect that information. In fact, if you don’t protect that information, you could not only put your users at risk but you can put yourself at risk of a lawsuit.
It’s important to know what you’re getting into with certain web servers too. Shared hosting servers are the cheapest usually but it’s not without it’s faults. You run the risk of your website becoming infected with malware on a shared server. You’ll also notice an increased server response time. Since the shared hosting server has to split resources between all the sites on it, you’re website could respond slower than if it were on it’s own dedicated server. The difference might not mean much to you but it’s helpful to know what you’re getting yourself into.
6. Hosting and Continuity
You’re website is a living breathing thing and as such it requires a place to exist. The best way I can explain this is, if you’re flyer design lives on the piece of paper you printed it on, then your website lives on a web server. This is something that you’ll pay for monthly. Now not all monthly packages are created equal. They can vary depending on the amount of attention and resources they require if they exist at all. Most times if you’re using a family friend or a neighbor, they won’t want to host the website, they’ll either put it on a server that you then have to monitor or they’ll just hand you the files and step away.
Down time isn’t cool, it’s the opposite of cool, I feel like I don’t have to explain this one as in depth as I did the rest of these points.
Point of this whole post isn’t to talk you into spending a million dollars on your website. The money you spend on your website is usually front loaded, meaning it’ll seem a little pricey up front but it’s a one time cost. Unless of course you try to cut corners (F#@%ING name drop, roll the credits) then you could spend your money twice, thrice, even four times. If you do it right the first time and seek out a real professional, you’ll only spend your money once and you’ll have a powerful tool that’ll help your business immensely.