As we get closer to the New Year, some of you may be thinking about saving up for a new website or sprucing-up your current one. With so many options to choose from, it can be really confusing to figure out what type of website will work best for you and it varies from business to business.
I’ve discovered while working with my own clients, that no two projects are alike and most of my clients usually have a specific set of needs that require a custom solution.
But launching a website isn’t as easy as those commercials and ads on YouTube can lead you to think. If you aren’t careful you can spend endless hours searching the web for plug-ins and apps (that you don’t really understand), attending “so-so” workshops or sitting through yet another “ad-hock” video tutorial.
All you’re really looking for is a simple, affordable solution and you now find yourself even more confused than when you started. Well here’s the good news.
You don’t have to try and figure all of “this stuff” out on your own and you actually have two viable options. You can either hire someone to build a website for you or if you’re on a budget you can keep trying to get something up on your own using one of the many site builders out there.
Now I personally feel this has a lot to do with what your current needs and budget are – so let’s take a look at this from a slightly different angle.
Don’t Wait to Save Up for Something “Really Nice”
If you have a brand new business or if you’re on a “tight” budget then a site builder may be the best option for you right now.
You’re most likely short on time right now, because you’re putting all of your energy into networking, getting your business organized and bringing some money coming in the door right now. I’m a small business owner too and I feel your pain.
Having said that, I would not advise you to go too long without a website. If the only reason you don’t have a website is because you’re short on cash and you want to save up for something “really nice” – get a site builder pronto! Having a website is vital to establishing your credibility and generating new business.
A site builder like Squarespace or Weebly is a good way to get something up and running, but understand that you don’t just “set it and forget it”. Websites are supposed to change and grow with your business.
Get the basics up with pages that show who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you and then pivot your focus on building a marketing and promotion strategy.
Once you start working on marketing your new business – you will discover very quickly the role your website and social media will play in your business and you don’t want a lack of funds to keep you from seizing good business opportunities. That’s why site builders can be a good option for startups are people with a limited budget.
Now while site builders are an affordable option, please keep in mind that you still don’t “own” your site. You’re essentially just renting out space and you’re limited to the features and services that a particular platform has to offer.
Hosting your own site with a reliable web host (like GoDaddy or Blue Host) gives you the flexibility and freedom to build a more customized site. You can use a content management system (like WordPress) to build just about any site you want.
These systems open up a massive amount of possibilities with regards to features through a wide variety of plugins at very affordable prices.
But what if you’re well past the start-up phase and you need something more robust and complex?
Let a Designer Help You Navigate the Web
If you have very specific needs for your business, like keeping customer account profiles private, automating bookings or reservations or having the ability to fully integrate and automate your ecommerce logistics and marketing campaigns from within your site, then you will need a more significant upgrade and should hire a designer to help you navigate that process. This is not something you want to do alone.
Site builders can only do so much and more complex websites hosted on these platforms can typically cost twice as much to design and host. All the extra bells and whistles can add up quickly.
Even if they do offer custom design and support – it will cost as much as hiring your own designer. But again – I can’t stress enough the fact that you don’t own it. Why would you keep investing money in something you don’t own?
Now I know some of you are saying,’Well I don’t own GoDaddy either.’ and while that is true – GoDaddy has been around for 20 years. I’ve seen my fair share of site builders come and go. It is not uncommon to see them merge with a larger company or go out of business entirely.
As a matter of fact, I will rarely recommend a product or service in the digital space that has not been around for at least 8 – 10 years, because of the unpredictable nature of the digital software marketplace.
Web hosts have been around for decades and they’re perhaps the most stable and still the most affordable part of the industry. My two cents? If you’re going to take any risks – take it with a good designer and a reliable web host in tow.
Launching a website can be a fun but big undertaking. You’ve got a business to run and customers to serve, the last thing you want to do is create another headache for yourself.
Like I said at the beginning of this post – the choice is ultimately yours. But try not to overthink it because you’ll only feel completely overwhelmed and do nothing. You can do this. Take a breath, figure out what your current needs and budget are and then go from there.
Now it’s your turn. You know I LOVE feedback and I want to hear from you 🙂
Question: What’s the biggest concern you have about launching a website for your business? The costs? The upkeep? The R.O.I? Share your questions and comments below.
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