The world is changing. 20 years ago you could get away with not having a website, but today, if you have a business you need a website. Whether you have a small online or a brick and mortar business, you need a website.
According to a Pew Research report, among American 77% go online daily almost constantly. They are looking for games, entertainment and information. Personally, when I hear about a restaurant or coffee house I check their online footprint. Do they have a website, is it user friendly, how are their ratings on Facebook, what are people saying, etc.
Your online footprint is important and it begins with your website.
As a business owner (or aspiring business owner) you need to position yourself so that consumers can find you. But with all the options there are on creating a website, where do you begin, where do you go, should you:
Create your own Website
Use a drag-and-drop Website Builder
Or hire someone
Deciding between these options can be overwhelming. So consider, the first two options are DIY options and more budget friendly, the last option can be a bit pricey but it definitely brings in a lot of value.The decision is not an easy one and there is no one fits all option. But, depending on your budget and time you might just find the one that best works for you. So, I have written a brief explanation about each option to try and help you choose. I have tried all three options and have found the one that works best for me and hopefully you will too.
Create Your Own Website - by buying and customizing a website template
This first option is a good one if you have the time and patience to do it. I have found this option to:
Have a steep learning curve
A little confusing (if you don’t know what you are doing)
Rewarding when you have completed your website
Whether it is using the WordPress or the cPanel, for me the learning curve was a bit steep. And not because I can’t do it or spend the time on YouTube looking at tutorials, but I got very frustrated with all the options and trying to remember where to edit my site. These things, plus my impatience, really frustrated me and took a lot of time. That was my experience but it doesn’t have to be yours.
It can be done.
If you’re a “do-it-yourself” person than you’re chances of being successful are high. So what do you need to do?
You need to find a template that best suits your needs. By buying a template that works best for your type of business, the changes that need to be done will be minimal and probably limited to things like content and adding images. In this way you won’t have to make any changes to the code. Price wise, this option can run you a couple hundred up-front. If your budget is really tight I would go with the second option, which I will discuss later. But otherwise it is affordable.
The costs that will be incurred with this option are:
Template-$14 to hundreds
Hosting-starting at around $2
Domain Name-$10 to $15/yearly
Buying the template, can be anywhere from $14 to over a hundred. And hosting, can range from $2 and up. The thing to keep in mind is that a lot of hosting companies require you to pay this up-front and for the first 6 to 12 months. It comes out cheaper if you pay 12 months or more. And they have added fees which are itemized and not that expensive, stuff like SSL certification and domain privacy, hence the couple hundred up-front estimate.
When buying the template look for something that is up-to-date in terms of design. You don’t want an outdated design, that will discourage potential clients and won’t be responsive (Google penalizes that). You also need to know a little about the different website themes. There’s WordPress, Html, eCommerce, etc. (there are a lot). And they all have different functions. If you are going to start a blog it might be easier just to pick WordPress as your website platform just because there are so many tutorials and information out there, but you also need to understand what would work best for your business.
If, for example, you have a restaurant. You probably won’t need a blog as its primary function. But your website should have things like your menu, reservations, location, hours, contact, etc. If you have a store, an eCommerce platform would work best in terms of functionality.
And you will need hosting. The hosting can be affordable it just depends on the package and company. There are sites that allow you to pay on a monthly basis and some that don’t. But even if they let you pay monthly, I would pay the full year. Here’s why. By paying the full year you won’t have to worry about whether or not your site was shut down because you forgot to pay or because you don’t have enough funds. It’s also more cost effective paying the year. Why? Because paying for the full year, the month of hosting is less, let’s say $3 a month, the year will come out to, 3*12=36, this is not including registering your domain name or any other extra expenses. Whereas if you choose to pay on a monthly basis the hosting company might charge $6, also not including extras, you end up paying $72 a year. And, by signing up for the full year, some companies give you a 40% off deal. So, it ends up being cheaper.
When you go to pay for hosting other options will come up as well, added fees for SSL certification domain name registration and other extras the hosting company will offer.
You can buy the template first or the hosting, it’s all pretty quick whichever one you choose. If you buy the template before or after it doesn’t really matter because you’ll be downloading it to your computer.
There are a lot of good hosting companies out there and the basics are pretty much the same. They all include the same steps and services.
Register or transfer domain name
Choose a plan
Choose any extras you want to have like extra security, domain privacy protection, etc
Fill out billing
Some plans have you choose a hosting plan first and then go to the other steps, others have a “get started now” button. Usually after you click on the button you will still be able to change the plan while you are on the set-up page. After you pay uploading the template and figuring out where to edit your site can get confusing, but with a phone call to the help or support number you can change it. Don’t be afraid to call the helpline, that’s what it’s there for and they are nice and very helpful!
Use a Drag-and-Drop Website Builder
Personally, this is my favorite option. Everything is user friendly, the learning curve is not that steep, they are constantly updating their websites and they are very responsive.
This is another great option for you “do it yourselfers”. And there are several popular drag-and-drop web builders out there.
Just to name a few:
Wix (I currently use)
ThriveThemes (for wordpress)
Using a drag-and-drop web builder is easier than customizing your own template. The templates they have are beautiful, up-to-date, and these companies are constantly working to make the website responsive and they add a lot of cool add-ons that help you build and grow your business. All their templates are customizable and you can easily add a blog. If you know a bit of coding you can even make changes at the coding level.
They also have video tutorials, blogs, how to’s, all to help you customize your template and start selling.
Hire a Web Designer
If you don’t have the time, aren’t a DIYer and have a higher budget, you can get your website fully customized. This option anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 or more, depending on your need. Granted you can add this into your business plan and include it in your financing needs. That would be ideal.
This options is very hands off, you talk to the designer and they create something that covers your needs, wants, specifications, etc. And that’s great! You just sit back and work on the other parts of your business. However, if you need any changes done it can get tricky. You may need to hire back the designer or pay monthly maintenance fee to have them add, delete, or fix any issues. These fees can run anywhere from $20 to $200, depending on your need. $1,000 to $3,000 or more, may seem like a lot, but that’s what a fully customized website runs for.
These are a few options that you, as an entrepreneur has. When deciding which to chose consider your time, your need, and your budget. There are ways to attract customers without having a full blown website running, but that’ll be on the next blog.
Write your comments below, have you had any similar experiences?