How To Design A Business Website
There has never been an exciting time as today to start a small business with all the tools available to you. However, one of the most agonizing questions that small business owners go through, is how to get their website developed? How much will it cost to develop a small business website? Is it really worth it? Should I get my cousin “Blinky” to do it for me? Show I hire a free lancer? What about those online builders such as Wix.com and Shopfiy.com?
In this post, we will go through the different options available. However, before we start, as a small business owner you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your small business just an experiment, a hobby or a longer term plan and commitment?
- After you get your website developed, do you plan to handle the maintenance yourself?
- Do you plan to grow your website later on to have more functions as they become available in the market (such as chatbots, support systems, coupon systems, add e-commerce, etc) or is this just a small standalone website?
Lets keep these questions in mind as we do the below product comparisons:
Hire A Free Lancer or Web Development Company
Think of your business website as a home. If you are looking for something that is highly customized, and very different from everyone else, then this maybe a great option. It will be expensive, and it will take time, but there may not be a lot of other alternatives. Examples of websites that need to be highly customized are social media/community type websites where a highly level of customization is required. Also websites that require uncommon integrations with old warehousing or CRM systems.
Tips on hiring a free lancer or web development company:
- Document all your requirements before you approach anyone.
- Get at least 4-5 quotes from different parts of the world, although we highly recommend you work with someone in the same location as you.
- Work with a reputable designer / company that has been around for a while. There is nothing worse than working with a company that just disappears off the earth. You may end up with a broken website that has no support.
- Be wary of extremely low prices. Quality web development is time, and skill intensive and if your web developer is not charging you enough it maybe because they are not able to monetize their business which means that they are in danger of folding at any moment.
- Make sure that the developer is building your website on a robust platform such as WordPress that has a huge development community behind it and a lot of people who can help you out in case you need help.
- Ensure that your developer will get proper licenses for all images and software being used on your website. Don’t assume anything, especially when working with companies over seas.
- Make sure you understand the terms of support, and how responsive this vendor is going to be when you need something from them later.
- Make sure you know where your website is going to be hosted. Make sure your website is hosted with a reputable company, but also understand the type of hosting plan you need. Don’t go cheap on hosting. If your website traffic grows, and you want reliable customer experience for your visitors you may want to host on a VPS server, or share a VPS server with someone else.
Do It Yourself Online Builders such as Wix.com and Shopify.com
If you would like to give it a try yourself, there are 2 great companies that have amazing online builders. WIX even has a free tier plan, especially if you are experimenting and don’t have a domain name yet. It is a great way to try their product. Shopify has a free trial period after which you need to pay on monthly basis. Shopify is geared towards e-commerce solutions and helping customers build online e-stores. Before you sign up with them, make sure you understand their fee structure especially around payment processing. WIX also has an E-commerce solution, although at a higher monthly rate.
What we find is amazing about both WIX and Shopify is their amazing infrastructure and high level of automation which allows their customers to build websites quickly. WIX even as an AI technology which helps their users put their websites together.
Both Shopify and WIX have great products, however, they both have two disadvantages:
- Both are built on proprietary technology which means that a website you build on their platforms can not be ported anywhere else. You will be stuck with those companies, even if down the line you get into a dispute with them or become unsatisfied with the product or service.
- Since both are built on proprietary technology, their ability to keep up with the functionality in a place like WordPress app store or plugin store is limited. An open source technology like WordPress has thousands of developers around the world developing new features every day and updating the existing ones. No matter how great online building companies are, they can not keep up with he power of an open source community.