Sometimes it’s pretty hard to see through all the noise and determine whether creating a website for your business is a good or bad thing. In this article we will seek to establish firstly why a website for small business owners should be considered. Secondly, what is a business website and should you consider how to make a business website on your own for free.
You may say “I want a website for my business”.
Whether it’s searching on google or simply listening to a podcast. It seems like everyone is telling you that a key to a successful business is to have a website. Certainly there have been tens of thousands of business owners pursuing a business structure which places a website front and centre.
To do this from scratch is very hard and like any business a substantial amount of planning is required. With the chance of creating noise like mentioned earlier in this article it is a fact that websites are often the key to a business success. Let’s look at some statistics and see if we can prove this statement.
1. 1.79 billion people bought products online last year.
2. 64% prefered to buy in store than online but 60% of millennials make purchases online.
3. In the USA, offline still accounts for 92% of purchases but online has steadily risen since 2007.
4. Amazon accounts for 40% of U.S.A. ecommerce sales.
5. Ecommerce sales are predicted to reach 4.8 trillion USD by 2021.
The take away from these statistics might be that online sales among millenials is likely to grow consistently fast over the next few decades. As baby boomers start to reach old age, the impact of online sales can only increase. Thus, an online presence and creating a website for your business must be considered if you would like to future proof your business.
Creating a website for your business for free.
One of the great attributes of most business owners is that they generally have the ability to eliminate unnecessary costs. Even so, with such a reduction comes a need to analyse the quality of the resource you have saved on.
Often, but not always, it could be said that you get what you pay for. Recently I bought a sleeping bag from a budget face to face retail store and the first time I used it the zip broke. After buying another one at triple the cost it seems like it has been constructed with a great deal more care. Time will tell whether it will last longer or not.
Such purchases are very similar with a website. There used to be a number of providers that allowed you to put together a website for free. In today’s online environment they are few and far between. Probably the rise of facebook and other social media organisations has contributed to this fact.
Having a facebook business page or establishing a page on google are both free and probably not bad strategies. Even so, if you want to impact the online community even in your local area they should be only a part of your online presence.
Local search websites.
If using google and facebook is the only thing you do in a local market. Potentially you will still reach a number of clients. The success of these interfaces will be determined by how much offline marketing is done. For example, if you make a facebook webpage and don’t tell anyone about it then the visits are likely to be very small or even non existent.
The page will only be listed well on google local search if they receive a number of social signals. This is where hundreds or even thousands of people visit the page every month. No visits then probably no listing. This is where online and offline marketing meet.
What is a business website?
This seems like a simple question, but a business website has a number of important functions and will only be successful if you put the time and money into it. Behind every website, especially content management systems (C.M.S.), is coding. Generally in HTML, CSS, JAVA and PHP. The quality of this coding can determine how well a website will be listed on the search engines. Also the quality of the user experience.
Such user experience is said to be a significant factor in Google rankings which is determined by their algorithms. These algorithms are top secret but a number of search engine optimization (S.E.O.) organisations are continually analysing the internet to determine changes to this algorithm.
A well coded website is another important factor and together C.M.S. like wordpress is critical. A business website is simply an online interface that is manipulated to showcase the business or not for profit. It must be well designed and suit the organisation it represents.
The information must be complete and well structured. This structure includes optimisation for the search engines but must also answer the users questions. If a website is poorly structured the user is likely to bounce right over to another website that does answer their questions.
Back to the main question “creating a website for your business”?
As an overall marketing strategy the website seems to be key. I think we have established that. If you would like to future proof your business then a well constructed website will play a critical part of such a strategy. Building a great website takes time and this is where the difference between mediocre and great comes in.
If a design company indicates they can build a complete website for as little as $1000 then you will probably get what you pay for. The hourly rate for a professional company could range from $55 per hour to $200 and more per hour.
In general it takes a minimum of around 38 to 45 hours to complete a business website project. If you divide $1000 by say 38 the hourly rate would be approximately $26. A web developer with years of experience and specific and specialist qualification, designed to give you a great functional website, is going to require an hourly rate of more than $55 per hour. Even this would be the bottom end of the wage range. This doesn’t take into account specialist services that might be used like content writers etc.
Setting up a website is generally a one off expense and should start at around $2895 ($695 cost & $2200 labour costs). As a guide the following is a very brief overview of what it takes to establish the website.
Step 1. Quotation and project agreement established.
Step 2. Face to face meeting – either online or visit to your business (4 to 8 hours).
Step 3. Establish goals and strategies.
Step 4. CMS framework setup, sitemap and mockup.
Step 5. Design Setup, client feedback and make changes.
Step 6. Content writing, videos/audio and image optimization (upload content).
Step 7. Upload to server, code optimization and SEO.
Step 8. Final production, test and deploy website.
Step 9. Testing and launch with any bug fixes rectified asap.
Step 10. Provide training sessions for clients.
Step 11. Performance monitoring and general maintenance I.e. updating.
There are millions of websites on the internet but only a small percentage of them are designed for the user experience. Free and poorly coded websites generally will never rank highly on google. Talking with your website design company and understanding business strategies that work are as important as building the website itself.
Before you make a decision about using a web development company or not. Do some research on Google and look at business website examples, listing those you like. Talk with a reputable website design company and try to understand the entire process. There are a number of short courses on websites and wordpress out there – may be participate in one of these. Creating a website for your business is simply a process that must be followed. Good luck.