Low Cost Websites – Don’t Get Tangled in the Web
We know you need to be out there. On that World-wide Web. Pulling customers towards you like there was no tomorrow. But you have to be careful, getting on-line can be a costly process. What you have to ensure is that it isn't any more costly than it has to be whilst at the same time you've got to understand that doing things on the cheap might be a pointless, ineffective exercise if its not done right. With this in mind lets discuss the prime danger areas when implementing your new web-site.
Don't try this at home! (kids)
A comment like this might look like it was sponsored by the United Web-site Designers Federation but it is, in fact, probably good advice. Unless you're pretty switched on in all things.... webby then it'll be money well spent getting someone who knows what there doing to design your site (particularly with search engine optimisation in mind). Beware the DIY route. Its not a personal criticism but there's a more than fair chance your home-made site just WON'T GET FOUND. Crazy but true.
Understand what you want from your site
Be clear in your own mind from the outset what you want your site to do. Do you want it to generate revenue, spotlight your services favourably or simply offer an addition means of contact? The more basic your requirements, the less you should be thinking about paying- it may well be that your internet links with customers are minimal therefore you really only want a site that in fairness doesn't look stupid.
If you're selling directly from your site however, then attention will have to be paid to the way the products or services are presented. Quality images and persuasive language are the keys here. Do the pages encourage the customer to buy? With all this in mind make sure you only pay for what you need!
Watch out for free sites, cheap web-builder tools, and up-selling
Free sites don't cost anything for a reason. They are (relatively speaking) untailored to your needs and, like a lot of those home-made efforts, just won't get found. Basically, you get what you pay for. Be careful of 'Upselling' too. A lot of hosts offer free sites and cheap software then lure you with faster speeds and larger servers that all sound cool and sexy.... but ask yourself the question; do i really need these things? For rest assured, you will most certainly be paying for them.
Spend your money on SEO
If you're driving your business on-line then search-engine optimisation is paramount. We've already established that you'll want Google to index your site and rate it well. Being particular with your on-page content together with your 'off-page' meta-tags is therefore important. Remember that search engine's crawl all over your site so beware of dull pages like terms and conditions/ contacts pages that fail to enhance your rating.
Pay attention to what SEO is offered as part of your price. You need to be found after all. Your 'on-page' considerations should be part of the purchase price; the ongoing 'off-page' considerations probably wont be.
Training and support
If you have the cash at your disposal, you'll be well advised to consider a maintenance arrangement with your designer. This has the obvious attractions of letting you get on with your business without having the additional burden of keeping your web-site up to date and efficient. If, however, like many businesses, every pound is a prisoner then you'll be more interested in the level of training available as part of the initial cost allowing you to content manage your site yourself.
Organised training isn't so much of a concern if your site is build on Wordpress as this platform is pretty easy to find your way around (there are excellent books and training videos available) For other more bespoke platforms though, a firm knowledge of html and programming will be necessary - for most individuals this is realistically a non-starter and should be avoided.
Types of site
Finally we felt it would be useful to consider the types and sizes of sites you may be considering with a rough guide to how much you should be thinking of paying. Obviously these prices and descriptions are a guide only with everyone's requirements being slightly different;
- A basic site about you offering a description of your products and services as well as a means of contact. Estimated at 6 pages and assuming images are provided by the client, £500- £1,000 will not be unreasonable.
- As above with picture galleries, video output and bigger catalogue space may cost £750 - £1,000
- A basic site as above created on a template with substantial input by the client in terms of text and images may be available from £250 - £500 if you shop around.
- An e-commerce site incorporating catalogues, shopping carts, means of payment and generally a means of managing on-line sales will probably cost £1,000 upwards depending on functionality and levels of support offered (as discussed above).