What’s the best way to build a small business website?
In our previous blogs, we’ve discussed why your small business needs a website and a few of the most critical elements to consider when dreaming up the building of a new or reconstructed site. Now the hard part comes - deciding how you’re going to move forward with your website. There are thousands of services to help you build your website on the market and there are some pretty big differences between them. In this article, we’d like to help you understand some of the different options you’ll have to build your site, but also the main pros and cons of each of those options so you can build your website using the best option for your unique business. When you start looking, here are a few ways you can build your website:
Option 1: Outsource it to a fancy agency
When first looking at options to build your new website, you’ll most likely come across hundreds of fancy “web design agencies” that woo you with great designs and graphics. These agencies are in the market for good reason - people are willing to pay way too much money to build a website to get their business noticed. And because web design and coding is not a skill that many business owners possess, they feel that the only option is to go with a company that says things like “award winning” or “stunning digital experiences”. There are some great web design agencies out there that will create amazing websites, but they are expensive.
In order to build a custom website for your business, even if it’s relatively simple and doesn’t have many pages, you can plan on spending $10,000 or more, with many more complex sites costing as much as $40,000. For many small businesses, not only is this number completely out of reach, but even if it could be afforded, would take critical resources from other areas of the business like lead acquisition, adding more products or services, attending critical events, or even paying employees.
Let’s recap the pros and cons of using a big, fancy agency to design your website:
Many of them can design some really great websites.
It will be customized to your business.
Cost - custom websites can cost up to $40,000 to build.
Ongoing maintenance - are you willing to pay up to $250+ per hour to make any changes to your site?
It’s too much - at this point in your business, this type of website is probably overkill for your needs and still takes a lot of time and effort working with your partner agency.
Option 2: Build it yourself
Designing and building a small business website by yourself is definitely the cheapest way to go. There are some great web services on the market that make it easy for non-designers to build a website using free templates, drag-and-drop functionality, and pre-built themes that give a foundation for visuals and color schemes. The real trade off you have with utilizing one of these services is: your time and hassle.
Even though these services were created to help non-technical people build websites, it’s often not quite as easy as many people think. Even with these services, if you run into any issue with the template, it’s on you to figure it out, many times needing to know in-depth coding and design. These services usually offer little in the way of personalization and customization and there are also thousands of people that use these services every year. With only so many pre-built themes and templates, you end up with a website that looks very similar to (or exactly like) other companies in the market. The ability for your business to create a website that reflects and enhances your distinct brand becomes very difficult.
The last thing to consider when building your own website is that everything that comes with having a website now falls onto your shoulders. Hosting services, form building, making all changes to content, finding the plug-ins you might need to know how it’s performing...and much more. With many small business owners already having far too many things to do in a day, these responsibilities often fall down the priority list and get done far later than needed, or worse, don’t get done at all.
Let’s recap the pros and cons of designing your website by yourself:
Cheapest way to get your website built.
There are some easy to use templates and web building sites on the market.
If you’re not well versed in web design, it can still take a lot of time and hassle to build.
Your website will most likely look like thousands of other websites that exist.
You are still the one in charge of making every change you need to your website and it often falls down your priority list.
Option 3: Ask a designer friend for help
Everyone seems to have that one designer friend. The one who’s really good and has their own design business, works for a great agency, or might lead a design team for a well established company. So you think, “Oh, [Designer Friend] is so good at building websites. I bet if I asked them for help, they’d love to help out!”. Spoiler alert: they won’t. Great designers are in high demand and because of that, usually have work up to their ears. Even so, many friends, acquaintances, and even total strangers ask them for “just a little bit of help” to get their website looking great all the time. What they know, though, is that getting a website looking polished and professional is never just “a little bit” of work. Great, experienced designers know that designing is an intensive process that can take several passes to get it just right. And the last thing they want to do is spend their free time doing more design work when really what they want to do is relax and get away from their day job.
Even if they do agree to help, your website will most likely not be a priority for them with all of the other work they have, so getting your website out into the world will be up to their schedule and available time. Are you willing to slow down your business progress because your designer has too much other work to do?
Let’s recap the pros and cons of getting your “designer friend” to help you build a site:
Your designer friend could be really good and help you build a great looking site.
Hopefully your designer charges you less than market rate and you can save some money over other professional agencies.
Your designer friend probably doesn’t want to help you build a site.
The timing of your website build and release will be dependent on the workload of your designer and how much free time they have (which probably isn’t much).
If you need to make changes after your site is designed, you have to keep going back to your friend (you’re definitely getting annoying at this point).
Option 4: Use a cost effective, professional design and management service
The best option for most small businesses to get a professional, polished, custom website designed quickly and affordably is to use a service that specializes in building websites for small and emerging businesses. They know how important it is to any small business to have a great website because generally, they’re one too. They are eager to help people get their business on the path to success and work hard to create a website that will showcase your products, services, and past work to make you look like you’re the best offering in the market.
These companies also have done this many times so they can create quality websites very quickly. They have worked with businesses and know what questions to ask to understand the brand and personality of your business and can translate that into the best website design possible. It doesn’t take them weeks or months to draw out and execute a long winded project plan. Companies like Moby can take your request and turn it into a working website, that you’d be proud to show to the world, in a fraction of the time as a big, fancy agency or building it yourself (with or without your designer friend).
Pro tip: When looking for this type of service, see what their maintenance plan is. Some companies design the first version of the site and set you off only to charge an arm and a leg any time you want to change content or text, headlines, pictures, or add a new page. They get you with a low up front price and they know that you don’t have the skills to make changes yourself. So they make their real money on doing that for you.
Let’s recap the pros and cons of a specialized small business website design service:
They can build a professional, customized small business website for you that reflects your brand and personality.
Often, they take care of work needed after the initial website design like hosting services, an email address, changes to the site, etc. in one package and price.
They’re a small business like you, so they know how important it is for you to have an amazing website.
They are the most cost effective option for your business when you weigh quality of service and work you receive and the associated cost.
They’re not the cheapest option.
There are some companies that are better than others - do your research!
Now that you know the major options to consider when building or reconstructing your website, it’s time to go forth and build! If you’re interested in creating a customized, professional website that will keep your visitors and prospects engaged and impressed, reach out to the Moby team. One of Moby’s team members will give a free consultation on how to create a website that will help your unique business achieve it’s short-term and long-term goals.