There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Unless one knows the facts, clever marketing can make anything seem possible!
Some of my clients first tried the 'free' website route and then came to me, because they experienced at least one of the following:
- They realised that the annual fees they were being charged were over the top when they compared other company's hosting charges and domain registration charges.
- Their website was not being found by the search engines and what's the point of that?
- The functionality on offer for the free version was so basic that they could not portray their products or services effectively.
- They could not grow the website to reflect what was happening offline in the company.
- The free period was only for one year and the after-sales service was non-existant.
- Their website was 'down' a lot of the time or took forever to load.
- The email package included was very limiting.
- They realised that a well designed site has the means to grow with the company and when it is found by search engines, it pays for itself many times over.
- Many of the free pieces of functionality on offer, like Google places registration, are free anyway.
- Many of the free pieces of functionality are not offered, like analytics.
What should you be paying for a website?
- The only annual fees should be for hosting the website and renewing the domain name (the URL).
- You should not be charged to update your website content yourself.
- There is a cost to design and build a website and this fee largely depends on whether you choose a starter or business package as it relates to the size of the website and the level of functionality included.
- If you choose to expand the functionality of the website, post build, to include an online shop for eCommerce or simply add more sections or other functionality, this extra work would have fees associated with it and the amount depends on the extent of the work required.
Can you move your website to a new provider?
- The domain name can certainly be moved, as that is yours, even if the company hosting your current website registered it for you.
- The existing company must sign this over to you and the new website hosting company will register it for you.
- You will find that the actual website cannot be moved if built using proprietary in-house systems.
- What you can do is copy all the text you created and make offline documents from them. These documents can then be used for the new website.
- You can also save all your photos to your computor and use these on the new website.
What should your experience be like?
Why not beam from ear to ear everytime you:
- see your site online
- receive another online order
- realise that your website is working 24/7 for you
- remember your brand is global
How do you go about getting a website built for you?
- Look at other websites to help you decide what you want for yours. This includes identifying what you don't like.
- Analyse your competition to see what they are doing and what you may do differently.
- Categorise the content areas you want displayed logically - this will be similar to the company structure.
- This categorising process will help you to identify:
- how big the site needs to be
- whether everything is included upfront or earmarks areas of future growth.
- Site architecture (the structure of the pages and the content sections) is important for search engine optimisation (SEO) and your website designer should help you organise these effectively for both SEO and usability purposes.
- Think about how you want to integrate your online experience into the realm of social media. This is an important area to get right and depends on the nature of the business.
- Examples of how to use social media:
- Facebook is a great way to showcase a product in the form of images, polls, discussions.
- Twitter is great for discussions, promotions, vouchers.
- Youtube is very powerful if you can video the product in action or explain its workings.
- Pinterest is great for sharing images of products.
- In addition to choosing which social media to use, how far do you want it integrated into the website and the business?
Once you have an understanding of what you want your website to do for you:
- Look for website designers that can give you what you want.
- Look at working examples of their designs and see what others have to say about them on these same social media sites.
- Be aware of what you think and feel when moving around their websites.
- How long does it take you to find what you want on the website?
- Did you enjoy the online experience?
- Have a meeting to see if you gel with them.
- Do they really understand what you want?
- Find out what is included in their design package.
- Can they give you what you want; now and the for the future of your website?
If you would like to meet with us to discuss your website design, please get in touch.