Every entrepreneur would agree that owning a business without having a website in 2018 could be considered as a pure anachronism. Benefits of a website for small business are a dozen, starting from recognizability and credibility (88% of business owners agreed that owning a website helped them grow and scale their business) up to competitive advantages — 8 out of 10 customers are looking for services or goods on the internet, 3 of them actually make purchases here. These factors prompt considering to create small business website already if you still don’t have one.
Making a Website: Two Approaches
There are two standard ways of creating something, applicable for websites too, — doing it yourself or having someone do it for you, each having its strong and weak sides and suitable for different circumstances.
The Do-It-Yourself Approach
Different ways to build a website by yourself are available now — the traditional approach with highly customizable, CMS-integrated WordPress engine and drag-n-drop website constructors, slowly eclipsing the traditional methods. Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly allow the user to assemble a website from scratch using pre-made themes, layouts and some must-have functionality such as Contact us and About us pages — yet they usually lack something too important if built on free plan, like limited customization options or inconvenient domain and hosting plans as well as being too hard or even impossible to be properly optimised for search engines.
Paid and premium plans might cost you a few times more in perspective to keep the website running well, rather than spending few hundreds initially for decent WordPress theme, plugins, hosting and domain, and somewhere around $80 to keep it up and running annually later.
WordPress seems like the best option when you have enough time to learn some basics and care about customizing your website’s look and performance in the closest future. Throughout the years, the platform has recommended itself as being highly SEO-friendly and well optimized, promising fast load times and good search ranging (given that you’ve spent enough time to tune it properly). That means you’d spend less than on premium themes and subscription plans in perspective just to keep it alive.
Worth to mention too, scaling your business with a website made using drag-n-drop constructors is ten times harder than the one built on WordPress or any other decent engine like Drupal or Joomla. However, remember to keep in mind that building yourself a website from scratch requires tens or even hundreds (don’t round your eyes, you’ve read it right) of working hours to get from zero to a somewhat acceptable look and functionality.
The Professional Approach
The second option is finding a freelancer or a web development agency to create a small business website, which is much less time consuming than building it yourself and being much more resource-dependent yet promising fast and qualitative result. Hiring a person who has a certain expertise in the field and has already delivered this kind of service to other customers looks like a much more efficient way to spend your time and money while promising a better outcome, but still has its pitfalls.
Professional website development is always about teamwork and cooperation among the designer and web developer — ideally, they have to be used to each other and aware of each other’s work methods and qualities, and single players like freelancers might be pretty hard to get cooperating properly, not even to say about choosing those that fit your needs and budget.
Web development companies are in plenty nowadays — finding one is a matter of minutes, but deciding on who you should hire is much harder. Some of them boast great expertise and years of experience, offer straight-forward pricing plans without even asking you any questions about your business and having a proper portfolio (but all the pop-up bells and whistles on their website), some come with modest-looking one and simply offer to contact them for an estimate.
An arising question on who to go with is not a topic to be discussed just in one sentence or paragraph, because each case is unique and individual, yet remember few points to hold on:
- Do your best to avoid agencies charging numbers straightforward, without even showing an interest in your product or business, that’s definitely a red flag;
- Share as much information about your business as you can in order to get exactly what you need;
- Be sure to ask the ones you are eager to hire about their completed projects. Seeing the portfolio yourself might be the key deciding point — if you like the way the websites look and behave and the estimate given fits your budget, mind sticking to them.
Pricing: Factors Involved
As it was laid out, your main resource and key factor when approaching a website development for small business the Do-It-Yourself way is time. Being an entrepreneur in an urgent need for internet presence might be not the best time to dive into a severe cobweb of web development subtleties. Long story short, setting up a website from scratch by yourself would cost approximately:
- Domain — expect to spend around $10-15 annually for most of the domains like .com or .org;
- Hosting — prices to host a website range from annual $100 for shared hosting plans to about $500 for dedicated ones;
- Theme — $0-200, there are plenty of free pre-made WordPress themes to choose from, however, they mostly look pretty poor and it’s easily indicated as a sign that you’ve saved on your website’s look, so spending some time to get a decent and unique theme and a designer to tailor it is certainly worth the effort;
- Plugins — websites built on WordPress lack too much functionality if they have no plugins integrated. The good thing is, there are thousands of them available, some free, some paid. Set aside around $150 for premium plugins, because they mean a lot to how the website works and behaves and some of them are simply essential;
- Content — it’s hard to imagine a website without any text or images inside, agree? Considering that you are building your first website, copywriting services might be the next expense — most of them charge $10-25 per hour or per page. Mind adding some high-quality photos or graphics, that’s a thing to pay for, too — buying some from photo stocks will do. That’s a total of around $100 for writing services and about $10 to get some decent visuals;
- Post-launch expenses — mind setting aside a few hundred ($200-300) for website maintenance services (acquiring an SSL security in case you’ll be getting high traffic) and basic marketing features like SEO services and PPC advertising campaigns.
An average and decent web development agency usually charge from $1500 to $6500 for creating a new website for small business completely from scratch. The listed pricing range is approximately average, depending on what you wish your website should have, with starting point at brochure type functionality, usually having no more than 5-6 pages (it is worth to mention that coding and implementing additional website pages most of the times costs around $150 per page), and ending with website with some additional functionality embedded, like Google maps integration or basic eCommerce features.