A How to Guide to Doing it Right
By Scott Lester
Your Website is Your Online Identity
A website is like a building. It has function and form, with aspects that are both utilitarian and aesthetic. Think of it as a business storefront much like the building on Main Street. Just like something built of bricks or boards, it can be thrown together with little care for detail, or it can be carefully, thoughtfully and professionally designed.
Just like a building, an owner can hire a qualified architect and contractor with the knowledge and experience to do the job right, or, an owner can try to do it themselves. This effort at saving money usually ends up costing the business in the long run.
A building can be a good investment – if it’s done right. Or, it can be a terrible investment, because the final result lacks both good function and form that didn’t drive profitable sales. So, although there might have been some “savings” in doing the job “on the cheap,” the money that was spent was probably wasted because it produced little or no return on the investment. Here’s what you have to do:1. Participate in Creating Your Website.
If you want a great website, then you want to get it right the first time. That means your web designer will need investment from you of both time and money. After all, who knows your customers and your goals better than you? It’s like getting a new building for your business. You want your “website building” to be a good fit for you and your customers.2. Find A Local Web Designer
Let’s assume you are a small business owner in Montana. You can spend days building it through online service, or, you can work with a firm based in Australia or India, or, you can find a local designer. First off, you’re better off with someone who knows your market and can see your business. Someone on the ground can also help you gather content. Finally, understanding the market is essential to creating an effective web presence—especially if your market is local. There are several things you need to consider when hiring a web design firm in Montana. What should you look for?3. Find a Professional Web Designer or Firm
Certainly, you may find someone who is willing to build a website exactly the way you request and for whatever you’re willing to pay. But, chances are, you’re going to end up with something self-prescribed that may not be what gets customers to buy. It would be similar if you were the general contractor overseeing the construction of a new building for your business. Although the subs report to you and you get what you want, it is hugely time consuming. What’s more, the end result cost much more and had lower quality than if you’d hired an experienced general contractor to oversee the project.
A professional webmaster would begin by developing a thorough understanding of your business and what you will need before recommending the scope of a project. Your website designer should be your partner in identifying your market and determining how to attract them to your website, meet their needs, and converting them into paying customers. Finally, a professional is someone with some experience in the online world with an understanding of business strategy, operations, marketing and sales.4. Look for Quality in Their Work
Quality shows, and, when it comes to websites, quality sells. Before choosing a website designer, take a good look at the work they’ve done for others. Are the sites visually appealing? Is it easy to find the answers to questions? Is the content easy to read and understand? If you like what you see in the firm’s other work, you’re probably going to like what you see in a site they build for you.5. Try to Find Realistic Pricing
Of course you are concerned about what your new website will cost. Even in Montana webmasters run the gamut of pricing, anywhere from $500 for a student to throw something together, to $25,000 for a site from one of the state’s premier advertising agencies. But while $500 sounds appealing, the emphasis should be on the ROI and not the upfront investment.
Your focus should be on finding a firm that can help design a site that will help you dominate in your market. Therefore, cost is only one factor. A good web designer is invaluable in helping you get the highest quality, most effective, site at a reasonable price. Usually it’s worth it to pay a little more to ensure your online site is effective at capturing new business. A little more investment can amount to more profitable sales down the road. Simply put, a cheap website that reaps no new business was a waste of money while an expensive site that more than pays for itself essential cost nothing, and helped grow your business.