Helpful tips when building a website for your business

Written by Tyler Groskreutz on May 18, 2016

Nowadays it seems like every marketing company, ad agency, TV and radio commercial is telling you that your business needs a website and you should use their company to build your website. But how do you sort through the noise? There are so many options. It starts with asking the right questions:

What are my options when it comes to types of websites?

Prebuilt WordPress Theme – WordPress is a Content Management System(CMS) that allows you to apply themes to change the interface of your website. WordPress is a great option for businesses to select regardless of size because themes are free with the exception of premium themes. When people put out premium themes, they aren’t legally able to the them as a product but they are selling the support that goes along with the theme. If you choose WordPress as an option for your business and using someone else’s theme, you should first decide whether you want to use WordPress.com or WordPress.org. The difference between the two is important and will be discussed in a later post, but for now, should be researched before choosing, because there are a few fees associated with both.

Static Custom built Website – This kind of website is typically the fastest type of custom website as there isn’t much to putting them together, and typically static websites are built for companies that have a low initial budget, but static websites can cost more down the road because content changes to the website have to be made by a web developer.

CMS Custom built Website – In addition to WordPress there are several other Content Management Systems that can be used, for example: Drupal, Joomla, or one that is completely custom to fit your business’ needs. WordPress is used as the primary example because a complete custom built CMS can be out of budgetary reach for a lot of businesses, and Drupal/Joomla can be more difficult to use and are much less popular than WordPress. That being said, a custom looking website with an existing CMS running it, like WordPress, isn’t out of reach for nearly as many businesses. This type of website can be more preferable to businesses that are willing to spend more money up front and have to pay less to maintain the website in the long run because with a CMS backing your website, you or anyone in your company with basic internet skills can figure out how update content regularly.

**As a side note, I strongly recommend updating the content on your website regularly. No one likes visiting a website with “© 2009” at the bottom and the phone number listed on the website is no longer in service. Also, look at the popularity of social media. People keep coming back to look at the changing content associated with their friend’s profiles. Changing website content regularly keeps visitors engaged.

eCommerce – Building an eCommerce website is tricky. There’s a lot of risk in selling products online in keeping your customer’s credit card information safe. So choosing the right solution is crucial. There are many options with varying costs. On the very cheap end, you can use a WordPress plugin like WooCommerce. WooCommerce works best when partnered WooThemes as a WordPress theme, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t spend a little extra money to make it look custom.

DIY/Template – There are companies like Wix.com or Web.com that promise a drag and drop, easy to use website for a small monthly fee. Sometimes they’re free websites! But keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and your website isn’t immune to that phrase. DIY websites are very budget friendly as long as you have the time to spend building it yourself. However, in my experience, they tend to not look like the most professional websites. Unless the website creator has an eye for modern design trends and a knack for knowing what’s going to make their users move through the website, building your own website might not put the best face on your company.

How much should I spend on my website?

Answering this can be super simple but also very tricky. In an ideal world you should spend whatever it takes to get a website that fulfills every possible need your business could have. Unfortunately, we live in a world where businesses are constrained by a budget, and answering this question really depends on how large of a budget you have for advertising, because you should have more advertising needs than just a website.

There are plenty of articles that will say that you should spend between 7% and 11% of your net income for a year. There are obvious exceptions to this rule. For example, eCommerce websites are going to spend more on their website because it is primary source of income. Additionally, a start up is unlikely to be able to afford a fully custom website with all the bells and whistles.

The best advice you can get is to decide what features you absolutely need to have in your website and get quotes from there. You should also keep in mind that just because you can’t afford the Cadillac of websites right out of the gate, doesn’t mean you can’t start with something simple and add features/increased functionality down the road! Its not that uncommon in my experience for businesses to say, “we have the money to build a static HTML website this year. We would like to be able to change the content so we would like to add a CMS next year. Finally, we could budget to make it responsive in the third year.”

How do I find a business to create my website?

As you may have guessed, we build websites! But there have been other resources mentioned in this article for building a website yourself, or it could be as simple as reaching out to a marketing firm/advertising agency to either build it or point you in the right direction for other companies that could build a website for you. As always, a simple Google search can be a resource!

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