You have a business. Maybe your business is brand new or maybe it has never had a website, but now, you think it’s time to build a website for your business. You ask around and get a lot of different recommendations for designers and some tips from colleagues, etc.
Before you sit down with a designer, there are some things you need to know about the business of building your website. I want to share with you some essentials, and then add some for good measure, a bonus if you will.
A website has to have a domain and hosting
To those of us in the field, these seems like a “no brainer.” Not everyone knows this. First, you have to have your domain which is called your domain name. An example is www.toddejones.net. That is my domain. Actually, I have several. It is the identifier of your website’s location. Look at your domain name like a street address. Second, you have to have a plot of land, or in the digital world, it is called hosting. You lease your hosting from a hosting provider such as Bluehost.com. Both the hosting and the domain cost money. Each year, you pay for your hosting plan and your domain.
A website design does not include hosting and domain
With a rare exception, your designer will not include the price of hosting and domain in the cost of building your website. He or she may have a solution that they may provide for you, but it is, mostly, not included in the design cost. Some companies will do some kind of all-in-one type of plan, but you usually do not get the personal attention and customization that a freelance designer or a web development firm will offer. Keep in mind that most of the time, the cost of your design does not include domain and hosting.
Website content has to come from somewhere
Website content refers to the content of each page as well as pictures and graphics such as your logo. The designer may use pictures and graphics as a part of the design elements, but he or she will need pictures of things like your place of business, your staff and any other business related item as well as your company’s logo. If you expect your designer to create this content, you should also expect to pay extra for doing so. You will also need to consider the copy writing of your website. Do you hire a professional copywriter? Do you write the copy yourself? Or, do you pay to have the website designer provide the copy? This will be your decision, but it is one that needs to be made.
A well built website costs more than a few hundred dollars
That is not to say that you can’t have a website built for a few hundred dollars, but it will not be the best product you can get. A thorough designer will take plenty of time to make sure the website is built, works properly and is optimized for its best use. This time costs money. Simply put, a premium website comes at a premium price.
A Content Management System is essential.
This helps you easily update your website and it is necessary for non-profits and small businesses. It will save you lots of money in updates. There are plenty of good ones available under open source software such as Joomla, Drupal and my favorite, WordPress.
Google Analytics is free. Have it installed by your designer and check your statistics. You need to know who is coming and from where.
Integrate Social Media
Integrate your social media on your website. Let visitors know where else they can find you on the web, and always have your social media profiles leading people back to your website. This gives customers several different ways to engage you and your company.
You website is part of your overall marketing plan. Include a strategy for your website in your overall plan and follow up. Don’t build a website and let it sit stagnate on the web for years without knowing what it is or is not doing for your company! Also, just to be clear, you will have to promote your website to get people to come. Promote it offline as well as online. Consult with your designer or hire an internet marketer. At the very least, make sure your customers know about your website!
Finally, all of the “big three” search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) have free registration tools to have your website indexed in their system. Use them and don’t pay a website to submit to 249 search engines. The only ones you really have to worry about are the “big three.” Submissions to directories might be worth considering, but make sure you index your website in one of the “big three.”