There’s no doubt about it, the website market is flooded with tools, tricks and tantalising offers. It’s never been easier to get a website for free or very low cost. And if you want a quick-and-easy blog or simple website, you can’t go past WordPress.com, I highly recommend it!
But… if you want something in particular, if you want a professional brand, if you want to be found on Google – you need to pay a professional.
If you’re not sure why, start by asking yourself the following questions. And then if you find someone willing to do it for you, ask them the same questions. If they don’t know, move on and find someone who can answer them.
Questions to ask a web builder
- Do you know how to edit the menu so that you can add or remove pages?
- Do you know how to change the footer information?
- Can you add a contact form?
- Can you add new pages for new products or services?
- Do you know how to install plugins for backups and security? Which ones are best?
- Can you install Google Analytics to track how well your site is performing?
- Can you do Search Engine Optimisation?
- Do you know how to optimise images?
- Do you know how to keep the page load time low?
- Can you ensure there is an SSL certificate so that your site is loaded as HTTPS?
- Can you integrate the website with a campaign management tool?
Are you beginning to understand now? Building a website is more than just uploading a few pages. If you want it to be seen, if you want it to work for you, then you need these technical elements. And while I’m not complaining about the work, I’ve had many clients come to me for help after dealing with the frustration of trying to get by with a cheap or free website and DIYing it. They end up spending more than they would have if only they had come to me in the first place.
Consider your brand
It’s also important to consider your brand. While Canva is a great free design tool – I use it myself, for school posters – it is limited in what it can offer you in terms of logos and branding. Sure you can whip up a free logo on there and they look pretty good. But because it hasn’t been created in the correct software, it is impossible to use it for anything other than your website (also, after a while, you get pretty good at knowing when a logo is factory-made at Canva). If you want a print version of that logo, it’s not going to be at the correct resolution. If you want variants of the logo – on different backgrounds, for example – it’s never going to look clean and professional because it hasn’t been created properly. And that’s where many businesses end up hiring graphic designers to “clean up” their shoddy logo so that they can then reuse it.
Graphic designers can be on the expensive side, they are amazing at what they can do with a blank page. But if you are on a budget, perhaps come up with the design yourself, or use Canva and then pay someone with graphics skills (someone who knows Photoshop and Illustrator, like me) to properly put your logo together. Your logo will then be sleek and reusable.
… And your hosting
While we’re on the topic of getting good value, also consider your hosting. I’ve hosted with different hosts through the years and worked with many different clients. And I choose to pay a little for my own hosting than what the cheap companies charge. Why? Because I want my hosting company to be based in Australia, with their support centre also based in Australia. So that I know that if I have a problem, I can contact them real-time and speak to someone who knows what I’m talking about. I’ve had too many issues with overseas support call-centres in the past to want this to be an issue. Also, the cheaper hosts start out cheap but often have hidden extras, like SSL certificates, which my host includes in its basic package.
Look, starting a business is hard and you can do it without a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean you should do it with no money. Skimp on the things that really don’t matter like swanky office phones, embossed business cards, and long lunches (hold that smashed avocado).
Your website is the one thing that pulls your brand together, allows customers to find you and find out about more you; it creates a connection between you and your (potential) customer.
It’s a powerful business tool.
Don’t expect to get something that invaluable for free.