For most small businesses, the process of getting your business on the internet can be a minefield.
You want to do it for the best price while still getting the look and feel that say’s to the world you are a reputable business who knows what they are talking about. It is your window for the world to peer in and say do I want to buy from them?
What do you need to get a website on the internet:
- Web hosting account. This is where your website lives on the internet
- URL. This is your address on the internet pointing to your website. For example www.yoursite.com
- Your website code. This is your web page, where the code tells the browser what to present to the person viewing your website. Normally created using a web design language or website builder application.
You will eventually work this out but first, you need to get past all the other search results first. Or should I say the minefield.
So off we go and we are encouraged because your search on the internet for a business website tells you can do it. It’s search engine friendly, connects to social media and a small monthly fee. You click on the site and they give you a “Sign Up Now” button. If you are like me this sends up some alarm bells. What exactly am I signing up for? Will it deliver me what I want? They say it is easy, just choose a template and you are done. They have testimonials from people who have done it. But where are the details about what features are included and more importantly what feature you have to pay extra for. Is it that easy and cheap?
So I continue to search and get past these kinds of sites and find search results for cheap websites. You click on these to have a look at these deals. I found a lot that promises cheap sites in the search results, but suddenly the price went up when you went to their page. A lot provided a cheap price, but with limited features, no hosting, no URL, no support and more. They made it sound good but were basically providing you with a template and charging you a premium for it.
So I continue down the search result and keep getting lots of business offering website hosting with website builders included in the hosting fee and your own URL. So I investigate further because it has the three things I need. But the focus is on the hosting and not the website builder. Suddenly there is a whole lot of features listed in the hosting package and if I buy a more expensive package I get more features. What web hosting features are important to have a good website. The website builder is a single line on the features list. Cheaper hosting options only allow me to have one URL, do I need more? More investigation required.
Eventually, I decided to do some searches specifically about the website builder offering. What I find is that in most cases they have limited the capability of the website builder, where I need to pay more for more pages or features. They start mentioning premium plugins and themes, which translates to “if you want more feature and capabilities you need the premium edition which you will pay for”.
I can keep going but don’t want to turn this post into a book. You start running into terms such as best web design practices and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), responsive design, website marketing and more. You need to research the best hosting package. the best web design application. If you continue your search journey you will find out that there is more to this website setup than we first thought.
What I am trying to say is to be careful as you could end up paying a lot more for what you want.
What they are not telling you is that a lot of these offerings have significant limitations that are not obvious when you first get started, so make sure you check the pricing and features first. In most cases, you will have to search for this information as they do not make it obvious where to find it on their site.
Some of the limitations we have seen include:
- Advertising on your web page from the provider
- Not enough pages
- Your web address is not how you want it to be
- No shop capability
- Storage limits
- Bandwidth limits
- No search option
- No support for video
- No secure areas for customers
- High transaction rates on purchase
- Only one site
- Limited plugins (for additional features)
- Limited templates
- and much more.
They do offer you a solution which is purchasing one of the more expensive options to get what you want. Or buying a premium theme or plug-in.
Just be aware that regardless of what solution you chose you will need to learn the website editor. It can be a big learning curb to configure elements on your website so that they work the way you want them to. Some things you may need to consider before embarking on creating your own site include the need to create your own content, deciding on the structure of your site, having images and graphics available and more.
Two of the more important elements that are often not covered effectively by these offerings are the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media. To have customers visiting your site you need to be found by the search engines or have an effective social media presence driving traffic to your site. Just having a template that is SEO friendly is often not enough to appear on the first page of the search engine results.
If you do a search on SOE and Social Media marketing you will find there are many elements that will allow your site to be found more effectively, too many to cover in this article. SOE and Social Media have taken over from the traditional marketing as a way to attract new customers. Done correctly Social Media also offers you the chance to stay in front of customers and actively promote your business to them.
If all of this sounds too daunting your alternative is to get a professional web design company like Atria to build you a website with all of the features you want. Configuring all of the elements, making sure your SOE parameters are set up correctly and connecting your Social Media and getting the design you need without the huge learning curb.
Having a good looking website is important, but the advice on achieving a web presence that drives the new customer to your business is far more important.
With a design company your upfront cost may be higher, but done correctly your ongoing cost will be significantly less and your chance of being found will be much higher.
We have only just touched on some of the elements that you need to consider. So regardless of which journey you decide to take, do some more research or talk to a professional.