Sunday, January 9, 2011

How an Affordable Website Design Can Benefit Your Business

These days, most small businesses are realizing they need to jump on the digital bandwagon and join the ever-growing online community. The Internet is the only dynamic advertising medium around that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once you have your site up and running your website begins working for you non-stop. With hundreds of millions of searches being performed each day it is crucial that small business make the move now to take advantage of this incredible opportunity for exposure and growth.

The Challenge -
Most small businesses don't have the capital of fortune 500 companies, to put forth as a long-term investment. There is a common misconception among most small business owners that in order to have a successful and thriving online presence they need to invest anywhere from $3000 to $10,000 in up front costs. I am here to tell you that there are a number of ways to establish your web presence for as little as $50/month.
Affordable Website Design Options
The Free Affordable Website Design Site
There are currently a number of free resources online that will allow you to create your own website generally limited to the templates that each company will provide. This option is generally best suited for an individual with a hobby who is not really concerned with the long-term prospect of their online presence.
  1. The most obvious is that its free
  2. Your hosting is also free
  1. Customization Limitations - With a free website builder your will generally be given a number of set template options to choose from. Initially this might seem like a good thing, but if you are serious about brand identity for your company this tends to be a problem.
  2. Technical Savvy - Generally most people do not have the tech background required to utilize all of the tools provided in an effective manner. Commonly people will get half way through the design process and realize that this not what they initially signed up for, leaving frustrated and without a finished product.
  3. You Don't Own Your Website - This is a big one, especially when thinking in terms of long-term goals. When you create a website on free website builder platform you don't own that website. If for some reason the company goes under, the website goes with them. Many times companies will start out with a number of free options but as they grow they start introducing limitations that only allow users a limited number of options on the free version. As technology evolves so do the tools that you are utilizing and these companies have the power to change their minds about what options they want to support for free.
  4. Internet Marketing Problems - One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make is not buying their own domain name. They will use something like as their domain and think nothing of it. The value of your website is always carried in the domain name itself. So if you are marketing for a domain name that belongs to another company you are actually doing their own marketing for them for free. This is the reason that free online website builders exist, they have created a system where their clients are doing the work for them. As mentioned before is this website is going to be used to display artwork that you do as a hobby on the side, its not really a big deal. But if you are an established company that is planning on growing your online identity for the next few years you need to make sure that you own your domain name.
  5. Poor website performance- Your website may crash frequently due to overloaded host servers.
The Next level Up in Affordable Website Design
If you are still reading this you're probably seeking to gain a more established long-term online presence. The current market is saturated with website design companies that will charge you anywhere from $300 to $100,000 for a website. The question is... how do you know what company to choose?
Many of the big name companies recognized for their hosting and domain names services also offer a website design option. Generally their services tend not to be executed as well as that of a smaller local website design company. This is because the "website design" product that they are offering is just a side shoot of their primary services and thus does not generally get as much attention from the department heads in terms of product development and tends to be shoddy and have the "cookie cutter" appearance.
Your best bet is to find a small to midsized company that specializes specifically in website design and Internet marketing. This is something that they do everyday, and generally these website design companies will be able to provide you with better customer service and attention to detail specific to your personal needs.
  1. You will own your domain name- Owning your own domain name is imperative as cited above. It is always in your best interest to create your own account, purchase your own domain, and work with your website design company to get the information updated as needed to connect your domain name to your host.
  2. Your website can be Customized to fit your needs - Working with a small to midsized company will allow you to be able to get customizations like custom designed galleries, and unique interactive widgets that are not generally available at the others.
  3. No design hassle or technical skills necessary - Small companies know how to communicate with those that have limited technical knowledge.
  4. Personalized Approach - You will generally be dealing with one person, instead of being passed around from sales to design then to tech and to billing.
  5. High Quality Design - Smaller design companies spend a lot of time on the design aspect of a website. Because they are smaller they are generally not limited to the monopoly mentality experienced at a corporate design firm that values speed over value.
  6. Website Built for Search Engine Efficiency- Extra care is will be put into all aspects of your website including the infrastructure and focus on how search engines interact with your website to gain the most optimum visibility.
  1. You have to pay or this service
  2. 24/7 Support may not be available
  3. Smaller companies don't have the resources to support a 24/7 staff. Although they will generally resolve your issues faster because of the unique skill sets acquired by a smaller staff.
  4. Development time may take 2-3 weeks
  5. Rather than a few days, largely due to attention to detail on your project.
Always do your research when committing to a design company. With some preliminary research I guarantee that you will save yourself hours of hassle with a company that either doesn't provide what you need, or doesn't care enough to get the job done right.

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