A modern business needs a website; not having one means missing out. But what if the website you need is complex or large? Should you attempt to build it yourself or hire someone?
Paying for website development is worth it, especially if you don’t have time or knowledge or your website requires an extra layer of complexity, such as E-commerce.
In this post, you’ll learn why I believe it is worth paying for a website, and you’ll learn some top tips for choosing a web developer and what it takes to build your own.
What the Pandemic Taught Business
The pandemic hurt bricks and mortar businesses, and it taught many who didn’t already have an online presence that they needed to get online ASAP.
Many online businesses made out like bandits during the lockdown, increasing their market share over their bricks and mortar competitors. While online shopping transactions were grossly skewed to the upside by the pandemic, what is very clear is how those online businesses could continue to not only trade during the pandemic but thrive.
Yep, you already know you need an online presence, and your site must be e-commerce capable. And so that brings us to the question of who will make your website. You have two basic options, pay someone to build it or build it yourself.
Having had the experience of both paying for a website and building my own, we’ll now look at both these options in more detail below. First, we’ll look at the experience of paying for a website.
Paying for Website
Paying for a website is the best option for most business folks. As business owners, we are among the busiest folks in the world. Our schedule is already full of important and unimportant but must-be-done stuff.
Adding a new task, such as learning to build and maintain a website, is doable for business people; they are a focused multitalented bunch, and they have to be.
No, it’s not your ability that’s in question. It’s your time investment. It often doesn’t stack up. If your time is more valuable working on what you are good at rather than learning a new skill, you may only use it once. That is not a great use of your time unless, of course, you have some spare time.
Here’s a list of some of the advantages of paying for a website:
- Action – Work can start immediately
- Time – You have time freed up to run your business
- Tax – Site cost is tax deductible
- Design – The developer will ensure a sharp modern look
- Features – The developer will enable whatever features your business needs
- Troubleshoot – Development team will fix software bugs etc.
- Maintenance – Development team will take care of domain hosting, domain name security, and site file hosting issues
- Data protection & Compliance – Development team use industry approved best practices
If you decide to go down the hiring road, check out my top tips for hiring a developer below.
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Tips For Hiring A Web Developer
When hiring a web developer, you want the best your business can afford. But without a doubt, you want a developer who’s reliable and capable.
A site that’s down is useless, no matter how many great features it has. Your developer must be accessible when you need him.
I’ve had several websites built over the years and learned the hard way to check the reputation of whomever you hire. I trusted my first website to a web developer with a terrible attitude. He was super helpful until we got halfway into the project; he then started to drag his feet; everything was a problem, and he began to ratchet up the costs.
Ultimately, I had to terminate the website, chalk the costs down to experience, and start again. I took far more care in choosing the next developer, and I still work with them from time to time.
Anyhow, here are my top tips for choosing a developer:
- Ask other business web owners if they can recommend a developer.
- Know in advance of a meeting what you want, i.e., several pages, blog section, e-commerce, etc.
- Check their work
- Ask for references
- Search your developer’s reputation on the web, and see if forums have mentioned them
- Ask for a solid price for web development
- Ask for a separate price for ongoing hosting.
- Ask for a price for ongoing maintenance.
Finally, you will likely be dealing with this developer for years; you’ll need to troubleshoot issues, and as your business grows, so too will the needs of your website. Being on good terms with your developer is important; if you guys don’t click, I’d keep looking.
Building Your Own Website
Building your own site is well within your capability; I know this because any business person I’ve ever met has a can-do attitude, and they tend to be multi-skilled, which is both a gift and a curse all at once. You know what I mean!
Putting the rubber down and making it happen, what does it entail to build your website?
Here’s a broad outline of the mechanics of how you set up a website:
1 Domain name registration & renewal
We’ll need a domain name www.Mybusinessname.com. This is like the name and street address of where our website pages live on the internet. While this name is ours, in theory, it isn’t. We have the right to use it so long as we pay the annual rent on it.
If we fail to pay the rent, somebody else is free to pay the rent and use it. We use an intermediary to register our domain name, and we pay them the rent; they are known as our hostname provider. We register our name once and renew it annually, approx. $30.
2 Web Host Provider
Our web host provider is the intermediary we use to put our web pages live on the internet so they can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world. Not to be confused with a domain name host provider, although host providers usually offer both services.
You can use the same or a separate host provider for your name and web files. Web hosting is typically paid monthly, and the more you pay, the faster your site loads; important for user experience, a fair balance of speed and price for a business site is around $50 a month.
3 Site Builder
The site builder is the platform we use to build our web pages (files). It’s an interface we use to build pages and place information, logos, products, contact details, etc. We use a platform to style our web pages and to add additional functionality such as e-commerce etc.
Regarding site builders, we have a couple of options; we can use the biggest, most respected, and free site builder platform in the world, WordPress.org (not.com), or go off piste and work with somebody like WIX.com, Squarespace, GoDaddy, etc.
The off-piste guys claim to be easier to use, and while that may be true at the beginning, as your site grows, you’ll quickly outgrow these guys and will find it is quite the job to move to the platform you should have picked (WordPress). Now how do I know that? 🙂
In addition, to make using WP easier, a ton of theme builders have done all the heavy work of designing the pages so that they all look pretty; all you need do is pick a WP-approved theme and start inputting your company logo and info. Themes cost anywhere from free to a few hundred dollars.
Advantages of building your website:
- Learn a new skill
- Make web changes instantly
- Add new pages yourself
- Save web development costs
Next, I’ll cover my tips for building your new website.
Tips For Building Your Own Website
I’ve built about fifteen websites at this stage, all for my own businesses. I love the whole process, starting from nothing and building them into something truly useful to society, and I make money, too; we all win.
Anyhow, here are my top tips for building your own site:
- Always go for a .com
- Use a separate domain name host from a web host
- Pick a WP-approved theme – Keep the design clean
- Use WordPress website builder
- Keep a copy of your complete website; I use a WP plugin to do so
- If using your own pictures, label them and keep them in the cloud or keep a second copy
- Keep your WP themes and plugins up to date.
It is most likely as a business owner. Your time is better spent on your day-to-day business needs. Learning a new skill, such as web development, to build a one-off business website likely doesn’t make economic sense.
Since web development costs are tax deductible, having your business website built by a professional makes sense. Using a professional development team will also ensure your business website adheres to data protection laws.
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