If you're reading this article it's probably because you are considering getting a website for your small business. The sheer array of choices and options is overwhelming. As you keep reading, you will discover that it doesn't have to be.
Are you a product or a service-based business?
The first question you have to define is "What is the goal of my website?" If you are a product-based business, you will need an e-commerce website. They are more complex by the fact that you have to manage your inventory, payment processing, security, etc.
If you are a service-based business, your needs are a little more straight forward. For the most part your website is there build trust and to generate leads or schedule appointments.
A powerful, modern & cleanly designed 5-page website will do the job perfectly:
- Testimonial / Gallery
- Contact Page
Should you hire a web developer?
One of the costly mistakes business owner often make with their website is to try and become their own web developer and designer. Lot’s of online DIY web building products are spent every year to try and convince business owners the process to get a website nicely designed and online is as simple as 1,2,3.
It's not that simple. Only a tiny percentage of business owners have the knowledge, time, and skill to finish their website. (Sadly we’ve seen it all, and often the website takes the business owner months or year(a to build in their site and it often ends up looking like a it was designed poorly and they end up making their business look unprofessional.)
On the other side, not all web designers are created equal. Knowing how to separate the wheat from the shaft is important. This is why we have included 12 questions to ask before hiring a web developer in our Consumer Awareness Guide to Getting a Business Website.
Should your website have a blog?
Unless you sell to an international market and primarily attracting customers via content marketing the short answer is: NO
If you are a service business that serves a local market, your time creating content is probably better spent elsewhere, on social media, networking events, referrals, google my business, and so on.
A blog can be a wonderful thing, but it is an added feature that will require an extra cost to your website and from our experience, we've never seen small and local business owners managing to have the time to run a blog on top of their business.
Wix? Squarespace? WordPress? What the what?
In the last decade or so, we have seen a multiplication of options for people who want to make their websites from scratch or web designers who do not want to learn to code.
But here is what we discovered: DIY websites end up clunky or unfinished one at best. On the other side, when people hire a web designer, once it is finished you end up with a website you have to maintain or pay $79 to $99/mo for them to maintain. That is usually not counting the cost of hosting, email, plugins, etc.
All of those solutions are made for everyone, this means that they comes bloated with features you do not need if your needs are simple. They also introduce an element of risk because they all depends on servers and databases that can be corrupted or hacked.
A simple site tailored to your need will usually yield a better performance and lower chances of piracy.
Saving On Huge Upfront Costs
The ideal situation for a small business owner is an affordable all-inclusive package that takes care of them from day 1. From content creation to design, review, and maintenance & support.
After running a marketing agency for 10 years, we've concluded that it is the best in most cases. At Supersonic Sites®, we charge an onboarding fee of $199 that includes an onboarding call, a dedicated content strategist, and one month free of service. Then, once the website is launched a maintenance fee of $49/mo.
The other option is to be $1500 to $3000 for a website that you will either have to maintain or pay $79/mo for maintenance. We believe this isn't what most small business owners want.
To learn more about the pros and cons of website as a product vs website as a service read our article entitled: How to Save on the Huge Upfront Cost of Getting a Business Website.
What about SEO?
SEO is on everyone's lips whenever they have a website.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
But the dirty secret is that it is sometimes a way for the web designer to make you pay extra for a job that should be built-in the process. Making sure your website reflects your business, that it has proper structure, is quick to load, easy to navigate on mobile, are all things you should not have to pay extra for.
If you are a small business that offers a service to people locally, your SEO should be focused on "Local SEO". Which is mostly about maintaining your Goole My Business profile and getting engagement on it (Reviews, posts, thumbs up, questions, etc).
Investing a few hundred bucks in local citations you should have all the SEO you need to generate traffic to your website and your business.
What type of website is best for small businesses? It depends on what type of business you are. E-Commerce should be looking for specialists and platforms that included all the components to make sales online.
But if you are a small, local, and service-based business, avoid DIY solutions, incompetent web developers, look for an affordable and all-inclusive package that gives gets you a website online quickly without breaking the bank.