The growing percentage of consumers that use the internet in order to find and decide with whom they will do business is continually growing at a fast pace. These consumers are searching for anything from products and services to specific companies, with a determination to read reviews before they buy. Without a website, a company is left at the mercy of third-party review sites and social media as their only means to share their products/services and reputation. Even worse, the consumer doesn’t find your business at all.
Your website is the piece of your business’ online presence over which you have the most control. Review sites and social sites reserve the right to allow others to post about you, shut you down, or hide your content. That being said, I hope you agree that your website is the new front door to your business.
You may be saying “I get it, but how do I choose between all the different options that are out there?” Well today, we are talking about the basics every business website should have and the benefits and drawbacks that the different options provide.
First things first, every business needs to understand the basics of what a well set up website should have or be:
- be purposeful and help end users accomplish very specific goals
- provide a clear navigation format and structure
- be simple and enjoyable to use
- have content that gives value
A successful website is well planned out and everything set up is purposeful.
Now for the benefits and drawbacks of the different options. In recent years several companies have promised an easy website setup process but in reality they’ve merely made the onboarding process, not the finishing process, easier. Even with a “coding-free” website building experience, several important decisions have to be made about goals, information architecture, design, content, and more. Also, it is important to consider the time it will take you to try and do this on your own, the kind of resources you have within your team already, and how professional you want or need your website presentation to be.
|TEMPLATE||$$||in the middle||**||average|
$ – DIY – Turnkey type sites such as Squarespace or a web hosts’ website builder platform will provide you an easy way to get started but you’ll most likely need help throughout the process to ensure your site meets professional standards and user expectations. When working in these environments you do lose certain levels of fine grain control over certain styling and functional components.
$$ – Template – Utilizing a pre-built template, you can save on cost since layouts and several functional components come baked in. This gives your web designer a starting point and should help lower your overall costs. With the right design customizations on top, these sites can turn out quite nicely and serve the basic needs of the business and end user. However, sometimes it can be challenging to find a template that doesn’t come with a lot of extra unnecessary items. Templates are available for purchase for the most popular content management systems such as WordPress as well as html5.
$$$ – Custom – When you definitely want to stand out from the crowd and have a site that gives you optimal performance over the competition, this is the route to go. It will cost the most since it will take more time to design and build from scratch, but can be a very worthwhile investment. This option gives you the most fine grain control over the styling and functional components of your website and is a great option if you’ve ever hit the wall with a DIY or Template option in the past. Also, if search engine optimization is important to you then this route will definitely make any optimizations smoother for your web developer to implement.
- users today expect the website experience to be blazingly fast and simple
- if users get stuck at any point in the process for too long they’ll exit your site quickly
- accessibility of your website on all screen sizes and popular mobile/tablet devices is now a standard expectation
There are several other factors that go into the decision-making process. In several situations, we have even found hybrid options can be useful. Example, utilizing a website template but applying custom programming and styling to suit the needs of the site. If you’d like to have a discussion with us about your website decision please contact us to schedule a free consultation.