Developing a small business website. It's a dilemma!
Does the thought of building, or redeveloping your website fill you with cold dread? Are you frozen by indecision as you weigh up the various alternatives? Who designs it? Who builds it? Who hosts it? Who maintains it? Who writes the content? Who sources the images? Arrrgh!
Running your own business, big or small, is as challenging as it is rewarding. It's a fine balance between money, time and energy. Rarely are all 3 in abundance.
And so, when faced with a website project it can be daunting, because not only do we have to consider money, time and energy, we also have to factor in knowledge and skills. So, where to start?
Let's Begin with Budget
If you're going to build or redevelop a website a great starting point is budget. How much can you reasonably afford to allocate to it? Ideally you have a nice marketing war chest you have been accumulating for just such an occasion. No? Oh well...
I'm going to assume you either don't have, or haven't allocated enough to outsource your project in its entirety. If you have, great you're covered. And I say this because in my experience most small businesses have many competing priorities and marketing budgets tend to get eaten up by all those other things. Shame. But that's a topic for another day.
So, we're short on cash, what are our options?
Hmm, they're diminishing. This is the dilemma. Where do I best spend my limited budget so that I get the best outcomes? Well, it's easy isn't it? I'll just install WordPress, buy a theme and do it myself!
But let's look at a few things we need to spend our budget on, and some ways we can minimise our spend without compromising our results too dramatically.
Design the Website
Ok, this is going to annoy a few people... mainly designers. But design is not the first thing I look at when I think of building a website. Seriously, it's only third on my list. It's important, but not the number one priority. So it always amazes me that people spend so much money on the design first. That's a great way to end up with the tail wagging the dog!
Before you spend a cent, here's a process you should step through first!
1) Spend some quality time pondering this question, and refining the answer. It's critical.
What do I want this website to do for my business? What are are the critical steps I want visitors to take when they arrive?
If you have come up with a list of things, prioritise them! You'll want the most critical of them right up front! It might cost you a few coffees or cups of tea to find the answers. It might cost you a little time, but it will save you in the long run!
2) Now, ask yourself:
What will visitors to my site most likely expect to see when they arrive. What are their expectations and needs going to be? Can I meet them?
If you can match those needs with your services, products, information, etc, and make the process of doing that easy, you are well on your way to success.
3) Now, give some thought to how matching those two things might look!
Now at this point you haven't engaged a designer. You haven't spent a dime! (Except maybe for those coffees)
When you have a tight budget, one of the best ways you can maximise it is by thinking through the process thoroughly before you do anything else! A well thought out brief will help to minimise the spend!
Now, if you have the skills, time and energy, you can build the site yourself, with a little guidance. That'll save you some coin, but more on that later.
A little on Logo Design
Here's a shock: your logo really isn't that important! Not a first at least. Don't spend a fortune on it, and it doesn't need to be bigger on your website! Really, it doesn't! Less is more people. Don't believe me? Here's a list of the top 10 Fortune 500 Companies 2020. Check out their sites, and note size and logo simplicity:
United Health Group
Their logos are all simple and small on their sites, and one of those sites is just plain ugly! If you have what people are looking for, and they can get it easily, they will buy from you regardless of your logo (and even an ugly site!)
You can probably design yourself a simple start out logo on canva.com. You can always update it later. Companies do it all the time!
Ok, this one just drives me nuts! You don't need a copywriter! (Sorry copywriters!) You may need an editor, but hey, you have limited funds, so write you own copy! It's not about being perfect. It's about being you, and authentic. It's about presenting the solutions to your visitors' problems! Read that last one again! It's about their problems, and your solutions matching! So here's a tip - About Us is not a great place to begin!!
So again, for the cost of some time and caffeine - you can create content!
You can definitely do this yourself! But I hasten to add, please don't go uber cheap and nasty! Spend a little more to get quality hosting. Do some research, and find a reputable hosting company that has great support and recommendations.
I could go on, but the point of all this is to get you to stop and think about where you spend your money and to ensure you get bang for your buck! It's limited, so it matters!
Outsourcing and Professional Services
Ok, to be clear I am not anti outsourcing or hiring of professional services. I'm totally for it in the right circumstances. My business is after all, in that category. But, when your budget is tight, you want to ensure you are allocating it to only the most critical areas. Things you simply cannot do yourself, given limits on money, time and energy!
Now, at this point it's a toss up between what to address next. Time, energy, or skills? Hmm...
CEO - Rough Diamond Academy
For over 21 years David has been building websites for clients. In 2013 he pivoted from running a web design agency to working hands on with clients to help them build their businesses by reaching their ideal clients. Going beyond the website. The experience of working at the coal face is the foundation of The Rough Diamond Academy. Real life experience for real life businesses. It starts with building a site, but that's only the beginning!