|Posted on September 30, 2019 at 6:50 PM|
Should a business owner build her own website?
What to consider before diving into designing a website on your own.
By Nancy Williamson
Starting a new business isn’t for the faint of heart. Just when you decide to go for it and take the first steps, you realize you need a website to market your business and possibly sell your product or service online. Should you hire someone to build a website for you or try to design one yourself? Hiring a professional designer may be an expense you can’t afford as a start-up. A do-it-yourself (DIY) website builder like Wix, Weebly or Webs will save a ton of money.
But ask yourself some important questions about designing your own website before you dive in. Do I have time to build my website? Do I have the skills I need to write the content? What will I put on my website?
The time involved in creating a website
Small business owners typically don’t have the time it takes to build their website. By now you’ve probably hit the ground running and spend your time creating the products or providing the services your business offers, and setting up the legal and financial framework. You need to consider whether you have time to research the best DIY platforms (and there are many!), learn how to use the platform’s program, and then time to build it. That part takes some creative juices.
Many online site builders are user friendly, but the learning curve can still be time consuming and frustrating. I suggest you plan on spending at least 40 hours on a 5-page website, and about an hour a week making updates, which vary depending on the type of business. Your shopping cart may need updated weekly to add/delete available inventory, prices go up and down, a blog may be an element that needs weekly posts. Website maintenance for a wedding planner or dog grooming service would be much different than website maintenance for an online retail store.
Writing for the web
Many people can talk about their business all day long, but explaining it in succinct, professional and organized verbiage can be difficult. We are not all writers, and even those of us who are may not realize that writing for the web is different than writing in print media. Creating content comes very naturally to some people, while others struggle with sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar.
If you know you aren’t good at this, you can hire a content creator, or copywriter, to help you. A copywriter has been trained to write marketing content for advertisements, marketing material and websites. It’s important to remember that the quality of your content reflects on your business and you as a professional. If you tackle the content writing yourself, be sure to have a trusted person proofread it thoroughly.
It’s probably easiest to start with bullet points that help people immediately know what your site is about. List your products and services in bulleted format and go from there. You can always add more content later, but getting the basics on your site first is crucial.
Creating good content is critical and the most important factor in SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is how you get your website ranking higher when people search for your products and services. (You want to be on page 1 of search results) Google takes an organic approach to that, meaning it scans every page and every word of your website and the websites and social media accounts to which you link. Google takes into account everything on your website: your domain name, the words in your header, your headlines, your paragraphs, and your footer.
A website is more than just words
Using good graphics is essential. People interpretand absorb graphic information much quicker than text. Therefore, be sure to include graphics that represent your products and services perfectly. There are many of online suppliers offering free or low-cost graphics and stock photos, such as Pixabay and Dreamstime. But don’t save them on your computer as Image3053.jpg. Save them using key words so Google can read what the photo is about. If you’re a yoga instructor, save the image of your studio as NamasteStudio.jpg. This will help boost your SEO.
Choosing a DIY website building platform
There are many so-called free online website builders, but be aware of costs you will need to pay before and after your site is built. There are four costs to every website: purchase of the domain, the hosting fee, design fee, and maintenance. Many DIY sites may offer free domains and free hosting for 60 days or six months, but you will have to renew your domain and eventually pay a hosting fee.
• The site domain is your website address, such as yourbusiness.com. A domain will cost you anywhere from $10 to $30 annually and you will need to renew it for as long as you own the website.
• Hosting is complicated. Free hosting is often available for basic websites, but you will be charged for more functionality like a shopping cart or online forms. The sky is the limit on hosting, so be careful not to pay for hosting services that you don’t need. It’s probably best to begin with the basic package and upgrade to a bigger package as necessary.
• DIY website companies offer design services for a fee. A designer helps you choose from a template and then he/she designs your site based on information and images you provide. This can be a HUGE timesaver if you are not willing to spend the time learning the ins and outs of setting up each page, how to upload images, determining which color and size fonts to use, etc. It’s often this part of the process that many people decide to pay someone to do. We are all endowed with some sort of creative talent, but this one may not be yours!
• Creating your website means you will have no maintenance fees since you will be logging in to make your edits.
Creating your website may save a lot of money, but don’t underestimate the loss of your most valuable resource: time.
Nancy Williamson is a certified business advisor and owns Carolina Web Design Services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.