Building a Website for Your Small Business in 2018

It’s cheaper than you’d think.

source: score.org

The anxiety is real.

Your small business is your life, and you‘ll do everything you can in order to make it succeed. You’ve now arrived at the dreaded point on your checklist — building a website — and you don’t know where to start.

It needs to be perfect. This is your business, and the first impression matters. After all, your website can be the deciding factor in converting your visitors into customers.

“F***, this is going to be expensive.” You begin the dreaded research.

Preliminary Google searches bring you to Wordpress, Wix, and Squarespace. For a moment, you entertain the idea of doing it yourself. You even play with templates and manage to upload logo.

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You’re proud of yourself but you know you’ve really just arrived at the tip of the iceberg. Reality hits that you’re not going to take the time to learn the platform, nonetheless learn how to modify the CSS, HTML, or Javascript needed to customize it completely. You move on — time to hire the pros.

After reaching out to some web development firms, you get some quotes back: $5000, $6,000, $7,000.

Source: giphy.com

You sit on it for a day. This is about the time you start trying to rationalize things: “This is the face of my business — if there’s one thing I’m going to spend money on to get right, this is it!”

That’s often how it ends. However, it needs to be said — people are overpaying for basic websites because they don’t know any better.

A large reason people get screwed, in my opinion, is because the average consumer has no reference point on cost.

Consider this:

  • Web development services are often purchased only once. Without multiple purchasing experiences, it’s hard to compare work delivered against different price points.
  • Consumers have no brand loyalty in the industry. There’s no “go to” company that provides a reliable point of reference people can trust.

A second reason people overpay is because they aren’t aware of how recent innovations like Squarespace, Wix, and Wordpress have revolutionized professional web development.

Here’s a ‘not so secret’ — I can build the same, if not better, small business website in 1/10 of the time using Squarespace than building it ‘from scratch.’ Speed = savings. Unless you need a highly functional web app with member portals, etc., building a site from the ground up is a very costly mistake.

The complexity of the unknown has been a greedy developer’s biggest weapon.

So here are my tips:

  1. Ditch the overhead. Why pay overhead for a service that requires none? KISS (keep it simple, stupid) — find a freelancer or company where you’re dealing directly with the developer. Avoid firms with ‘many specialties.’ Their model by nature requires overhead, as well as up-selling you on other services you may not need (ex. digital marketing).
  2. Negotiate a total project cost, don’t pay by the hour. I have had plenty of experience working with outsourced developers who charge by the hour, and the amount spent always ends up being roughly 1.5x the initial estimate. There are tons of honest people out there, but you just never know when someone decides to “take their time.” You don’t know any better, and you have no insight into that person’s time efficiency. Here’s another pro tip: as a developer myself, I can tell you we’re more than willing to bargain for the project!
  3. Squarespace, Wix, Wordpress are your friend. These platforms have reduced the cost of modern web development, and developers should be using them and passing along the savings to you. Fear not — a skilled developer can customize these platforms to your exact specifications. Don’t recreate the wheel if you don’t have to!

Don’t get screwed, get educated. Thanks for reading!

A note about me: I run Fire Design, built around a “fast-fired websites” model. You can contact me any time at 713.304.7552 or michael@firedesign.com.

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