Should I hire a firm to create my website or should I build it myself?
It’s a question most small-business owners have to deal with, and there are pros and cons to each approach. Like any project, you have to think through scope, time and cost implications.
Most design firms are well-equipped to build the site you’ve envisioned. Your requirements drive the overall budget and timeline.
A simple website that includes home, about, services and contact pages take about two to four weeks to build and cost about $500 to $3,000. More complicated sites with integrated chat, lots of additional pages and online shopping increase the budget and extend the timeline for putting it together.
When having someone build your website, be sure you understand what you’re getting. Some design firms include content and imagery while others don’t. The items spelled out specifically in the proposal are not always everything you’re looking for.
Don’t assume. Ask. And always reach out to several firms and compare quotes.
If you plan to build a site yourself, there are a lot of options at your disposal. Website builder tools are widely available online and typically cost about $15 per month.
Not all services are the same, however.
Consider user-friendliness, cost and mobile capabilities when making a decision. Ask around. See what your friends and other companies use. Use Google to search for terms such as “website builder” or “website builder reviews” to check site reviews.
Don’t simply sign up for the first service you come across or the one with the best promotion.
My first experience with website builder services came about six years ago. The builder didn’t use common SEO tactics and caused us lots of issues, eventually leading us to rebuild the site on another platform.
The most popular website builder services include important features such as mobile design or responsiveness and SEO capabilities. Bigcommerce and Shopify work well for businesses that need to sell online. Services like Squarespace, Weebly and Wix allow you to build a website without the extra setup required by an eCommerce platform.
Aside from the site’s design, you’ll also need hosting and a domain name. Hosting for a small-business site costs about $100 per year. The domain name usually runs about $12 annually.
Some website builder services offer hosting and a domain name with your monthly service fee.
Make sure you own that domain name. If you discontinue the website builder service, you’ll want to take the name with you. Any SEO or marketing built around a domain name only transfers if you own the domain outright and you can configure it according to your needs.
And one last thing. Be sure to invest in a mobile-friendly design regardless of which direction you choose.
Reach Jeremy Sisk at firstname.lastname@example.org.