Hi Legacy Builders. Welcome back to my blog. In this post, I will give you a few tips to help you when hiring a website designer for your business. In prior posts, I explained the pros and cons of a few different platforms to build a website, like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace. However, for some of you out there, you don’t want to go the DIY route and build and design your business website and would instead hire someone to do it for you. But where do you start? How do you know the person or company you hire to build your website can deliver what you need. This post will go over a few key things you should do before hiring anyone to make your business website.
Having a website for your business is critical regardless of whether you sell goods or provide services. Websites should be more than esthetically pleasing; they should serve a more practical function for your business. Even if you sell items on Etsy or services through Fiverr, you should always have a central online hub for your business that you can always access and can completely control. Remember in 2021 when Facebook and Instagram went down for a day? As a savvy business owner, you understand the importance of having multiple ways for current and potential customers to reach you and learn more about the products or services that you sell. But the idea of building a website is not something you have any desire to do. There is no shame in delegating the task of creating your business’s website to an individual or company. And to be honest, it’s probably a better use of your time. So when it comes to hiring a website designer, where do you start?
Before you even think about contacting a website designer, you need to create a budget for how much you want to spend on the website. There is no set cost for designing and building a website. It is highly subjective and dependent upon the company you hire. Web Designers will charge from as little as $400 to $10,000. Knowing what you are willing to spend on a website before meeting with any designer will help you focus the conversation and see what is attainable within your budget. When creating your budget, keep in mind how you plan to use the website. Will it be the central platform that customers will find and interact with your business, or will it serve as more of a static brochure for your company? Your investment in your website should be based on how you plan to use the website to promote your business. For example, Target spends thousands of dollars on its website because a significant portion of its business is conducted there. However, a service-based business like a law firm or locksmith may use its website to provide contact information to potential customers but does not make actual sales on the website. Having a clear idea of how you plan to use your website will help you decide on a reasonable budget. You can expect to pay less than an e-commerce or highly interactive website for a static-brochure website. However, be sensible and realistic. You cannot demand a website designer build you a site like “Amazon” on a shoestring budget.
Factors that Impact Price
So how can you know if a price quoted by a web designer is a good deal? Several key factors play a role in what a website designer will charge. One major is factor is whether the website will be built on an all-in-one website building platform like Wix or Squarespace, or if the website is built on opened source platform like WordPress. Some website designers specialize in building sites on specific platforms, and most web-building platforms are user-friendly and do not require coding to customize them. Under those circumstances, what you end up paying for is the skill of the website designer to get the most out of a specific platform in a way that you dragging and clicking your mouse would take months to achieve. In that case, your designer is likely charging you for their expertise in using that platform to achieve your desired result. For example, my company JWM Designs builds websites exclusively on WordPress. As I mentioned in a prior video, WordPress requires more technical coding knowledge to develop and maintain websites than the all-in-one platforms like Wix. And so sites built on WordPress or other open-sourced platforms may cost more than a site built using a page builder simply because it’s more of an undertaking to build those sites. Most importantly, if the website designer you are meeting with specializes in building sites on a platform, you don’t want or like, that is not the designer for you.
Another critical factor you need to keep in mind is how you plan to use the website in your business. Before meeting with a potential web developer, you need to have a clear idea of what you want and need your website to do. For example, you need to know if search engine optimization is included with the website’s design or is wholly separate. Will your website be the primary place to take orders or schedule services? Will you need the capability to integrate other software like Calendly, Shopify Lite, Stripe, or Mailchimp? Any good website designer will ask you about the details of your business does and how you need the website to assist you during your initial meeting. While most websites have a home page, about us page, contact page, and products/services page, that may not be enough to achieve your specific needs. For example, if you are an independent book publishing company, you may need a place to showcase all of your previous books and publications. Or, if you are an online influencer, you may want a blog and a place to post your affiliate links and advertisements. What goals do you need your website to meet to assist you in reaching your desired business outcomes? If you can answer these questions about your business website, a good website designer will give you several options to achieve those ends.
Time & Expectations
. One of the many misconceptions business owners have when hiring a website designer is that it takes little to no time to complete. Sure, suppose the business owner has all of the fully optimized images and videos, website copy, keywords, and page layouts ready to go on day one. In that case, a web designer can build a high-quality website in a matter of days. But that is rarely, if ever, the case for most business owners. Honestly, one of the main reasons it takes a web designer a while to get a website launched is because business owners do not have a clear idea about what they want to go on the website. Websites are more than images, videos, and links to social media pages. You need website copy that tells your website’s visitors who you are, what to do, and where to go to complete a task or get information. Tag lines, keywords, images, alt tags, search engine results page schema, and so much more are only a portion of what goes into a high-quality website. Developing compelling copy and high converting calls to action do not happen overnight. You may have a general idea of how you want your website to look, but you will need more than an idea to get the results you want. Just like you, web designers aren’t mind readers. While many good designers can anticipate specific wants and even translate your ideas into actual content, this process takes time and getting to know your business goals. Having clear expectations and timelines from the beginning is critical to a healthy working relationship with your website designer. Expecting 25 SEO optimized pages with targeted keywords, optimized images, and high converting sales funnels in 2 weeks is not realistic.
Now that you hired a website designer and built a site you love, can you set up and forget about it? The answer to that question is no. Even if you don’t add any new content to the website, it will need monitoring for security and software updates. But, who maintains the site to ensure it stays updated? Most website designers, including myself, charge separately for monthly maintenance after the website is launched. The cost can range from $50 to $300, depending on the platform hosting your website. For example, with website builders like Wix or Squarespace, those platforms perform software updates as needed without you having to log in and click a button. But if you need to post new content like blogs or link YouTube video uploads, you will need to learn how to post them yourself or signup for a maintenance program that includes site updates. However, with WordPress websites, you will definitely need to log in periodically to update the software to ensure your site remains secure and functioning. If you go the WordPress route, either you or your website designer will need to keep the software plugins updated along with any content you want to keep updated. No matter what, whether it’s you, your website designer, or an employee of your company, someone will need to maintain your website. What’s the point of spending money to create a website that you don’t maintain. If you can’t commit to maintenance, you probably shouldn’t have a website at all.
It is never a good idea to depend on another business to make decisions for your business. As we’ve seen over the last few years, social media sites can de-platform anyone or any company whenever they want without regard for your business needs. Plus, every customer who sees your content will also see your competitors’ content. You have no way of creating an exclusive online experience for your customers when they are bombarded with content from other sources. Plus, most social media sites limit how much information you can share on their platforms about your company. Can you engage your customers and create “raving fans” of your company with a 150 character bio and a few captions under a photo? Although social media is a great tool to find and reach your target audience, don’t rely on social media to do what your website should do to convert your audience into paying customers.
Are you saying a website is more important than a social media following?
No, they are essential but in different ways. When someone signs up for an Instagram account, Instagram has access to their demographic information, who their friends and followers are, topics, and things that interest them. It can use that information to sell ads and boost content. Even though a person may follow you on Instagram, you don’t have access to that sort of information. However, if that follower goes to your website and signs up for your newsletter or subscribes to your blog, you now have the same kind of information Instagram has and can use it to create new sales channels or content that your target audience wants. I encourage you to look at social media as just another tool to gain the attention of your target audience, but not as your central hub for your business’s online presence.
Why do I need to think about any of this when the website designer should be skilled enough to create a website without it?
Someone once told me that you don’t get disappointed by what you expect to find; you get disappointed by what you inspect. Ever wonder why some website designers create websites that all look the same? This often happens because the designer plugs your business information into a cookie-cutter format and makes minor customizations. The less involvement you have in developing the website, the more likely you will not get the results you want. You not only get what you pay for, but you also get what you pay attention to.
Hiring a website designer for your business is a good investment, but you should do your research before meeting with anyone. My top five things to consider are your budget, factors that impact price, website functionality, timing and expectations, and website maintenance.
Your Action Steps
Your action steps are to:
1. download the website designer pre-meeting questionnaire. Before you meet with any website designer, please review the questionnaire and think through the topics I discussed.
2. Go on fiverr.com, Upwork, or do a google search for website designers in your area and get quotes. Then I want you to get to work on getting your website built.