Many of us work on a tight budget. The money that we save on a website or marketing, gives us more money to spend on office equipment or business services. What are we paying for and what are we risking when we budget for our own website?
Where are you coming from? Who are you talking to?
My own background is writing software training manuals for executives, sales staff and administrative staff. From my experience, I’ve realized that my clients need help getting the new work done while they are learning a system. That’s how I got involved in helping manage the development of websites and writing the words that go into the websites.
Now the internet and software are constantly changing, so you’ll have to factor in the lifespan of a website should be three (3) to five (5) years.
Next factor, is the culture or your customer and where you are located. For example, I am in Perth – Australia with a population of about 1.6 million people, but I came from “Greater” Los Angeles – California with a population of over 10 million. In fact, the state of California had about 33 million people.
If your in another part of the world, what works for you?
Discipline to Complete the Work
The first idea I have observed works well for people who need help keeping the focus and discipline to finish the work they started. These people often multitask, are detail oriented and have passionate ideas about their business. They have great communication skills, but lack the time to finish what they start, yet they’d prefer to do most of the work themselves.
In Perth, OM4 has “Website in a Day” seminars. You sit down in a room with 1 to 3 other business owners, a business coach, graphic artist and a coder. The artist and coder assemble the logo and template for your website. You write and put the story into your website with the help of the business coach. The end product is a WordPress site, professional layout and written your words – in a day. Sitting in that room with others not only spurs on ideas, but you are a captive and won’t miss that deadline! (om4.com.au)
DIY (Do It Yourself)
The second idea, is to do your website yourself. That’s what I have done and you might have noticed that my domain name redirects to a free WordPress.com site. I’m not going to hide this – I only needed a small space where I could deliver my “monologues” to the occasional reader or potential new client who might be looking for my unique topic.
This DIY system works well for micro-businesses who get most of their work by reputation and word of mouth. It can be a quick way to get basic contact information and a small summary of services or products onto the web. Where the DIY system is weak
- the templates you can choose from will dictate how you add your text and pictures
- you run the risk of mismatched simple topics with complex text
- your templates will look the same as many other websites
- with some templates you have to keep adding text to avoid looking static, old or outdated
- you can look small (there’s nothing to hide about being small!)
The price is great. You can start a WordPress site for free, pick from free templates and write your own content. The catch, you need a little technical skill when you sign up for a new domain name or transfer it yourself. My recommendation if you don’t have the tech skill is to find a web coder before you pay for your own domain name. Your time is worth having them do the work. (WordPress.com — not WordPress.org)
Feeling a Bit Tricky?
HostGator and a few other large webhosts are wonderfully cheap if you have super-user skills. You want to be a combination of an office admin with excellent IT skills. You’ll have to dive into the Fantasico Deluxe tool in the control panel to install your own web systems. You can do everything from HTML / PHP or use the control panel to install TypePad or WordPress or Drupal or set up subdomains. It is a good idea to contact a web coder in advance, in case you need some help along the way. (hostgator.com)
Interactive Service with a Smile
Foote Francis (Australia) or SalesForce (International) can customize and install databases – like newsletter management systems, logins for franchisees / clients or online stores. FooteFrancis has a nice set of database tools that they can add to your website in phases, as your business is ready for services, like loyalty clubs or gift certificates. SalesForce has call centers and help desks that you can add on top of the online database – which allows you to scale up your business quickly. (FooteFrancis.com.au and SalesForce.com)
Get a free estimate or quote from coders before making your decision. The coders and their project managers know which questions to ask and can even suggest some efficient solutions that fit your business.
Small businesses can easily take advantage of international outsourcing. oDesk is a hub for overseas web coders, graphic artists and web designers. You need some familiarity with web design terminology and strong project management skills. You can “spec out” your own site and request quotes. Be sure to include start dates and ask for tight deadlines. Deadlines will always slip, but you don’t want to have a loose schedule slip even farther out. Ask for your website to be built in phases, because this allows you to get important pages up, like Home page, Services (or Products) and Contact Us. Add the other detail pages as the words and pictures are ready. (odesk.com)
Next Step – Your Website
If you are a beginner – err on the safe side. You get what you pay for and if you try to do the work yourself, you are paying with your time and your money. Consider getting a little more service up-front so you don’t have to correct mistakes or restart projects. Keep in mind that business websites are usually redesigned every three (3) to five (5) years, so you’ll be able to build on your first experience and take advantage of advances in technology.
If you have experience with someone else building your website and you are ready for a new one – consider adding databases and interactive tools to your online presence this time. Look for ways that you can automate redundant or numeric tasks. Redundant tasks might be sending out membership renewal emails. Numeric tasks might be collecting membership dues and applying the payment to a balance.
Have you seen a novel or intelligent online website or web system that you’d like to share? What have been your good experiences and advice you can share with others?