Starting a business is time-consuming and costly. Making the most of your budget by correctly allocating resources will help ensure you make the best possible start. For most companies having a website will form a large part of a marketing strategy to engage customers, build loyalty and make money. So how do you make a website that works for your business? Here are some tips that should help define some key concepts when taking on a new web design project:
1. User experience and engagement are key to the success of your business.
Every department in your business will need to have an effective user experience if you are going to make it a roaring success. This is especially true of your website, which will probably be the first point of contact a customer has with your company. Before you start thinking about your website, think about how your customers would like to be treated. What are they looking for? Will they be at work, at home, or on a train when looking at your products and services? Are they young, middle-aged, old?
Whatever you do, make sure you don't make a website that you think your customers would like. Do a proper user experience design process with usability testing and make a website you know your customers will like. This will save and make a lot more money over time than creating something that is a simple reflection of your business plan.
2. Choose a supplier that fits your needs now and in the future.
Hiring a website design agency may seem like a no-brainer: you get experienced website designers and developers, online marking, technical support, project management etc. This sounds ideal! In many cases this can be the wrong option for your business as you will be paying high costs for something that could be produced in less time and for less money by going direct to a freelancer. Most website design agencies will outsource some or all of a project to freelancers so if you are looking for high-quality output for average costs then bypass the middle-men and get a more intimate relationship with the person who will be designing, building, project managing and providing technical support for your website.
The downside to using both freelancers and website design agencies is that some of them are just not very good at what they do. It is in your interests to thoroughly research the people who will be contributing to your business. Don't be bowled over by name dropping, FTSE 100 logos and screenshots provided to you by suppliers - look for testimonials, ask for references, visit the sites and services produced by your suppliers.
If both website design agencies and freelancers are too expensive then you could use a free website package as these can work out well for small-scale operations, but bear in mind that a free or cheap website will more often than not fail to deliver true value for your business. Investing in a website is not just a financial outlay but can also prove a time-consuming process when you are choosing and buying domain names, setting up web hosting, choosing colours and fonts, uploading content, adding page call outs, creating forms, etc. If you decide to do a DIY website design yourself then refer to point 1 and make sure you get the user experience right from the outset otherwise you will end up wasting a huge amount of time creating something that just doesn't work.
3. Build something that will last.
To maximize spend your website should evolve with your business as it changes and grows. You need to make sure that it is capable of being upgraded, that content is portable and that it is not tied to software that has a large chance of being obsolete in 3-5 years. There are so many technologies and programming languages powering websites that it can seem bewildering when trying to commission a website. In order to make sure you are arriving at the best possible technical solution, try to get a few quotes from suppliers even if you know who you would like to use, and importantly, ask them to explain why they have chosen a particular programming language or piece of software to use for your project. This way you will get a clear picture of how your website will be built which will provide you with safe knowledge that your presence on the web will be lasting and responsive to technological changes in the years ahead.