Choosing a Website Designer

Website Choices

So you have decided your business needs a website, or your existing website needs a revamp, and you’ve started to look into who can do the work for you.

Your thought process may go something like this,

  • Option 1   Do It Yourself (DIY) and create a website yourself (no cost!)
  • Option 2   Ask a friend who is ‘into computers’ to create a website (almost no cost!)
  • Option 3   Pay a website developer to develop a website (ah, a cost!).

Now, clearly we are biased on this subject, we want your business, but let me explain.

If you have a viable and popular business that you want to expand – and the demographic for your product or service uses the internet, then please consider carefully when making your choice.  Now of course your choice will be based on the revenue your business generates – if it’s a part-time or ‘hobby’ business with the turnover of a few thousand pounds a year, having a professionally designed website is not going to be viable – otherwise read on.

Option 1: Do It Yourself (DIY) Websites

So you are thinking about ‘Doing It Yourself and creating a website’.  Now I’m rather good at D-I-Y around the house.  It took 15 years of practice (or as my partner calls it ‘trial and error’) before I got to the point where I could have a go at something, and get a good result by the end of it.  There were many bodges, kludges and disasters along the way, including the involuntary emptying of a hot water tank through the ceiling.  I know my limitations, and for certain jobs I will get a professional in as they a can do a job for less money than if I did it myself.

Hold on I hear you say, how can employing a professional be cheaper than Doing It Yourself?  Well, here’s an example, we needed new radiator valves throughout, I knew I could do it, but it’d probably have taken me two or three days of work + the mopping up and leaks afterwards.  Our friendly plumber did the job in 5 hours, no leaks, and sourced the new components at trade-price.  For me to do have done this job, it would have been at least three days away from earning money, plus the cost of buying the components at full retail price (plus the likely replacement cost of most of the carpets!).  It was much cheaper to get a professional in to do the work!

It is the same when it comes to websites – just how much lost revenue would it cost your business if you took time out from running the business to create a website?  A week, a month, six months?  And who will be running your business whilst you are doing this?

Now there are many different ways to “Do It Yourself” (DIY) a website.  Various DIY website companies make bold claims about their services, such as a compete website can be set up by a complete novice in a few of hours.  The companies that provide these services come in various shapes and forms – some allow you to drag and drop boxes and logos to build your site, others ask you to fill in the blanks on a predefined template.

Generally most of these DIY websites and their services fall down in several common areas

  • Difficulty of tailoring the website to your corporate branding for colour and design
  • Overloaded servers with tens of thousands of websites all running from the same box resulting in a very s-l-o-w to load website
  • Technical Support taking days, weeks and even months to respond to a query
  • Using a DIY Website Company locks you into that one company for the lifetime of the website – you cannot transfer your site to an alternative company
  • Some DIY Companies rely on something called ”Flash Technology’ rather than a traditional Website design to build the site – meaning that on many computers the website won’t display correctly, if at all
  • If the DIY website company ceases trading or they accidentally delete your your website – your content will gone and be lost forever … even if they sent you a ‘copy’ it could not be used elsewhere.  It’s happened many times in the past and will happen again in the future.

Now the DIY Websites aren’t all bad – there are some great web developers that specialise in using these DIY websites – and they get some fantastic results … but you’re then back to option ‘3’ which is to pay a website developer to create the site for you, but with the limitation of the DIY company, which is a just lose-lose situation for you!

Option 2. Ask a friend …

This is probably one of the most tempting options – your friend claims to be an expert website developer (yet he/she does not have a portfolio…everyone has to start somewhere, right?) and will create a website for in return for a modest outlay of beer money.

What could ever go wrong?  Well, probably everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Then what happens when your friend decides that keeping your website up to date is no longer fun, and the beer money that was offered for the original set-up is no longer such an attractive option?  They then charge you a commercial rate for what is essentially a poor quality website – you are effectively held to ransom.   They have registered the domain name, they own all the code, and no formal contract was entered into.  The only thing to do is to pay up, or start again.

Finally – your friend probably doesn’t apply security to the website, and it is very unlikely that they have made a backup of the site, so should the website server fail, or the hosting company goes into liquidation – then the website will either be infected with malware (at which point Google black-lists your website) or the website totally lost.  Not a good outcome.

Option 3. Hire Commercial Website Designer

If you have a viable and popular business – then please engage with a professional website development company.  Get a quote, actually get several quotes, and remember to compare like with like.  No two quotes will be identical, and each website company will have a different approach to your needs and offer different solutions.

Some quotes may be inexpensive, some quotes will be out of this world – the best way to look at it is to work out the total cost of ownership over the life of the website.  An inexpensive quote may have costly ongoing monthly fees, an expensive quote may provide a site with lesser ongoing fees.  If you remember one thing – ask about the ‘hidden costs’, what are the unspoken extras that you are likely to pay for over the lifetime of the website?

Conclusion

Selecting your new website developer is a commitment that will last the lifetime of your website – therefore choose carefully and weigh-up the commitment that you chosen developer will give to your project.

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